Because The 11th Hour — Nadia Conners and Leila Conners Peterson's fast-paced, oddly breezy new global-warming documentary — seldom offers any much-needed time to catch one's breath and think about the numerous worthy issues it brings up, I've put together some discussion questions for use during and after the screening. Make no mistake. The 11th Hour is a noble film with a noble purpose. In trying to cover every aspect of the global-warming crisis, it works so hard that it practically sweats sincerity and good intentions. But its educational strategies could use a little guidance.
1. If one of the principal problems our society has with global warming is its vast and complex sources and origins, why try for a sweeping overview of the topic rather than a focused, well-documented exploration of one or two key facets of the problem?
2. Why is it so hard for scientists to ponder (much less mention) the concept of God even though most of their pleas for climate control and citizen action are based on their carefully unspoken belief in the preservation and maintenance of a mysterious, nondenominational "spiritual force" that we need to preserve?
3. Why do the eyes of so many climatologists, researchers, and philosophers in The 11th Hour shine with something not unlike glee when they prophesy the imminent destruction of humanity?
4. In a film whose second half overflows with promising solutions to many of the climate and energy difficulties posed in the first half, why don't the filmmakers spend more time examining the eco-friendly designs that apparently exist already?
5. If consumerism and advertising culture are two of the main obstacles preventing humans from living a less materialistic, more eco-friendly existence, why do so many of the montages from The 11th Hour feel like infomercials or music videos?
6. Why are polar bears and penguins such indie-film fetish objects?
Discuss the significance of David Suzuki's observation — "extinction is a natural part of life" — as it relates to the future of documentary films that, while intermittently thoughtful and powerful, lack the patience and intelligence to develop their central arguments.
The 11th Hour
Opening Friday, September 14th
Studio on the Square