By Irrayna Uribe (Dallas, TX)
I went to Sundance this year along with a cool (referring to the snowy weather in Park City, UT) crowd of movie enthusiast. The independent movie crowd truly inspires my creativity. One of my favorite movies at the festival tries to inspire us change! The creators of The Cove are back with a new spin on saving Planet Earth. Nature has sent up a distress signal and the filmmakers of Racing Extinction have discerned its cries for help. Through beautiful underwater cinematography and espionage maneuvers, Racing Extinction attempts to give voice to creation.
This documentary proposes that Earth is on the verge of its next major mass extinction event, the last one happened 66 million years ago with the extinction of the dinosaurs. Racing Extinction tries to counter the cycle of extinction by issuing a warning about the causes that accelerate the likelihood of a sixth major extinction event. The film leads off with the premise that humanity is killing various endangered species to the point of extinction. However, the film concludes with an unexpected accusation.
Racing Extinction makes a case for preserving the earth by first looking at animals that are close to extinction. The filmmakers go undercover to expose an American restaurant that serves illegal whale meat, as well as, Chinese businesses that export legally protected endangered animals. The next stop on the film’s race against extinction is an endangered species “zoo” that houses the last known living animal of various species. Then, advocates go to an Indonesian community that makes its living from hunting manta rays to persuade them to stop hunting these animals for fear of extinction.
When this does not work, filmmakers show-n-tell the advocacy process for changing international rules to include the mantas as a protected endangered species. As a result of a successful campaign to protect the mantas, the Indonesian community needs to adjust to a new way of life. The advocates are present to assist, showing that they are not only willing to identify the problem but also be a part of the solution.
Then the film zooms off on another tangent. After all, it’s the production of livestock that affects climate change, and increases the carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere which in turn increases the acidity in the oceans which affects ocean life. Racing Extinction adds to the list of black market behaviors the rate at which we consume meat, so they suggest we decrease our consumption of meat. The filmmakers develop a holographic show to promote their ideas on protecting the earth and the creatures that are threatened by humanity’s lifestyle choices. Using an environmentally friendly Tesla, of course, they exhibit the show around town.
We learn, however, that even the carbon dioxide released from the production of Racing Extinction, a film that advocates for changes in our behavior to save the planet, contributes to the adverse environmental conditions that precipitate our extinction. The call to action is to change our eating habits, and be politically involved advocates.
The filmmakers paint a beautiful picture of the appreciation of life. The filmmakers identify a problem, the planet’s decline. Then they propose a primary culprit, humanity. The race, however, is not merely to save endangered species from humanity. The filmmakers are trying to race against a clock that cannot be stopped.
Racing Extinction magnifies that living—breathing air, growing and sleeping—creates an atmosphere for death. We see through the eyes of a camera the winding down of the cycle of life. It seems that no matter how we endeavor to replenish the earth, we consume our resources at a higher rate than they are replenished. Racing Extinction’s anxiousness to save the planet reflects the groaning of the earth at the hand of time. Stopping the death of this planet is life trying to stop the progression of time. Animals will go extinct and the wonders we behold will change, then disappear.
The film’s old earth perspective is debatable. The planet’s cycle of life and death may actually be shorter than the film assumes. Regardless of the length of its life, the planet yearns for relief from the cruelty it suffers. But, the race is not just humanity against animal. The greater setting is creation against time. Inadvertently, this film focuses on the effects the planet endures not just from humanity, who has been eating animals since the Great Flood, but from the mere progression of time. Sooner or later time devours all things. Life eats away time. When life stops there will be no need for time…the Race will be over…we will all be extinct.