Film Review: Before the Flood

A new call for action on Climate Change.

-by Eliana Bollati

Climate change. It’s arguably the most important issue in the world right now. At the end of September scientists confirmed the earth’s atmospheric carbon levels have pushed past the 400 parts per million mark. Permanently.

Despite decades of research and debate, the issue remains both complicated and divisive. So actor & activist Leonardo DiCaprio, and Academy Award winning director Fisher Stevens, set out to create a film which would make the problem more accessible.

“Try to have a conversation with anyone about climate change & people just tune out…” DiCaprio tells us in the opening lines of the trailer.



Before the Flood premiered last month at the Toronto International Film Festival. It boasts a sprawling soundtrack by award winning composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (The Social Network), breathtaking cinematography and a slew of influential leaders, scientists and experts.

It chronicles DiCaprio’s journey as the UN Ambassador for Peace. Taking the actor across the globe in his quest to not only make the facts accessible, but to also search for the solutions.

“I am consumed by this…” DiCaprio told Rolling Stone in February 2016, detailing how his passion became something of an obsession as he learned more about the science behind climate change.




Fisher Stevens, who’s last environmental documentary The Cove won him the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2010, believes we “can no longer turn a blind eye to the issue of climate change.”

Yet turning a blind eye is exactly what many elected officials are doing.

Indian Environmentalist Sunita Narain points this out within the film, delivering a scathing indictment of America’s dependence on fossil fuels, “we are doing more investment in solar today than the US” she says. Referring to India’s US $19 billion dollar investment in solar energy.

Australia’s fossil fuel addiction is no less troubling than that of the USA. We currently rank in the world’s top 50 global emitters, despite having one of the most sparsely populated nations on the planet.

In 2015 only 2.4% of all electricity generated in Australia in 2015 came from solar power, and only 4.9% came from wind power. In Western Australia only 12% of generated electricity is provided through renewable energy sources.

According to the latest Clean Energy Report, Australia will need to build at least 30 large scale solar and wind projects if we intend to meet our Renewable Energy Target (RET).  Despite this, many Australian politicians have been more interested in discrediting renewable energy resources than embracing them. In the last two years alone, Australian Politicians have exaggerated the links between wind farms, infra sound and health risks.

More recently severe weather and power outages in South Australia has led many commentators to caution against rushing to adopt renewable energy resources. Despite experts at the Grattan Institute reporting that such a link was tenuous at best.

“We’re knowingly doing this.” DiCaprio admonishes.

It’s difficult to argue with him.

INDONESIA- Leonardo with Orangutans in the Leuser Ecosystem. For two years, Leonardo DiCaprio has criss-crossed the planet in his role as UN messenger of Peace on Climate Change. This film, executive produced by Brett Ratner and Martin Scorsese, follows that journey to find both the crisis points and the solutions to this existential threat to human species. © 2016 RatPac Documentary Films, LLC and Greenhour Corporation, Inc. All rights reserved.

Perhaps despite the inaction of Australia’s elected officials on the issue, the public can take some small solace in knowing that Before the Flood was produced by RatPac Entertainment. This production company is owned in part by the Australian investor and philanthropist, James Packer. Packer appears in the film’s credits as a producer.

With no Australian cinema release on the cards right now, Australian audiences will have to wait until October 30th to make up their minds about the documentary. It will premiere’s on Foxtel’s National Geographic channel as a mini-series and will also be available to watch online through their website.


Photo credits: tiff.net, collider.com

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