Hollywood heavyweights taking a strong position on the environment is nothing new. But this season, a vocal few are actually putting their passionate political views into movies. The rejiggered Hollywood Film Festival is packed with social action movies backed by celebrities from Sharon Stone to Emma Thompson.
“Zero Dark Thirty” director Kathryn Bigelow‘s three-minute elephant poaching PSA “Last Days” recently debuted at the New York Film Festival, where Bigelow was on hand to explain the origins of the project, which identifies the sale of ivory as a funding source for terrorist organizations like Boko Haram, the Lord’s Resistance Army and al-Shabab. (NYFF report here.)
“I felt compelled to enter this space, encourage a dialogue, raise awareness. Killing for ivory by organized syndicates [is] now being carried out on an industrialized scale,” Bigelow told the NYFF audience and a panel of environmentalists including reps from WildAid, legal experts and Somali human rights activist K’naan Warsame.
Illuminating the horrors of elephant poaching on a global scale, “Last Days” is backed by Annapurna’s Megan Ellison, who worked with Bigelow on “Zero Dark Thirty” and will team with her again on Bigelow’s upcoming Bowe Bergdahl project. An online rollout is expected for “Last Days.”
Meanwhile, longtime environmental advocate Leonardo DiCaprio has taken pause from acting and protest marches to narrate the science web series “Green World Rising,” which looks at real world solutions to the climate crisis.
The first short, “Carbon,” dives into carbon pricing as a tool to reduce global carbon emissions. The second 10-minute short, “Last Hours,” underscores the looming threat of methane gas from the melting arctic. Both videos can be streamed here, with more episodes on climate change to follow. (Watch “Carbon” below.)
DiCaprio, now a United Nations Messenger of Peace, addressed leaders at the United Nations Climate Summit last week: “As an actor, I pretend for a living. I play fictitious characters often solving fictitious problems. I believe mankind has looked at climate change in that same way.” (Watch his UN speech below, and our 2014 video interview with DiCaprio here.)
Director James Cameron, who has admitted that he wrote his own eco-philosophy into global blockbuster “Avatar.” is also speaking up. He recently sat down with NBC for a Q&A following the UN Climate Summit to talk his Showtime series “Years of Living Dangerously” — which unpacked the climate crisis across nine episodes this past Summer — and the continued environmental focus of the upcoming “Avatar” sequel, whenever that shakes out.