tv Amanpour Company PBS February 14, 2019 4:00pm-5:01pm PST
. hello, everyone and welcome to "amanpour and company." here is what is coming up. >> the future is now on climate change. one potential presidential candidate said we're at the 11th hour and he wants to be the 2020 climate guy. i speak to washington governor jay inslee. then, students around the world on strike from school to demand progress on the issue. i speak to anna taylor, a leader of the youth movement here in britain. and what does climate change look like in real-time? photographer james balog documents the people and the places impacted by cataclysmic change. also high-flying bird turns unconventional on the business
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con tribusions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. welcome to the program. i'm christiane amanpour in london. washington state governor jay inslee is laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign raising money, beefing up his staff and visiting early voting states. but unlike the other, oh, dozen or so candidates already in the 2020 race, inslee promises a laser-like focus on climate change which he calls the existential threat of our time and he's speaking from experience because in the past year alone he's declared a wildfire state of emergency in july and a snowfall state of emergency just days ago. mean while, democrats in congress are lining up behind a green new deal. an ambitious plan to simultaneously tackle climate change and create new jobs and fight economic inequality. republicans think the plan is a
political loser. president trump sarcastically calls it a brilliant idea, tweeting, it would be great for the so-called carbon footprint to permanently eliminate all planes, cars, cows, oil, gas and the military. governor jay inslee joins me now from seattle. welcome to the program, governor. >> thank you for talking about this. i appreciate it. >> well let me ask you, because we just set up the fact you're exploring the possibility of a candidacy for 2020. obviously using this as the major issue. are you going to jump in? this is really, really important. why not? >> here is what we know. we know we have to have a candidate who will make climate change and building a clean energy economy a central focus, an organizing principle for the american people and a president who will do the same. and the reason is we understand the basic nature of the american people.
what we invent and we create and build, this is our moment. you mention the 11th hour, it is the 11th hour. but it is our time to shine. it is our moment because this is really just made for my state and my nation to lead and join the world in developing a clean energy economy. we know we can create jobs by the thousands and millions building the electric cars and solar panels and wind turbines and efficiency in our buildings. this is the greatest not only peril of our time, but i believe promise of our time for economic growth and we're experiencing that now in washington state. so, yes, i am exploring this. ly have a decision here in weeks, not months. and i'm excited about this because as i've traveled the country, i hear people waiting for that bugle call from the white house. we heard it from kennedy when he said we're going to the moon and we need a similar call on this and when they receive that, i
believe they'll rally to this cause. >> you talk about the white house. you obviously heard what -- how we described what the president said. you know, good luck with that carbon footprint and let's eliminate everything, even the military. i guess the question is, how do you speak to people like president trump and people in the united states who do feel that they still need convincing, if they're ever going to be convinced this is a drain on the economy, that this will end the way of life as they know it. you know, how do you convince them? >> well i'm much more interested in the beliefs and value systems of the american people than the narcissistic person who wants to remain willfully ignorant in the white house. i'm interested in the american people and what they are telling me and i've been in new hampshire and nevada and iowa recently, is that they are ready to grow their economy around a clean energy future. look, i've got people, the largest manufacturer of carbon fiber that goes into electric
cars in the western hemisphere in my state in moses lake. we're building batteries like crazy for electric cars in nevada. in iowa they built a multi-million dollars wind turbine industry among the soy beans and cornfields. i'm hearing from americans that they are ready to jump start this clean energy economy. and it is very heartening to me -- look, this is a moment of great excitement when you could create a new horizon. donald trump fundamentally is just fearful and pessimistic. he doesn't think we're smart enough to do this. well he's just wrong about the american people. we are capable of building new solar-powered projects and we are capable -- i met a young man in high school the other day and he said what am going to do with my life and he said, well obviously climate change is the greatest threat to humans. i'm going to go out and build a new battery. and by gum, he's come up with a new lithion ion membrane with
great commercial potential. so fur optimistic about our nation and our planet, if you believe you could build a new generation of technology, then you realize this is a great opportunity. and i believe americans are that basic character and that is what i think and how i talk about this from an issue of character and values of who we are as a people rather than just talking about parts per million. and people are seeing this with their lives now. i was in paradise, california, it looks like dresden after world war ii. a town of 25,000. in miami beach where they've had to raise their roads a foot and a half. now when you walk in miami beach, you look down on the shops rather than eye level. in iowa where farmers could not get out and harvest crops because of massive precipitation events. but the hour is late and it is our hour and i believe we can move. we just need that spark of inspiration from the white house and i've got an idea who might be able to do that. >> well you keep hinting.
