Racing Extinction

Over the past week, Park City, Utah – and every major publication across the country – have been buzzing about “The Cove” director Louie Psihoyos‘ documentary “Racing Extinction.” The film – which I saw a screening of last summer when it was still temporarily titled “6” – debuted to the public for the first time during Sundance and has only received rave reviews, a trend that will likely continue if released to mainstream theaters. So what’s all the good press about?

Like “The Cove,” “Racing Extinction” addresses the issue of animal cruelty as it relates to ethics and also environmental degradation as a whole. While it was one of my favorite documentaries, “The Cove” was hard for many to stomach. Regardless, it won a well-deserving Oscar and continues to be a focal point of discussion in the world of environmentalists. But what about those outside that realm? The regular Joe’s or the corporate world? Youths who are less inclined to pick up a documentary on policy and animals than the latest slapstick comedy or robot invasion film?

I had the opportunity to sit down with Louie last year while he was still wrapping up “Racing Extinction.” He told me that he made “The Cove” with people like us in mind, people who had an understanding of the issues at hand already and therefor could focus on facts and discoveries rather than piecing together the context behind them. This time around, he had that other demographic in mind; he wanted the documentary to be “cool” – like James Bond cool. He wanted others to want to see it when they saw the trailers and movie posters on billboards, and not just because their teacher introduced it in the classroom. Because, what “Racing Extinction” addresses – and why it was originally called “6” – is the state of our world as we enter the sixth extinction of the planet. It’s a grave message, and one that, like “The Cove” is a hard pill to swallow, but it’s as pressing of a matter as any. Louie wanted to figure out how to make a message that applies to everyone come across in a way that appeals to everyone.

And so in true “Cove” fashion – equipped with the most hidden wires and cameras – Louie’s special OPS (Oceanic Preservation Society) team sets off to capture everything, from the endangered species black market to factory farming to overpopulation to extinction to carbon emissions, and thoroughly – gracefully – explains how all are connected, who’s responsible, and how each can be reversed. While some scenes are a lot to take on, even for those who have seen similar footage, the overall goal of the movie was to use positive images of nature to encourage the general public to give a damn again. In a world that moves as fast as ours, where you can miss the most genuine moment in the blink of an eye while you scroll through your social media apps, this message needed something that moved just as fast; defining guerrilla journalism, Louie also hops in a Tesla to cruise the world and spread the message as he pulls audiences in to join him while he literally races extinction.

Following Sundance the documentary will be shown in several public and private screenings throughout the country, with more dates likely to be added. True Luxury Life/Lux & Eco is in the midst of organizing our own screening, so keep posted for that event! And in the meantime learn about the film by visiting the site and seeing how you can make one of the biggest films of our time also the biggest movement.

Allison Beauregard

Allison is a New York City based writer with a focus on sustainability. Her work demonstrates how it is possible to have the “things” that make us happy without compromising the resources that provide these goods. With this vision, Allison sees a future where environmental degradation is reversed and the quality of human life is equally distributed. She is the Category Editor of The Franklin Report and was among the top 5 contributors for Elephant Journal in October 2014.

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