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Cultures of Energy

Cultures of Energy brings writers, artists and scholars together to talk, think and feel their way into the Anthropocene. We cover serious issues like climate change, species extinction and energy transition. But we also try to confront seemingly huge and insurmountable problems with insight, creativity and laughter. We believe in the possibility of personal and cultural change. And we believe that the arts and humanities can help guide us toward a more sustainable future. Cultures of Energy is sponsored by Rice University’s Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences (CENHS, pronounced ‘sense’). Join the conversation on Twitter @cenhs and on the web at culturesofenergy.com
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Jul 21, 2016

Cymene and Dominic briefly highlight the plight of refugee polar bears in Iceland and pitch PolarBearLand as a creative response. Then (9:34) we welcome to the podcast celebrated Icelandic actor and director, Benedikt Erlingsson. We talk about his first feature film, Of Horses and Men (Hross í Oss, 2013), Iceland’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards, and what he finds fascinating about human-horse relationships. We discuss the differences between Icelandic and American horse cultures and what he thinks horses reveal about humans as dangerous animals. Then Benedikt gives us a glimpse of his current film project, A Woman at War, an “action-arthouse-ecological thriller.” It concerns a middle-aged musician who takes it upon herself to save the world by sabotaging the electricity to Iceland’s aluminum smelters. This leads us to a conversation about self-sacrifice, dangerous ideas, and what he views as an inevitable coming radicalization of politics. Benedikt discusses the struggle to change our environmental doomsday trajectory and why he finds the myth of Prometheus such an apt analogy for our present situation. He also shares his reaction to a remarkable meeting with the World Bank in which they asked filmmakers to do more to change popular attitudes about climate change. In closing we discuss his support for a landmark project to limit further development in the Icelandic highlands and how to find the stories that will inspire people to accept radical change. Our thanks again this week to Iceland’s national broadcasting service, RÚV, for graciously allowing us to use their studio space and to CENHS fellow Magnús Sigurðsson for engineering and editing the recording.

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