you keep increasing the hints. so that is pretty good. let me just pick up on a couple of things because later in the program we're going to be seeing actual photographic evidence of what you're talking about. raised houses and raised advantage points to cope with the rising waters and various other issues. you talked about young people and we're going to be talking to a young school girl here who is in spired, like many school children around the world, to have school strike friday and stand in front of the parliament and demand the government change. so i guess my question also is, i mean, if you are looking to the feature, the kids are sort of -- they're demanding change. they're the new movement really by the young and you got to keep up with it. including the young in congress with this green new deal. >> very inspiring. and we ought to be heartened by the next generation which is the smartest and understands they will be living with this the longest. and this is been a profound
thing in young people's lives. i was asked to speak on climate change at dartmouth in new hampshire a few weeks ago and a young woman told me that she had two friends who were honestly discussing whether they felt comfortable bringing a child into a world that could become so degraded if we don't tame this beast. now when people understand the consequence of that like this in their personal lives, that means it is time to act. and the information just in the last week we received with polar bears invading a town in russia who are starving looking for food, the potential collapse and catastrophic collapse of the insect population of the report just stunning in what it creates a concern of our ability to remain -- have a harvest in the next century. so they understand the consequences of this. but there is another thing about young people they understand. they understand their own potential in the ability to
build whole new universes. look, i've seen the transition from rotary phones to cell phones. they get that big-time. so they are the ultimate optimist and that is why we love and i'm glad in the -- in congress we have this green new deal idea that is raising people's ambitions. it is making the -- what might seem impossible within the realm of the possible and that is how we need to think right now. we need to think big and bold just as we did in the apollo project. but we also have to understand and respond to the threats. >> well given that -- governor, sorry, the tlets you are talking about came from the administration itself. the director of national intelligence in the 2019 worldwide threat assessment sold global environmental and ecological climate change are likely to fuel competition for resources and economic distress and social discontent through 2019 and beyond. so he's laying it out very, very clearly and the american
military has a very similar outlook as well on the national security platform there. but i want to ask you, just to be devil's advocate, how do you respond to others who are getting into the race, like howard schultz for instance, who answered a question about this green new deal and didn't seem as optimistic about being able to achieve it. let's just play this. >> this would be a top priority. but we have to be sensible about it. when i read the proposed bill, in terms of the green new deal, and i read that by 2030 they're suggesting that every building in america is becoming clean energy, conforms to clean energy. just to put that in perspective because it is not realistic, that would mean that between 2000 buildings a day would have to be reconstructed to conform to what they're saying. so let's be sensible about what we're suggesting. let's not just throw stuff against the wall because it is a
good slogan or we get a press release. let's be truthful. it is immoral to suggest that we could tally up 20, 30, 40, $50 trillion of debt to solve a problem that could be solved in a different way. >> is he right? can this be solved in a different way? >> well, howard needs to pay attention to what is going on in his own state. and look at what we're doing in washington state. we now have developed a multi-billion dollars wind turbine industry because we passed a renewable portfolio standard. we have the first or second highest usage of electric cars an the capital for electric drive buses in the hemisphere because we've adopted policies and doing great research at our facilities, developing whole new technologies. we developed charging stations for electric cars. we're moving the needle right here in washington state and soon i believe we'll have a commitment to 100% clean electricity in our state and
clean fuel standard. howard, frankly, doesn't pay attention to those things and he hasn't voted half of the time. he needs to pay attention to what is going on. and if he was so pessimistic when he bought his first coffee stand, 25 years ago or so, he would still only have one coffee stand. this is a moment to raise our sights and ambitions. it is not a moment for passivity and timidity and that is why we need a president who understands the character of the american people that when we set ambitions, we meet them and we are willing to rise up and unify this mission statement. and when we do that, we are capable of amazing things. so look, these are ambitious goals. but goal-setting is what works. >> well, i mean, you already said that being part of the founding member of the governor's alliance, the u.s. climate alliance, you have 21 states on board that represent about a quarter of the u.s. economy. so that is a big deal.
