Tribeca Review: “Climate of Change”

With such potentially dire consequences facing the environment due to pollutants and other man-made threats, “Climate of Change” examines various aspects of these perils and how eclectic groups of people are taking steps to halt the damage. British documentarian Brian Hill’s film spans the globe to find proactive individuals and grassroots organizations fighting to save their environment.

Among the many compelling stories Hill examines is a group of pre-teens in India that formed a student organization intent on repelling environmental ills. It's impressive to watch unfold as the thousands of students taking to the streets to protest the use of plastic bags. The interviews Hill conducts with these children are some of the most heartfelt of the film. These kids are painfully aware of the marred condition of the Earth they stand to inherit, and Hill adroitly assembles this footage by hitting just the right emotional notes without manipulative sentimentality. 

One particularly grim story Hill surveys is the outright destruction of the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. Over the years, mining companies have literally blasted the tops off of nearly 500 of these mountains providing a cheap and easy way to extract coal. This practice causes numerous detrimental effects to the surrounding environment and eventually the local economies as well. Many West Virginian local citizens have organized and taken their fight to Washington, D.C., where they lobby politicians and create awareness to safeguard what is left of the Appalachians.

Along with compelling stories, “Climate of Change” contains some very impressive footage. Hill does a fine job in not only capturing beautiful and exotic landscapes, and the people who inhabit them, but also stunning depictions of environmental havoc wreaked by man. Actress Tilda Swinton's narration is the only aspect that often comes off sounding lofty and overly dramatic, a contrast to the rest of film. Where “Climate of Change” works best is when it simply tells the stories of average people, devoid of pessimism, organizing to save their world, in their neighborhood.

"Climate of Change" is showing at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 22, 23, 28 & May 1

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