In Review :: YES! Film Picks
Directed by Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, 2009, 87 min.
“Iraq War Ends,” declared The New York Times. “Nationalized Oil to Fund Climate Change Efforts,” proclaimed another headline.
The edition reached thousands on the streets of Manhattan last year. Caught on film were shocked commuters.
“Is this real?” one woman asked the camera.
As the security guards outside the Times building made clear, the answer was no. The paper was the work of the Yes Men, filming the climactic scene in their latest movie.
A follow-up to The Yes Men (2003), The Yes Men Fix the World stars Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno as they land TV interviews and speaking gigs by impersonating executives from a parade of corporate baddies like Dow Chemical, Exxon, and Halliburton. Bichlbaum and Bonanno engage in entertaining corporate sabotage by weaseling onto the world stage with fake websites, creative hairstyles, and a deep faith in the First Amendment.
The challenge, of course, is how the Yes Men plan to make their dream world come true, and here the movie is disappointingly superficial. Through interviews with “free marketeers,” the Yes Men emphasize the evils of corporate greed. But in a segment about post-Katrina New Orleans, it becomes evident that government—even a government led by Barack Obama rather than George W. Bush—doesn’t work so great, either.
Although the Yes Men don’t show it, there is a middle ground. We can’t tackle climate change, for example, by nationalizing the oil industry—the phony Times headline is amusing, but does anybody really want the government drilling for oil?—but we can use market-based instruments like carbon taxes or cap-and-trade systems.
Hopefully this message will be part of the mobilization campaign that the Yes Men are working on for the Copenhagen climate conference next month. With this film, they manage to amuse us, and perhaps even motivate us along the way.
—Yoram Bauman is an environmental economist and stand-up comedian in Seattle. His forthcoming book is The Cartoon Introduction to Economics.
Directed by ana Sofia joanes , 2009, 72 min.
The evocative images of American family farms and candid interviews with the people who run them emphasize the mantra for Fresh: “Eat local.” Most viewers probably know that already, but the cinematography and feel-good message will make you want to run out and start a garden today. Look for Will Allen of Growing Power, featured in the spring 2009 issue of YES! Magazine.
Bullfrog Films, 2008, 88 min.
What would you do if you knew how many toxins were in your body? In her documentary Homo Toxicus, Canadian filmmaker Carole Poliquin learns that her blood contains 110 toxins. So she sets out to visit communities exposed to pollution across Canada, from Montreal to Nunavut, and realizes she is one of the lucky ones.
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