>> right. >> could i move to one other very, very important issue, because it is also a grassroots young people's issue and that is gun control. as you know tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the terrible massacre in parkland, florida and you have had -- some high-profile interactions including with the president when he wanted to decide to sort of potentially arm teachers. again, kids, adolescents are moving this ball along and leaving politicians in the dust. what do you say about where we stand on that issue now? >> well, i say is that we ought to be grateful for the tremendous inspiration of the young people. they have moved the national conversation and you have a thousand tons of inspiration from them and zero out of the white house. you know, when i went to the white house the president still wanted to give block pistols to first grade teachers and i told him he needed to stop tweeting and start listening. listening to educators,
listening to the young people. and we have done so much on gun safety in our state. of closing the gun show loophole and adopting an extreme risk protection act and raising the age of getting assault weapons and now having a liability for gun owners if they are not responsible for their guns. we have been so successful in washington state, we need to replicate that success nationally to do that we need leaders who will walk in and take on the nra and i'm happy to do that and i've done it successfully and we'll continue to do that but thank goodness for the young people. they're our heros right now and i've got to know them. they are my heroes. >> yes. and governor, thank you so much for being with us and tomorrow we will dig down even deeper and we'll talk to some of the survivors of that terrible massacre and the activists who are moving this ball along. so thank you so much. tomorrow, valentine's day marks the first anniversary. >> thank you. now back again to the grassroots activism on climate
change. the worst consequences of climate devastation will be felt by our children and their children. that is why young people are taking matters into their own hands and then mobilizing around the world forcing their leaders to take action now. recently i spoke with greta thunberg, a 15-year-old swedish activist who is inspiring this global movement. >> i think that we children, we understand this in a way that adults don't. my experience is that most people are not fully aware of this crisis. but i think that many children sort of understand this and they understand if they would get all of the information needed, they will do what was required from them and they would stand up and make their voices heard. >> it is a very, very logical train of thought and in britain anna taylor answered greta's
call. she's a leader of youth strike for climate and she's here with me now. welcome to the program. so you have decided to take on what greta has inspired. you've seen it happen in australia and in europe and all of the rest. what was the point when you decided to jump in? >> it was the point in december, 2018, when i was talking about the australian students actually and talking about the tens of thousands students across the world. it made me think about the fact that that wasn't happening in the u.k. and if they -- if it is something that the u.k. should be involved in as well. and that inspired me to start this up. >> it is pretty ambitious what you are trying to do. although, you have so much support from the people your age around the world. but what is your particular teachers, your head teacher at your school, what have they said to you? because i think you plan to walk on this friday? >> yeah. this friday, we do plan to walk out. and i spoke to my teachers last
week and they weren't that supportive. they said they would have to think about punishments. >> punishments? seriously. >> in terms of detention and unauthorized absences. and i spoke to my head teacher yesterday and she changed her mind and was very supportive and said that actually after thinking about it, she does ow whether you heard the don't governor of washington state, but he may run for president of the united states. on a climate change platform. on understanding this is the existential threat of our time. as a 17-year-old, what have you been feeling, thinking, as you look at what the politicians are doing or not doing, your parents or grandparents generation? >> so far i felt let down. i feel betrayed by the government, and past governments and the present government. i feel like they haven't recognized the severity of the crisis enough. and i think a lot of young
people my age are starting to get angry about that. and we don't want to cause disruption. we don't want to just walk out of school because we're playing truant. we feel this is the only way to make our voices heard and i would really like to see a future where the government do listen to us. >> what are your immediate demands? are there any? do you have a platform? are you going to parliament to ask for a list of things or is it just to show presence? >> we've created four demands. so the first one is the government declare a state of climate emergency. and take active steps toward achieving climate justice. the second one is to reform the national curriculum, so that is accurately portrays the severity of the crisis. the third one is to honestly communicate to the general public the severity of the crisis. and the fourth one is to incorporate policy makes and bringing the voting age down to 16. >> and 16 because? >> san francisco becau16 becaus we are able to make an informed decision and at the moment i
think 18 is too old considering that this is our future and the reason we're having to strike is because we have no other way of expressing our opinions. >> so you talked about how it needs to be taught truthfully in school and in the public domain. where does that come from? in other words, how have you sort of noticed the debate so far? >> i'm an a-level student so i'm noted in my textbooks that the limited amount of text on climate change is completely minimized compared to the severity of the crisis as expressed in itcc reports and other reports. >> the u.n. reports. >> yeah, the u.n. reports. and also talking to students in germany and scandinavia. their education is different to ours and they are much more aware and in the u.k. there is a lack of awareness and
communication on behalf of the government. >> and when you see the united states of america, president trump wants to pull out or the u.s. out of the climate deal, you know there are deniers rld in fact. and around the as a kid, an adolescent, how does that make you feel? >> um, it makes me feel frustrated. i would say hopeless. i think the point about the friday of the future movement and the school strikes is that they counteract the feeling of hopelessness, what is going on is giving me hope. and seeing the way that the leaders deny climate change at the moment definitely makes me feel very disappointed. but i do agree that the school strikes are counteracting that. >> and very quickly, people look around and they say, oh, gen z, they will take up this issue today and that issue tomorrow. do you think from all of your friends and from what you're noticing, do you think this will be sustainable? this movement? this grassroots movement. >> i think this feels different. the motivation here feels different. the amount of people who care
about us feels different. and i heard a quote someone else said today, a million snowflakes create an avalanche and i completely agree with that. >> that is brilliant. anna taylor, well done. congratulations. good luck. >> thank you. >> making your voice heard. making all of our voices heard through you. thank you. one thing that we're learning about climate change of course is often has to be seen to be believed. that is why the american environmental photographer james balog is traveling the world, especially the united states, documenting evidence of rapid climate disruption for his new film "the human factor." here is a clip. >> when i became a photographer, i wanted to celebrate the elegance and beauty of nature. but i soon realized there was a more complex story going on in the world. >> very powerful force of mother nature. >> about the collision between people and nature.
