Green carpet out for "The Age of Stupid"

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The stars will arrive by solar car, bike, or rickshaw. The carpet on which they pose for paparazzi will be green, not red. And this world premiere will be screened in a far-from-exclusive solar-powered cinema tent.

British filmmakers are planning the world’s first entirely eco-friendly film premiere on Sunday as they roll out the green carpet for “The Age of Stupid” -- a film about a future world devastated by climate change.

The film stars British actor Pete Postlethwaite -- famous for roles in “The Usual Suspects” and “In The Name of the Father” -- as an old man living alone in a wrecked world in 2055, looking back at “archive footage” from 2008 and asking why mankind didn’t save itself while it had the chance.

The film’s director, Franny Armstrong says the film is as much about campaigning as entertaining -- and for her there is no question about the world’s most pressing issue.

“We’ve just got a couple of years, maximum, to act if we are going to prevent catastrophic climate change and stop the deaths of hundreds of millions of people,” she told Reuters in an interview. “So, as a film-maker there is absolutely no choice now as to what subject you should be working on.”

Taking its lead from Al Gore’s Oscar-winning climate change film “An Inconvenient Truth,” a trail blazer for a new genre of “envirodocs,” The Age of Stupid casts Postlethwaite as the founder of a “Global Archive” in the now melted Arctic, preserving humanity’s achievements in the hope the planet might one day be habitable again.

He pulls together archive clips from six real-life tales -- including an 8-year-old Iraqi refugee forced to live on the streets of Jordan after her family and home were destroyed during the U.S.-led invasion, and an 82-year-old French mountain guide who has seen his beloved Alpine glaciers melt away.

Finance for the film was raised by a unique scheme dubbed “crowd-funding” -- which saw the entire 450,000 pounds ($623,000) budget raised by selling “shares” to groups or individuals prepared to invest but not interfere.

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Among the 228 backers, who invested anything from 500 to 35,000 pounds each in return for a percentage of the profits, are a hockey team and a health center.

Armstrong, a 37-year-old Briton, became convinced of the need for a new type of film-making when her previous film “McLibel” -- based on the 1990 libel case by two environmental activists against McDonald’s -- ran up against fear of legal action which stopped many outlets from showing it.

“In the end, McLibel reached 25 million people,” she said. “And the only reason it did that was because I owned the rights and I was prepared to give it away to small cable channels where millions of people would watch it.”

This time around, the “crowd-funding” model gave her the freedom she says is vital to the film’s future success.

“The main thing was that we wanted to own the rights, so that we can control the distribution and get it out to the greatest number of people,” she said.

“And we wanted complete editorial control -- we didn’t want advertising people telling us we had to water down our message.”

As a result, film premiere on Sunday is being billed as INclusive, rather than EXclusive.

It will be streamed live on the Internet and shown to around 16,000 people in more than 60 cinemas across Britain at the same time as the “green carpet” celebrities see it in London.

And, in keeping with the film’s message, a full eco-audit of both the film and the premiere will be available for scrutiny.

“We calculated the film’s carbon footprint by recording every journey - by foot, bicycle, motor boat, rowing boat, plane, train, car, rickshaw and helicopter - as well as all the electricity, gas, food and equipment used,” says Armstrong.

She said it added up to 94 tonnes of CO2 -- equal to that used by four Americans or eight Britons in a year, or 185 patio heaters in a month.

“I definitely think our film is worth 185 patio heaters,” said Armstrong.

Editing by Paul Casciato