Australia’s devastating bushfires have been featured in a short film starring Hollywood actor Joaquin Phoenix to send a disturbing message about climate change.
The two-minute film entitled Guardians Of Life also stars Sin City actor Rosario Dawson and actor Matthew Modine, who shot to fame in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket and recently appeared in Netflix hit Stranger Things. Other stars include Q’orianka Kilcher of Princess Kaiulani, Oona Chaplin of Game of Thrones and Adria Arjona of Good Omens. Albert Hammond Jr of US band The Strokes also makes an appearance.
Produced by Extinction Rebellion and Amazon Watch, the film is the first of 12 planned in a series to explore the world’s climate and ecological emergency.
Phoenix, who is in line to pick up an Oscar for his performance in the Joker on Sunday (local time), lends his star power to the film, playing the role of a doctor in an emergency room trying to save an unseen patient.
The film takes a twist as the patient struggles with heart failure, with the scene being used as a metaphor for what’s happening in the world. Images of Australia and the Amazon rainforest burning are revealed at the end.
“It’s really a call to action,” Phoenix said of his involvement in the film.
“I did it to raise awareness about the meat and dairy industry’s effect on climate change.
“The fact is we are clear cutting and burning rainforests and seeing the negative effects of those actions worldwide.
“People don’t realise there’s still time, but only if we act now and make sweeping changes to our consumption.
“We can’t wait for governments to solve these problems for us. We can’t wait until the election to try to make these changes. We have a personal responsibility to make changes in our own lives and act now.”
Australia’s bushfire season has claimed at least 33 lives since September, destroyed more than 3000 homes and razed more than 10.6 million hectares.
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Phoenix has been a vocal supporter of climate change action and was arrested at a protest alongside Hollywood star Jane Fonda in Washington DC earlier this year. He also used his speech at the Golden Globes to draw attention to climate issues.
Director Shaun Monson said he felt compelled to make the short film as previous documentary-style public service announcements had failed to move audiences to take action.
Extinction Rebellion co-founder Gail Bradbrook said she hoped this was one of the first signs of Hollywood beginning to use its influence to tell the truth about the gravity of the climate and ecological crisis.
“There is still a disconnect between how bad things are and the action that needs to happen. But that gap is narrowing,” she said.
“There are more significant people starting to break ranks, to tell the truth and act as if it is real.”
The film’s female lead, Q’orianka Kilcher said: “As an indigenous actress I feel a strong responsibility to use my public platform to help amplify the voices who are seldom heard including all the indigenous defenders around the world who are the protectors of our mother Earth, the Amazon Rainforest, and all the biodiversity and animals.”
The film was funded by a variety of organisations including the UK-based Catalysts Foundation, as well as the global Climate Save Movement.
The website for the film www.mobilize.earth aims to raise awareness, action and donations that will go towards the work of Amazon Watch and Extinction Rebellion.
Hollywood has stepped up its efforts to reduce the carbon footprint this awards season including by offering plant-based menus.
Phoenix, who is wearing the same tuxedo from Stella McCartney “for the entire award season to reduce waste”, thanked the Hollywood Foreign Press for recognising and acknowledging the link between animal agriculture and climate change in offering a plant-based menu at the Golden Globes.
“It’s a very bold move making tonight plant-based and it really sends a powerful message,” Phoenix said in a speech to accept his Best Actor award for his role in the Joker.
While he said he didn’t want to “rock the boat”, the boat was already rocking.
“I’ve not always been a virtuous man,” he said.
“But I think together hopefully we can be unified and actually make some changes, it’s great to vote, but sometimes we have to take that responsibility on ourselves and make changes and sacrifices in our own lives and hope that we can do that.
“We don’t have to take private jets to Palm Springs for the award sometimes, or back. Please. And I’ll try to do better and I hope you will too.”
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