and i felt a great sense of urgency to bear witness to that. >> a sense of urgency, just as you heard from anna taylor. and i spoke to balog this week to discuss how climate change is already affecting american lives right here, right now. >> james balog, welcome to the program. >> thank you. nice to be here. >> the trailer we saw had this rather profound statement from you in that something like i wanted to photograph the beauty of nature, and now i realize i have to bear witness to this sort of calamity. expand on how your photography and what you see through the lens, how that is changed. >> well, i've been doing this sort of work for 40 years as an environmental photographer and as time has gone on, i keep witnessing more and more situations where nature clearly isn't natural. where the power of homo sapiens, the human race, is altering what
we see out there in the world. we're altering the earth. we' we're altering at air and water and plants and animals and the more of that i saw, the more i realized i needed to bear witness to that and not just hide behind beautiful nature pictures and the romantic idealism. >> so your film talks about -- it is called "the human factor." and i gather that this is the fifth element of the earth's four elements, which are earth, wind, fire, ice, i think and air. tell me about how quickly these changes are happening and how you notice that through your work? >> well, you know, this idea of earth, air, fire and water goes back to thousands of years. many cultures have had that notion. and the understanding in modern science, this idea of the an throp issy, we're leaving our imprint in the fabric of the rocks and the soil beneath our
feet is what really has helped to bring this story alive. we've seen the way things are changing. we've seen it is urgent and happening right now and of course climate change is one of the more visible and obvious manifestations of that profound impact. and i've come to realize that climate protection equals people protection. and i'm sure we could come back to that later. >> well, no, i think that is important. some people, those who don't believe in climate change or the human element to climate change need to understand that it is about protecting people as much as protecting the civilization. so you start the film in iceland, i believe, with this whole time lapse photography and the ice time lapse you did. what were you achieving there? and what is surprised you about that? >> well, i had been to iceland many times. and seen the way these big
glaciers were breaking down and the -- the water was converting from it's solid state on the glaciers to a liquid state in the ocean. and we went to iceland for the film in order to simply bring that alive through some new pictures that i hadn't done yet. but i think the essential point of the iceland story, the greenland story, the mountain glacier story in north america and europe and in asia is simply that the ice is converting from its solid state in the form of the blue and white glaciers to its liquid state and of course the liquid or when the ice turns into liquid, that winds up in the ocean. and when the water winds up in the ocean, that means sooner or later the ocean level will have to rise. >> so we're going to take the example that you took or one of the examples, tangier island in the chesapeake bay.
