In conversation with Cool It director Ondi Timoner and Bjorn Lomborg

Posted: September 20, 2010 in Q&As, Toronto International Film Festival
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Cool It's Bjorn LomborgIndependent documentary director Ondi Timoner was approached by producers to direct a film about “The Skeptical Environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg. Not an issue-driven filmmaker, Timoner wasn’t sure why they’d selected her. So she did her research, read the book and met with Lomborg at the Cosmic Diner in New York. After a five-hour conversation, Timoner accepted the project with the intention of producing a follow-up to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and calling Lomborg out on everything to avoid making a fluff piece.

Lomborg is an academic, so he’s primarily delivered his message via lectures and books. However, he wanted to reach a larger audience so it was decided the best approach would be to transfer his latest book, Cool It, into a film of the same name. “The whole discussion has to be on a much larger scale,” says Lomborg. He did not want to create a rebuttal to Gore’s film, but instead present ways to actually fix some of the problems.

The film begins by outlining Lomborg’s beginnings and the arguments of his opponents. “I wanted to arm the audience up front with the information about Bjorn and the controversy he’s been through for speaking his beliefs,” says Timoner. Lomborg has been “misused” by a number of people who take his statements out of context and use them to justify not funding environmental initiatives, but Lomborg takes it in stride. “That’s the consequence of democracy … That’s just a part of being in the discussion.”

Both Lomborg and Timoner expressed gratitude for An Inconvenient Truth’s success in bringing climate change to the forefront of everyone’s mind. But what did they hope to achieve with Cool It? Timoner had one stipulation when she agreed to make the film: Lomborg had to conclude the film with a budget that illustrated how to best allocate funds. She hopes “to arm people” with this budget and secure more financing for the research and development discussed in the film. “The simple point is to say, ‘Al Gore brought us to the problem and hopefully this film will bring us to the solution,’” says Lomborg. He hopes in addition to choosing the right solutions, we also begin solving the problems we can fix and stop scaring our kids to the point they believe the world could end tomorrow.

These are issues that affect everyone, so Lomborg and Timoner have created a film that is accessible by everyone. You don’t have to be a “climate specialist” to recognize they’ve presented a logical argument and a “radically practical solution.”

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