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Sundance 2017: 'Chasing Ice' director wants Trump to see his movie

by The Frame Staff | The Frame

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Filmmaker Jeff Orlowski speaks at the 2012 Cineworld in London. Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Sundance/AEG Eu

Filmmaker Jeff Orlowski has been chasing down evidence of climate change with his camera for years now. His 2012 documentary “Chasing Ice" used time lapse photography to document melting glaciers over a three year period. For his new movie, "Chasing Coral" Orlowski has gone under water.

“Chasing Coral" tracks how spectacular oceanic habitats are destroyed by warming oceans. He tells The Frame, "it's a very visual story. You can see coral reefs going from a living, healthy state to dead just in a matter of a couple of months." The film will make it's world premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival in a new program titled "New Climate."

Orlowski explained what a massive endeavor it was documenting the damage to coral reefs on a global scale and how he needed to go beyond his film crew to capture it all.

"At a certain point in this project, we realized that this phenomenon — the coral bleaching phenomenon where the coral turns white because the oceans simply are too hot — was happening all over, in places we couldn't get to ourselves. So we did a call out to a bunch of scuba divers through our network, and we've had hundreds of people contribute and show what's going on in their own backyards."

Many coral reefs are dying from water pollution (from sewage and agricultural runoff), dredging off the coast, careless collecting of coral specimens, and sedimentation.
Many coral reefs are dying from water pollution (from sewage and agricultural runoff), dredging off the coast, careless collecting of coral specimens, and sedimentation. Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Orlowski believes that documentaries like his have the ability to influence the public conversation about climate change. That's something that seems especially important as the White House is about to change hands. 

"From my perspective, I would love to get this film in front of President-elect Trump so he can see what is happening to the planet. He has publicly stated this is not a big issue. This goes against what all of the good science has to say. It's very hard to understand the very complicated nature of this issue but if we can show people an emotional story. If we can show them visual imagery, visual evidence of what's happening that will hopefully have an impact."

After "Chasing Ice" and "Chasing Coral," what's next? Orlowski says, "I certainly hope we can solve climate change instead of continuing to document the demise of the planet. So maybe we need to chase Donald Trump for a little bit for him to see the imagery, see the story, see what's happening and for him to understand the severity – the significance– of this issue."

"Chasing Coral" premiers in January at the Sundance Film Festival.

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