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STUDIO: New Video Group
RATED: NOT RATED
RUNNING TIME: 74 Minutes
- 12 additional full-length TEDTalks
A documentary with the audacity to suggest that there is hope.
Daphne Zuniga, Al Gore, Tony Robbins, Thomas fucking Dolby, and a host of other artists, entrepreneurs and others looking for ways to better living for all of mankind through their work.
“How’s this for an inconvenient truth: I’m hung like Easter fucking Island.”
Every year, for the past eighteen years, the world’s leading entrepreneurs, artists, scientists, environmentalists and the like all gather in one place: the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference in Monterey, California. The goal of the meeting is for all of these brilliant minds to meet with all of the world’s most able-walleted entrepreneurs with the expressed intent of making the world a better place for all. The newest part is a recent addition to the conferences, in the earlier years it was more a meeting ground for exciting ideas with those blessed with the financial ability to foster these ideas and allow them to expand. With the arrival of new host Chris Andersen, the focus of the conference shifted to make it that these people were all gathered in one place to try and figure out ways to fix what’s ailing this big blue marble. This documentary in particular focuses on the 2006 TED conference, which features a wide array of talent, perhaps the most famous being Al Gore who brought his inconvenient PowerPoint truths to the table in order to bring to light the ways in which humanity is working against its assumed goal of living in harmony with its land.
“Your plan to cut the mortality rate in Africa down by changing the means with which they cook their food isn’t unlike the uphill climb faced by my character Kim Maida in the made-for-TV 1983 film Quarterback Princess.”
The year 2007 will be remembered not only as a year of great cinema, but also as a year where the finest works weren’t afraid to tell the viewers a story with an unrelentingly dark or distressing message at its core. Just a peek at the best picture nominees is enough to get one down on the prospects for the future of humanity (unless we fall in love with those who impregnate us), a cacophony of venomous messages about the nature of man. You can’t stop what’s comin’, indeed. So it was a real breath of fresh to get some material in front of me that didn’t suggest that we are future-fucked and that there may actually be hope for the future.
It rubs the lotion on its skin or your money back.
The documentary is suitably low-fi and focuses most of its energy on showcasing the speakers and the general vibe of the TED convention instead of getting into any cinematic flourishes. Daphne Zuniga is warm presence as the MC of the proceedings, and she has the layman’s perspective and thirst for knowledge as to what these titans of art and commerce are up to that really comes through and even slightly imparts itself upon you as you watch it. However, the documentarians seem to realize that the real show is in the speeches and key-note speakers themselves and the documentary focuses on them appropriately. There’s a wide Diaspora of viewpoints here; atheists take the floor right after devout religious types, there’s not really any room for divisive talk here (politics are a no-no as per the TED-head’s request), only room for speeches about topics that will work toward the betterment of humanity. For some this is a more philosophical and theoretical workshop to push ideas to move us forward as a people while others have more concrete goals in mind: laptops in the hands of every child in Africa, a website where everyone can communicate different ideas toward the goal of creating sustainable and affordable housing for all regardless of income, etc.
The most startling of all information unveiled at the TED conference: the Zunigraph, chronicling the distribution of her performances on film versus television as the decades passed.
The main thrust of the piece is following the TED prize winners, which was a new wrinkle just recently added to the TED conferences. It seems to have sprung from a “show, don’t tell” position, where it’s no longer good enough to bring all of these people of influence/affluence together in one place and create a heady brew of palpable change for just these few days, they had to have designs on actual physical results springing from their efforts. Each TED prize winner receives a wish, which all of the conference members then immediately go to work on making become a reality. An example of one of these wishes coming true is the one.org program, which sprung from Bono’s 2005 wish. There’s a certain thrill in seeing businessmen who aren’t after the bottom line working alongside nonprofit organizations when everyone has the same goal: Making things better. And while some TED wishes in this documentary seem a little more esoteric than others, they all have their heart in the right place and each one makes you feel as though there’s a chance we will pull through, at least until the Glaxrons arrive in the year 2085 and feast on our life essence as they raze the galaxy. Until then, this will do as uplift for troubled times.
“The food here, not unlike that provided by Famous Dave’s on the set of Vision Quest.”
It’s a brief piece (a little south of seventy minutes), but it exists more as a primer for the fact that such a convention exists that a deep invasive documentary as to its history or where these speakers come from. And while almost every speaker sees something startlingly wrong with the direction we’re heading in as a civilization, they all have solutions that are interesting at worst and emotionally charged and rousing at best. Recommended if you need a little pick-me-up given the current state of things, and quite frankly who doesn’t at this point.
The great equalizer when surrounded by physicists, millionaires and politicians? Spaceballs.
The cover art is sleek and true to the simplicity of the TED conference itself. I Heart Civilizationbees, essentially. In terms of extras, you get two discs worth of material, and this is the rare situation where it feels like the feature film is merely an appetizer to the bonus features’ main course. While the documentary covers exactly what the TED convention is about and what it stands for, the special features let the TED guests of honor speak for themselves; there’s three full-length TED talks on the first disc while the second disc is entirely comprised of TED talks (although the three from the first disc overlap onto the second, disappointingly). These are all engaging presentations, with some particular favorites being Daniel C. Dennett’s refutation of many of the points of Rick Warren’s book A Purpose Driven Life with Mr. Warren in attendance, Sir Ken Robinson’s dialogue on creativity and how schools should work toward fostering it instead of teaching to past tests (the new American pastime), and Majora Carter’s impassioned plea for environmental justice so the few don’t have to suffer the burden of toxic waste and pollution of the majority being placed disproportionately into their economically stressed living space. Again though, all of them are worth listening to just to see how these experts in their field attack the notion of inspiring and influence people to see from their perspective in an eighteen minute time span. Each TEDtalk also comes with a short biography of the speaker, for a little extra clarity. Also housed on the first disc are a sort of “where are they now?” for the TED award winners, showing what progress has been made in terms of their wishes from the conference. There are some Docurama trailers and other information about the company also housed within. A really enjoyable collection of material to complement the sort of starter’s pistol that is the documentary.
“So dollface, what say you and me Fly II to my place and I’ll show you my Gross Anatomy and the only Sure Thing is that we’re going to wake up Naked in the Cold Sun. MelrosePlaceLastRitesStayingTogetherTheDormthatDrippedBlood.”
8.2 out of 10