there are people who live there and have done for generations intimately and intricately linked to water and yet the scientists say that it could possibly be all under water by 25 to 50 years from now. here is a clip of tangier island and what you found there. >> i'm remember this was all sand when i first came up here. we could take a boat across and we could walk up the west shoreline. >> yeah. >> where we are now is three stone from the bottom here. and that was hard ground at one time. and high enough to support the homes that were up here. and they had a schoolhouse and a small general store and kids up here playing just like on tangier island. and i'm sure at the time they couldn't imagine that their -- their town would be under water some day. >> when you are talking up here at the site of where the community was, it could be depressing. to this day, fragments from the
graveyards that eroded and went into the bay. here is one of the -- one of the headstones from the graveyard. i actually know a guy down on the island, this was his grandmother. >> i mean, james, it is almost too perfect to metaphor. you're seeing those gravestones and the debris from graveyards and you're talking about the potential extinction of this whole island. what did you find people saying? what do they want? do they believe that they have impacted and humans have impacted the climate? >> well, the situation on tangier is a combination of erosion lapping away at the island and rising sea level. and depending on one's philosophical or ideological bent, you focus on one of those
issues or another. i think both of those issues, erosion and sea level rise are part of the story. but many of the people on the island don't like to the sea level rise idea because it comes to them from what they theme as pointy headed intellectuals in the big cities and so they prefer to focus on the erosion. >> also in that area, you visited the norfolk naval base and that is the biggest such base in the world. and you heard from military officials there that it could possibly be a national security problem if seas rise around there. what did you hear there? >> well, what we've heard over and over again through the years, in fact, is that the navy is quite concerned about sea level rise. and it has been a group of different admirals that have led the charge within the pentagon to say, hey, climate change is something we need to pay attention to. because we have all of these
facilities that are built right at sea level, the navy is obviously intimately connected to notions of where the seas are and where the levels of those seas are, and they know that this is real and they've been studying it and that makes them even more concerned about it because of the reality of it. they're not hiding from the story. and i think that is a powerful thing for all of us to remember. the part of the national defense community or the intern-- or th international defense community that is intricately connected with the major changes is waving the flag saying we have a problem here. we have to pay attention to it. >> and just in case somebody might miss that point, it is really ill lustive and dramatic it see the number of families you focus your camera on who have actually been raising their houses over the years. literally taking the whole house and placing them on stilts and then let's move on to air now because you sort of say that it
took you a while to figure out that air was so dramatic and you can't see it, none of us could see it, but you talk about how we fill our lungs with air at least 20,000 times or more per day. and you did this amazing experiment to check out the density of the air. you let off this balloon and it carried a sort of a platform and on it you attached your camera. and it came back down and your camera was in tact and you had amazing pictures captured. but i think what i'd like to ask you about is the tragedy of a family you met in denver, colorado. colorado, which we all connect with mountains and fresh air and this and that, and yet this family have all become asthmatics. i'm going to play the clip and we'll talk about. >> you're going to fast. >> after we moved to this part of town, my older son ruben started developing asthma. my daughter olivia, we had to
start her on medication at the age of one. and then born into it. >> good job. and go rinse your mouth really good, please. >> all four of us have asthma. so we're indoor people. we're not outdoor people. >> how did it impact you just as a human being to see these children, to see our future so compromised? >> it's really wrenching to see those children, some of the children who were in the school within national jewish hospital where these kids go because they need asthma medication all day long and in the school provides opportunities for nurses to give them the medication. it really tears at your heart. they are otherwise ordinary normal looking kids but their -- their systems are stressed by the pollutants and toxins in the
air and their bodies react. we're all getting that same dose of chemistry. but the smaller organisms, the littler people with less body mass react faster than the rest of us do. or more acutely than the rest of us do. be we're all being attacked by the same toxins all of the time. i think there -- they are the distant early warning signals for what is going on. distant is the wrong word. the immediate warning signals for what is going on. >> let's move over to fire. because if anything, we have seen fire really, really wreak havoc this past year in california. we have the amazing pictures from your documentary from your film whereby even you are having a hard time hanging on to your camera, getting the pictures. we see you having to turn away and shake your hand from the heat. tell me what it was like just to do that work. >> it's unbelievably intense.
