Directed by Charles Ferguson, “Time to Choose” is a documentary made over the course of several years about the struggles we face in trying to shift our reliance toward renewable energy and why it needs to be done as urgently as possible.
Broken into three parts, the film examines coal mining in Appalachia and China, oil refining effects on the Niger Delta, and the destruction of rainforests across the world.
As Oscar Isaac narrates alongside beautiful classical music, we’re shown gorgeous landscapes, followed by images reflecting how our everyday activities result in the destruction of such picturesque views. But not all of the blame is put on the consumer. While there are moments chastising us for consuming too much meat and/or not riding bikes enough, the film more so seeks to uncover to hidden operations that are shortening the life span of our planet. The filmmakers share illegally obtained footage of government mandated forest fires and inform us on how the vocabulary of certain legislation was changed to allow coal sludge to be dumped into Appalachian creeks – despite the fact that it releases toxic amounts of metals into the water supply and leaves several residents with terminal brain tumors — that part was hard to stomach.
There exists a fluctuation within this film, as it calmly takes you from moments of discontent to moments of optimism. Shuffled in are several interviews, some with scientists reminding us just how much we have damaged the planet, and others with engineers and businessmen who are consoling us with facts of how much the price of solar panels has lowered and how the wind-turbine industry is flourishing.
The creators also touch on a “magical” thing that happened over the course of filming: a point where renewable energy became less expensive than fossil fuels
There are quite a few moments in this film that would lead me to suggest you not go see it, mainly due to the sheer frustration you will experience for several hours following. But amidst that frustration, you’ll also feel a sense of empowerment, maybe you’ll want to do what you can to save the Muriqui monkey population, or you’ll follow the development of better city planning that can help significantly decrease the amount of air pollution.
It’s a frustrating topic, but Ferguson manages to explain it in a way that doesn’t leave you feeling utterly hopeless. As Isaac’s soothing voice reminds you at the close of the film, “The world would be a much better place if we didn’t need oil, and soon we won’t.”