The 11th Hour

Issue section: 

Directors: Nadia Conners and Leila Conners Petersen; Release date: 15 February

My first thoughts on being asked to go and see Leonardo DiCaprio's climate change documentary were not terribly cheery. Much as I am delighted that the fight to get people to take climate change seriously has been largely won, the resulting jumping on the bandwagon has produced a motley crew of celebrity endorsements that do little more than present a famous face stating the obvious.

But this film is a welcome addition to the conversation surrounding the issue.

It's a simple layout. DiCaprio narrates the film as we are presented with numerous experts and concerned citizens - from mathematician and author Stephen Hawking and scientist David Suzuki to Russia's Mikhail Gorbachev - who inform us about the current state of the planet.

The film spends the bulk of its 95 minutes focusing on the issues facing humanity today. Interviewees paint a bleak picture of the environment, our dependence on fossil fuels, our wasteful ways and the impact industrial countries are having on global warming.

There is much in this film that makes it worth taking a bunch of people with you to see it. Several of the talking heads come back to the idea that the current capitalist system - or the focus on growth - is incompatible with the action needed to deal with climate change. Indeed, the majority of those interviewed clearly see effective action on climate change as being intrinsically linked to a fairer, more equal, society.

The blame for the situation we find ourselves in today belongs to the government and the big business from which governments take their lead. Being a US production, this film focuses on the White House and Exxon Mobile - but it doesn't take a genius to make the connections closer to home.

Throw in a few clips from our climate change marches in London juxtaposed to images from the civil rights movement and it really feels like this is a film pointing the way forward.

And then... Well, the solutions on display here vary. Architects and designers, such as Bruce Mau and John Todd, suggest that remedies may lie in creating eco-friendly structures. And there is much discussion of how new technology and design can solve our fossil fuel dependency, but none at all on how we are meant to move towards a society that doesn't just provide a decent standard of living to those who can afford it.

So all in all this is a great starting point, a celebrity endorsement that may just move the movement forward.