i almost had my house burn down in the foothills of the rockies a few years back and that is what really triggered this work. and then i went out and i got trained as a wildland firefighter so i had some comprehension of how to handle myself within this dangerous situation. and most of my crew also went to fire school. and so we knew roughly what the -- what the right behavior was and but still we relied on the local fire commanders to help keep us safe. yet for me, when i wanted to get a good picture, i had to get up close and personal with those flames. and what you really can't understand until you've been out there and experienced it, is how incredibly intense that radiation of heat is coming off a flame. a flame that goes from two feet to four feet isn't just twice as hot and powerful when the radiation hits your skin, it is like six or eight or ten times. and then the flame goes up to
ten feet, 20 feet, 100 feet. and it is mind-boggling how hot those things are. and i -- as you comment, that scene in the film where i'm shaking my hands, i thought i had maybe melted the glue and the glass of my lens and then i realized, oh, my god, i think i'm burning my hands because i was in too close to flames. the firefighters were way back behind me, but the guy who had to get the picture was obsessed with his picture and hiding behind his camera. you know that syndrome. >> i know that syndrome. >> you take your shot -- >> i know that syndrome. you've lived and survived to tell the story. >> thought it was really interesting because part of your documentary where you talk about the coal and this administration is trying for its base or for whatever reason to talk about reviving the coal industry and it is very committed to continuing to extract fossil fuels, et cetera. but you went to another town
where the coal industry was dying or is, and you found that unemployed coal worker and former execs are turning to a new solar energy. we're going to play this clip. pwere a company. that i work for we have a lot of co-assets. and i was asked to look at our reclaim sites and to say, okay, what are some ideas. and i was told no matter how far out they may seem or whatever, bring it to us. so i said let me make a few phone calls and so then my friend adam had this idea. >> and i said why don't we do a renewable energy project and ron said what does that mean? hell, solar panels or big windmills or something. >> and i think i kind of surprised him a little bit because i said, well, yeah. >> you know, i'm kind of smiling, james. because i think it is charming. because it goes to the heart of
people are so suspicious and so afraid of what is happened to their industries and yet if enough were prepared to do what ryan and his friend were prepared to do, it might make a difference to know that there are other industries, you could transfer your expertise to. >> i agree with that completely. i want to emphasize that i deeply respect the dignity of hard manual labor. i've done a lot of it myself at different parts in my life long ago. and i know what that is like and i have great admiration and respect for the men and women would do that. my own grandfathers mined coal and my father's father was killed in the collapse of the coal mine in western pennsylvania years ago. so this is embedded in my dna as well. so i found it really heartening to see that in eastern kentucky
where the coal mining industry has been in a downturn for some years, here you have these entrepreneurs that are saying let's look for a different path. let's put some solar panels -- a lot of them up on a mountain top and generation the power more cheaply than our local coal-fired power plants can do and we'll send that electricity down to the communities in the valleys and we'll show a different way. and i think that is -- that is a key point here. we have to understand that technologies change and new opportunities come with those changes. that is always been the way of civilization for a long, long time. and we have to allow those wounds of opportunity for new cheaper forms of energy to come into place. >> and that is truly the american way of course. so let me ask you, look, you have said in the film that there is such a thing as truth. and that you are trying to reveal it one picture at a time.
why do you say that? i mean, i think i know. because the truth about climate is constantly under assault by a handful of deniers. and actually at the moment by a whole administration. what do you hope your picture by picture revelation of this truth might achieve? >> well, for me it is about the evidence. you know, i started out doing this as the visual artist. trying to just look and create an aesthetic response to the world around me even if the world around me was upsetting. i was still trying to make a good picture. but over the years of course i realized that my job is to bring back the evidence of what is going on. i'm almost a collecting forensic information. i feel like i'm a detective sometimes. capturing the story within that rectangle and bringing it back to my society saying, look, here, this is real. this is -- climate change is not something that is going to
happen in a distant imaginary future. here is the evidence of what is happening right now. wake up and pay attention. >> really interesting. james balog of "the human factor." thank you so much for joining us. >> my pleasure. thank you. and we hope all of our climate guests from the governor of washington to anna taylor to james balog have caused us to wake up and pay attention a little more just now. and we're turning now to a different story. with our next guest actor andre holland and the star and scribe of the oscar winning moonlightj and the new film "high flying bird" tells a story of a sports agent in the midst of an nba lockout and follows his fight to put power back into the hands of mainly black athletes -- grappling with social justice and grace and by steven soderbergh who shot it all on a
iphone. they sat down with our michelle martin to talk about "high flying bird" and why it is necessary for african-americans to create their own stories. >> screenwriter tarell alvin mccranny and producer and star andre holland both with us now. thank you for talking to us. >> thank you for having us. >> one of the writers reviewing the film called it the most radical sports film he's ever seen and not just because it is a basketball movie with hardly any basketball in it. tell me about what you were going for. so i understand you worked on this over a period of years, right. >> i think about two to three years. >> what were you going for? >> i think it is what we were going for really. the beginning of the piece came from conversations that andre had been having with steven and they brough me into that conversation. they brought features and clips and articles and books, a very important book, the revolt of the black athlete and they put
