What a better way to start the Sydney Film Festival than with a packed morning screening of Davis Guggenheim's An Inconvenient Truth in the magnificent State Theatre? Armed with a media pass, a skinny cappucino, and my already heavily-thumbed program guide, I found a seat near the front and studiously took in Al Gore's lecture on global warming.
Made up mostly of Gore's slick multimedia lecture, a talk given by the ex-future-president-of-the-United-States in over 1,000 cities worldwide, this documentary is really a 90-minute public service announcement on the perils of climate change. Or at least it could have been under a government committed to the issue.
A brilliant exercise in scientific vulgarisation, the lecture manages to convey shocking truths, alarming warnings, and sensible solutions in a manner both didactic and entertaining. Gore has been a crusader on the subject of climate change since the early seventies. Adding to his natural authority is a level of access only afforded to politicians of his stature (who else can matter-of-factly say "I went under the ice cap in a nuclear submarine and surfaced at the North Pole. This is what we saw..."). He comes across not only as an informed and dedicated advocate for change, but as a charismatic politician who, when he won the popular vote but was cheated out of the U.S. presidency, missed an opportunity to attempt change on a truly global scale.
The lecture is interrupted several times by footage of Gore doing his research, flying around the world to attend conferences, and visiting the farm where he grew up. These interludes also delve into Gore's private life, examining how life-changing events — such as his son's accident and his sister's death from lung cancer — informed his political conscience. Though overly sentimental, these episodes provide a clever connection between the political and the personal, using the best Hollywood techniques to tug at the heartstrings and bring home the message of individual responsibility.