Winter is here, darkness descends … phones are taken, doors are shut, curtains are drawn on this quaint private theatre screen somewhere in Wierda Valley, Johannesburg.
The preview small talk is unceremoniously drowned out by the hefty Dolby surround sound system.
We know it is time when the bass is interrupted by an ominous and jarring silence. We sit still. Waiting.
Staring at the blank screen I can hear the others breathe … five different rhythms, strangers taking up air, releasing carbon dioxide into this small room. I begin to feel more and more suffocated.
Does the former American deputy president’s follow-up piece on climate change really open with blank space?
How poetic, how meta, how annoyingly terrific. As a young filmmaker myself, I may be having an existential crisis. Staving off the jealousy.
Confronted by this nothingness, one brave soul stands up — the white guy — and offers to go and find out what’s going on. Part of me wants to say “don’t do it, man”, because this is how all postapocalyptic zombie movies begin. But being the only other man, he may suggest I go, and because I’m black, we all know what happens next, so I say nothing.
Woman at the end of the row says: “I’m sure it’s just a slight technical fault; should start any second now.” But by then the nice man has left the screening room. I hear him in the halls, a distant echoing “hello …” he calls out again and again. “Hello, we have no picture … ” his voice fading. There is no response, we are doomed, I think to myself; we will die in here, the world as we knew it is probably no more. “At least we have each other” is what I almost pipe up, but instead. I say nothing. Less energy needlessly expended.
As I begin to wonder what my carbon footprint is, Al Gore’s film finally starts and the kind dude is back in his seat. Brilliant. The delay was probably only two minutes long and here we go.
The picture pretty much opens as one would expect, all melting ice and typhoons, eventually circling back to the message, a message of hope, a message that says look at the Paris Accord, a change is coming, more than 100 countries have joined hands, we will fulfill our moral duty to this planet, to our grandchildren. Gore is great, surely nothing and no one can go against this tide now. Surely we all know this already though, as we continue to run out of names for hurricanes. So, this message then, this movie, I can’t help but wonder: Who is it for?
Then it dawns on me, Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3: Jon Snow meets Daenerys Targaryen for the first time. She is the blonde with a swath of fanatical followers, including three dragons. She listens to Jon Snow — who, in her view, is beneath her — as he warns her about the long winter and the coming of the white walker ice zombies beyond the wall, who will wipe out all humanity if people do not unite to do something about it. She meets this news with a vacant stare and interrupts Jon Snow to talk to him about what she feels is the more pressing matter of her regaining her throne from their mutual enemy.
The look of disbelief on Jon Snow’s face at this person’s inability to grasp said grave threat to all humankind, or worse still, to selfishly attempt to disregard it, a threat that Jon Snow has seen with his own eyes, a threat she did not even know existed until they met. The look on Jon Snow’s face as she brazenly dismisses him is priceless. He may as well have been talking about white monopoly capital.
Gore has the same look on his face as he watches the new leader of the free world, President Donald J Trump, pull the United States out of the Paris Accord.
Now, although this flick is an important piece in the ongoing battle against capitalism, sorry climate change, it is rather pedestrian cinema. The aforementioned look on Gore’s face, though, is possibly well worth the ticket price.
An Inconvenient Sequel opens in cinemas on October 6