it if front of me and said, looking, what do you think about this? how do we make this story into something that is about an industry that circles around one of the most powerful and exciting games ever. >> talk about more about the conversations you were having with steven soderbergh. what was the idea. >> it was two-fold. one we were working on the show and i was enjoying that process and it had been a long time coming. i felt like i got a part i could sink my teeth into. so i thought, if i'm going to have the kind of career that i want it will involve me making things for myself and steven agreed with that and so i had this -- >> which issenero -- which is generous to tell the truth to your face. to know the industry as well as he does, to say you are right. >> he didn't sell me a dream and say keep working hard and keep on auditioning and he said there is not a lane for you so you have to go out and make this stuff. >> i want to get to the film but i want to hear more about what
it felt to hear i got to make my own work and create my own world because it is not going to just be there for me. >> well, the truth is it was sad. it felt sad to me to hear that. i think for so long i thought that going to a good university, going to a good graduate program and then working hard and being on time and being responsible, doing good work was enough. and then i realized that it wasn't. and i could see that other people around me were getting great opportunities. and don't get me wrong. i'm not begrudging anybody or poor me session, but the reality is there were opportunities that people got that weren't available to people of color. i think you've had similar experiences -- >> absolutely. >> -- realizing the limitation. >> the slap on the face was the bump on the glass ceiling which i'm sure you understand, there is a moment you recognize the
american dream is a bit of a wolf ticket. they tell you in the good schools that we've gone to and the institutions that we go through there is no limit to your imagination and in fact there is. there is an industry constantly keeping you checked and balanced if terms of how far you could go and how far you could fail. how many jobs you have to take, how many projects you need to do at once just to keep up with your white counterparts or your white peers. we begrudge our friends nothing. we're not trying to take anything away from them. but we are being asked to do more for less. and clearly you could see how that made its way into the eej -- into the ethos of the filth. > perfect segue into that and let's see the plan and for people that haven't seen it. what if the players were in control?
>> the money would go direct to you. no players association. no league. >> just 10% for you and taxes, right? >> eric, it ain't about the is makes you the decider, hem brother. the game that they made over the game is over. it is your game now. if you want it. come on, we don't need to leave, man. we don't need the players association. let them battle that [ bleep ] out for the next few months and while you and me and a few others and we pay event by event. but without the brain damage. >> well, okay. it is about control. who do you think your audience is for this film? >> i start with an audience of one. trying to make sure that the person who began studying and researching and having conversations with andre and steven soderbergh about this, will i be fed? will i know more than i did
before? increasingly you want folk who engage in -- engage in any system in this country in the way it works to want to look at this and see, yes, the critique but also how we all play a part in it. how we all hold up -- hold up the system in some ways. and are afraid to be disruptors. i know i have that fear. i still have that fear. and i think the engagement around that conversation is what i'm interested in. i'm interested in -- i'm not interested in folks who want to talk about that. >> andre, what about you? who are you interested in talking to. >> it is interesting, i've been think being it a lot and tonight we have our first public screening of the film. and my nephew who is 12 years old is coming to see it. and he's a -- >> is he a baller? >> no. well he could play. he could play. at the beginning of it. he could hoop. but he is a young white boy from alabama and it is important to see it and somebody who looks
like him taking charge of their own live. >> what is it you want him to see? do you want him to see disruption and that you could think thoughts that have not already been handed to you? >> exactly. >> you could read from a script that you wrote. >> that and also that you could say -- you could look at at the circumstances of the life and say, well, i could still have something within this and take charge of the situation and shape my life to be what i want it to be, regardless of what people have told me is possible for myself. >> i was describing the film to people who have not yet seen it and one person said it is like black panther without the magic. >> oh, i have to think about it. >> because in a way what they're saying is it had to be made up. because the idea that the players could take a controlling position seemed like science fiction. >> and that is the terrifying thing about it. we believe that this disruption or new system or this way of
putting control in the players' hands is far and distant in science fiction but in truth it is actually right there. all people really need to do is reach out and do it. and i think again it goes back to the question of how much agency do you actually want? >> well, but as we've seen with the protests by nfl players and have largely dissipated by the way, they're nonviolent protests over police violence and other issues have not been well-received by some people. even setting aside the fact that the president has been harping on this because one assumes that he finds it to be a good issue for him, you have to assume that it wouldn't be a good issue for him if what he is saying didn't resonate for certain people and so the bottom line is for some people they don't want to hear it. sports is my release, my relaxation and i don't want to bring your politics into it or they say. look, these people are making big money, what do i care what they think. pull up your shorts and play.
