CANNES, France Hollywood star and long-time environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio has a message for the world: go green now, before it's too late.
As DiCaprio tells it in film documentary "The 11th Hour," launched on Saturday at the Cannes Film Festival, people are living in the last minutes of the final hour before it may be too late to do anything about global warming.
"Global warming is a reality. It is happening," DiCaprio told reporters gathered for the movie's debut.
Last year "An Inconvenient Truth" explored the same environmental issue by telling of former Vice President Al Gore's long and lonely campaign to educate people and politicians about the environmental issue.
"An Inconvenient Truth" became a global box office hit with about $50 million in worldwide ticket sales -- a huge sum for a non-fiction film -- and it also won an Oscar.
DiCaprio credits the movie for raising popular culture's concern about the issue, and said films often have a greater impact than scientific speeches or research papers because regular people actually watch, listen and learn in cinemas.
"In the last year, people are taking this issue more seriously than they ever have, and it's a direct result of affecting people's emotions in a cinematic format," he said.
David Orr, the chair of environmental studies at U.S. university Oberlin College put it differently: "Sooner or later, it is film, music or poetry that move people. It's a necessary step in forming political discussion."
DARK BUT HOPEFUL
Unlike "An Inconvenient Truth" which focused in large part on Gore, "11th Hour," takes a scholarly look at the causes of the problem -- which some political leaders and scientists deny exists -- and what people can do to stop it.
The roughly 90-minute movie, which was produced and narrated by DiCaprio and directed by sisters Leila Conners Petersen and Nadia Conners, is both scary and hopeful.
Acting much like a guide for audiences, DiCaprio poses questions everyday people might ask. Then, well known scientists including Stephen Hawking provide answers.
"I wanted to give (the scientific believers) a way of not being challenged about whether the science is correct or whether their were opinions were valid," DiCaprio said.
"It was about them being able to express ideas and being able to give us, the public, solutions for the future."
The scientists warn that the ultimate end point of extreme climate change is human extinction, but they also give examples of what can be done to stop it, from simply changing light bulbs to electing "green" leaders or buying "green" products.
DiCaprio and the directors said they tried to stay away from partisan politics because the global warming affects all people, regardless of being liberal or conservative.
But "The 11th Hour" does aim squarely at the United States and its industries.
"We are the largest superpower in the world. We're are also the largest polluters," DiCaprio said.
"It's ultimately us as the largest democracy in the world to be the ones to set an example ... if we don't do it, how is the rest of the world supposed to follow?"
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