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An Inconvenient Sequel: cinema with a cause

India’s concerns feature in second Al Gore documentary

May 22, 2017 11:55 pm | Updated 11:55 pm IST - Cannes

Hard truth:  (From left) Directors Jon Shenk and Bonnie Cohen, former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore and film participant Diane Weyermann at a screening of  An Inconvenient Sequel .

Hard truth: (From left) Directors Jon Shenk and Bonnie Cohen, former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore and film participant Diane Weyermann at a screening of An Inconvenient Sequel .

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power was one of the films featured on Monday at Cannes. The film showed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the big screen in the company of then Minister of State for Environment Prakash Javdekar, Minister of State for Power Piyush Goel and environmental activist Sunita Narain.

The four of them feature in Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk’s documentary, which is a follow-up to An Inconvenient Truth that looked at former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore’s efforts to address the issue of climate change and global warming.

A significant part of the sequel focuses on India’s concerns on renewable energy raised at the U.N. Climate Conference of 2015, Mr. Gore’s efforts to address the problems and the eventual signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Through India, the film also addresses the developing-versus-developed-world debate over carbon emission and energy issues.

India’s reasons for opting for low cost fossil fuel, its concerns about alternative energy and the huge costs involved in it are shown being taken with seriousness and concern.

There is the former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressing concern over India stepping up on coal-fired plants because of the lower price of coal. There is Piyush Goel (in a footage from a meeting with Mr. Gore in Delhi) asking for the right to the same carbon space that the developed world has been occupying for 150 years.

And there is Mr. Modi at the UN Climate Conference talking about 300 millions Indians who are without access to energy.

The film touches upon the heavy rains in Chennai in 2015, considered a consequence of global warming and climate change, something Mr. Modi had to address directly after his Paris trip.

Haneke’s Happy End

The screening of Michael Haneke’s Happy End didn’t quite meet with unequivocal approval — a couple of boos interfering with the applause. Having won two Palme d’Or, a Grand Prix and a Prix de la mise en scene for his earlier work, Haneke is in the fray yet again.

The spartan Happy End is scathing as well as sad in unravelling all that is unseemly behind the polite and dignified façade of an upper class Calais family. It’s a crumbling structure with relationships barely held together.

Haneke also looks at people’s relationship with their mobiles and computer screens, on how human bonding seems to be mediated by social media and technology.

From its ingenious start to the nifty end, Haneke brings the viewers a full circle to this significant truth.

Nothing is sacred

Like Happy End , Yorgos Lanthimos’ much anticipated The Killing of a Sacred Deer also met with its share of jeers from the perplexed members of the audience.

The ominous music, automated interactions, staccato conversations, clinical relationships and the presence of a strange outsider give enough of a hint at the sinister and the morbid that would unfold later in surgeon Steven Murphy’s family. There is an underlying theme of crime, sin and punishment presented in the psychological horror sphere. The Killing of a Sacred Deer scares, baffles, unsettles, annoys and peels off the happy smokescreen to reveal the discomfiting reality of yet another upper class family.

Ruben Ostland’s The Square is also all about taking potshots at and lifting the veil off the pretentious and entitled world of arts. But it’s a gentle critique, peopled with eccentric but likeable characters, those who have the warmth and the humanity to redeem themselves.

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