and so what do you -- what do you both say to them? >> to the people who say, well, shut up and dribble? would say that there has been a long lineage of people who have been athletes who have also been activists and vocal about this. dr. harry edwards who consulted with us on this obviously and book we -- whose book we borrowed from? >> how many sociologists make an appearance -- >> i don't know. he's such a great guy. and he believes in what we were trying to do and helped us to sort of stay on the right track but he helped me to the history of this. it is going on for a long time. so i would say that citizens have a right or a responsibility to speak up and to be vocal and to be political, i think. and i don't think athletes are any exception to the rule. >> the moment you start telling citizens not to have their politics involved, you have to look at the economics of it. which is 60 be% to 70% after th tenure in the nfl, five years
later they are in financial duress. same with the nba. if they are not a marquee player and haven't banked a kind of wealth that they could sort of rest on for the rest of their lives, then they and their family now fall into financial burden. but also if it is a matter of just shut up and dribble, then why do we wear jordans? the legacy of the people on the court is going into the kind of feeling that is intimate, it is both policy of a city and means something when a player leaves or is traded. people really feel betrayed by that. that is not just shut up and dribble. that means that is -- that is connected to a community. that is connected to folks. so you can't ask a person to represent those things to be economically engaged in those ways and then to have no ability to speak out for what should be their betterment. >> one of the things that struck me about the film is that it is not just about control, it is also about vulnerability.
it shares with the other work you all have done together, moonlightmoon light the much lauded film from your play in which you had a role in. i wonder if there is any way your upbringing informed this film as well. because the hard road you had, you lost your mother at a young age and did it form this in some way. >> of course. but i think the friendship and what you touched on that is relevant is the bond that dre and i have. dre is ann incredible actor but also people don't know this, was an incredible athlete. and when you are an athlete and one of the big gifted kids in your community, you are often told you have the talent and the keys to go elsewhere and make money and go away from here. and then again like we've just been talking about, we get to this place and we recognize that there is a lie that has been told and that the community that we want to be here with us isn't
afforded the ability to be here and that the ability to give back to them is also constrained in many ways. >> there are three consequential women's roles in the film. the players union rep, the mom who is also the manager of the kind of -- one of the players and maybe a chief rival of the star and also the kind of rising star who works with your character, the agent, who is also i guess the girlfriend of one of the players sort of to. i want to ask about that. was it important for you to highlight the role of women? because again women don't generally play a big role in sports movies. >> yeah. it is very important to me that we include three dimensional women. because the more reason that we did and discovered there are women who were involved in professional athletics and so we wanted to make sure we are doing best we can to tell their story as well. >> thank you for trespassing. >> i'm sorry. >> but you know desperate times,
right? >> lady, you have a bright future. >> you sure about that suggestion -- >> that is exactly where we are headed. come work for us. we could use you -- >> i don't like to be used. >> before we started shooting, we got together and -- >> so he plays the -- she's your assistant but kind of a co-agent with you. let's get real about that. >> exactly. so she and i got together for lunch to talk about the script and then sonja and i got together and we sat down and said, well what -- what do you see here? what do you see in this woman, that we have on the page and what can we add or take away that will make her feel fully realized for you. and so i think that spirit of openness is something that we have with each other and i think that we had throughout this process. so it is nice to see that representation. >> i do want to talk a little bit about the fact that the environment in film making in
hollywood and the entertainment industry is so royaled around so many of the issues around race and opportunity, around the way women are treated, the me-too movement, the lgbtq community is speaking out particularly on the wake of the hope kevin hart thing with the oscars and saying we have something to say about how we're depicted and represented and as artists i'm wondering does this moment feel fertile or fraught? >> i will say this, it feels like a time for community. a lot of people are like, well why a basketball film? it was because one of my best friends felt really -- felt it really important and then made me see how really important it was. and community so me is the way -- is how i've always wanted to create and make art. i'm interested in working with my people and creating the story we need for our nourishment for
now. >> and there is a window now and more people are getting through it but i don't feel like i've ever been in a place where i felt completely just free to sort of do whatever i wanted to do or -- i've always been aware of the pitfalls and i think maybe that is a part of -- this is a version of vulnerability that we understand. >> well andre holland, tarell alvin mccranny, thank you for talking with us. >> thank you for having us. and "high flying bird" could be seen on netflix and selected stations. thank you for joining us on "amanpour and company" and do join us again tomorrow night. >> uniworld is a proud sponsor of "amanpour and company." when b. tollman 60-year culinary
career began she didn't know the recipes from her cook book would make the way to her river cruise line. uniworld, this cuisine is in spired through europe, asia and india and egypt. because according to bea, to travel is to eat. bookings available through your travel adviser, for more information visit uniworld.com. >> additional support has been provided by roslin p. walter, bernard and irene swartzs, sue and he had guard walkenheim iii and the cheryl and mills team family, seton melvin, judy and josh weston, the j.p.b. foundation and by con trib upgss to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> you're
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