Best of the fest: Thin Line’s best doc tackles big topic

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IMG_2407 (1)Preston Barta // Editor

After last night unveiled Thin Line’s secret screening as RICHARD LINKLATER: DREAM IS DESTINY, a rich and fulfilling film documenting the life and work of the acclaimed Texas filmmaker (BOYHOOD, DAZED AND CONFUSED), and showcased many great films and shorts, the most impactful film came from filmmaker Josh Fox with HOW TO LET GO OF THE WORLD (AND LOVE ALL THE THINGS CLIMATE CAN’T CHANGE).

The film opened the Denton festival on Wednesday night and it has carried with many attendees, including myself, since. Audiences literally gasped throughout the entire film’s two-hour running time, which is a rare experience in my years of critiquing and attending festivals.

We watched as Fox traveled to 12 countries on six continents, investigating our world’s most threatening issue: climate change.

HOW TO LET GO OF THE WORLD. Photo courtesy of HBO Films.

HOW TO LET GO OF THE WORLD. Photo courtesy of HBO Films.

Sure, we’ve seen film take on this particular subject — Al Gore’s AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH coming first to mind — but if you are familiar with Fox’s work (GASLAND), you know he’s not a filmmaker who simply presents you with the basic facts and plays it safe. He cuts deep and exposes you to the most devastating evidence in a case.

At the end of Spike Lee’s 1988 film SCHOOL DAZE, we see actor Laurence Fishburne as a fiery exemplar of righteousness running around a campus screaming “Wake up!” to the entire student body. This iconic scene was meant to encourage students to take notice of what was going on around them and do something about it.

Fox’s film inspires us to do just the same and more.

“To want to do nothing — it’s so stupid to think that way,” Fox says in the film, after visiting China and its increasing concern about poisoned air.

The world is a gift and through our greed we are paying the price. Forests are being wiped clean, ice and coasts are chipping away, water is being contaminated, animals and people are dying all around — the list goes on.

It’s always difficult to swallow truth, and Fox is aware of this. To shake up the formula, he presents the film in the most relatable and innovative way by making it personal and immersive. Similar to the approach taken in last year’s THE BIG SHORT, about the 2008 housing bubble, Fox doesn’t drown you with the material. He knows when to pump the brakes and allow his audience digest the information, otherwise we’d be overwhelmed to a grand degree.

Through a well-balanced offering of facts, firsthand accounts, humor and striking images, HOW TO LET GO OF THE WORLD earns its deeply profound status and importance in the cinematic time capsule.

The film is currently on a 100-city tour. If you missed it at Thin Line, visit www.howtoletgomovie.com to sign up your city, or catch it on HBO this summer.

Thin Line continues today with some more captivating events including the premiere of DARE TO DRUM, a performance by Jessie Frye and photography collection at the Golden Triangle Mall in Denton.
Schedules and more information can be found on www.thinlinefilmfest.com.

Trailer: HOW TO LET GO OF THE WORLD AND LOVE ALL THE THINGS CLIMATE CAN’T CHANGE from JFOX on Vimeo.

Previously published on DentonRC.com.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.