This is what I love about the Cannes Film Festival (well, one of the many things). You watch a thought-provoking documentary…and then the director and star of the doc wander into the cinema afterwards for an intimate chat about what you’ve just seen.
In this case it was ‘Trashed’, directed by Candida Brady and featuring Oscar-winner Jeremy Irons who accompanied her around the globe to report on the urgent environmental problem we all have on our hands, and need to address immediately – waste and sustainability.
The docu-feature exposes a mountain (literally) of waste spilling onto the shores of Lebanon, plastic in the prawns we eat, deformed children in Vietnam, the destructive and tragic impact of a small incinerator in Iceland, and the toxic soup that was once our beautiful oceans.
Within just a few generations, human reproduction may cease to be possible if we continue to ingest the amount of toxins, such as BPA, that we are currently – and often ignorantly – putting in to our bodies.
Jeremy is passionate about this cause, hoping the film will raise the same level of interest and action as Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth”.
“We have a huge battle on our hands – we’re fighting huge industry – the plastic industry,” he notes.
“It makes me really angry – why our governments don’t take care of us. Why aren’t they monitoring this? It’s outrageous! They worry about things that are meaningless, and don’t worry about the things that matter to us and our children.”
Decisions need to be made, he implores. By us. And we have the power to only vote in governments who are going to care.
He calls for the recycling instructions to be simplified (who understands all those different symbols?!) and to become uniform across the globe.
Jeremy not only presents the doc, but is also executive-producer. His involvement included “a bit of financing and convincing Vangelis to do the music”. (Candida interjects that he’s actually too humble to admit he did a whole lot more than just that.)
During the doc Jeremy talks as a non-smoker about the harm of cigarette butts on the environment…but today admits that he is smoking again…but watching where he throws those butts. “My non-smoking is a disaster,” he laughs. “After this doc, some of the pleasure has been taken out of smoking. But I’m a sinner – we’re all sinners.”
The film neatly has a solutions section at the end, including the all-important ‘avoidance’ – could we all please stop drinking bottled water! And buying takeaway coffee…
The fab thing about Irons is he says the things you think. Like has anyone noticed how bad the sound is on mobile phones compared to good old-fashioned fixed line telephones?
Similarly, with digital TV. Recently the UK changed from analogue to digital, so Irons’ wife bought a big new flat screen. “But the picture was not good,” he says. “I didn’t like how it made the people look. And it didn’t sound as good. So we got rid of it, and bought a cheap box that we put on top of our 20-year-old analogue TV to make it work. Digital TV is a scam – to make us continue to buy stuff. It’s regression!”
According to Jeremy, “the worst thing is to accept how things are. You’ve got to say: this is wrong. Let’s change it.”
He hopes we’ll start discussing environmental problems and solutions at our dinner parties, if only for a moment, “rather than whether Brad Pitt needs a haircut”.
Which reminds me – must sleep. Brad Pitt’s here tomorrow!
P.S. Ken Loach’s “The Angels’ Share” tonight was fantastic – a perfect movie – funny, engaging, warm and wonderful from the first frame…to the last.