Bentonville Film Festival: “Youth v Gov” Review

Bentonville Film Festival: “Youth v Gov” Review

-Allison McCulloch

 110 mins. | USA | 2020

Director: Christi Cooper
Writers: Christi Cooper, Lyman Smith
Producers: Olivia Ahnemann, Christi Cooper

This documentary covers the Juliana vs. United States lawsuit: young people suing the U.S. government for prioritizing fossil development. Every U.S. President from Jimmy Carter to Donald Trump is reprimanded: yes, even Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, despite what they said to adoring audiences. I was even shocked to learn that even though Jimmy Carter was all about solar energy, his administration increased reliance on coal – yes, coal!

Most of the 21 plaintiffs were children; the minors go by their first names in the doc. The youngest, Levi, was asked by the minister at his church to join and he said “sure”, because he cares about the environment.

While some of the editing was weird (it starts with laying into Obama’s hypocrisy before the other presidents who came before him), the documentary no doubt covered one of the most important issues of our time. If the house is indeed on fire, there should be 74 million plaintiffs against the United States, and not just 21. However, the voices of young people of all ages and from different backgrounds were included. The message remains clear: the people in power do not care and citizens will have to fight tough battles. The worst part is that the U.S. government cannot be sued for their inaction. But they have actively been promoting fossil fuel energy, so there is hope that justice will prevail.

Judge Josephine Staton decided in favor of the plaintiffs; unfortunately, the other judges on the panel decided against them. The case continues (they’ve appealed to the Supreme Court and the Biden Administration could settle the case), so it’s not over yet! The film ends by showing the number of climate change cases state-by-state and around the world as well.

While some of the storytelling gets bogged down by trying to lay everything out, it is still relevant, focusing on the United States’ extreme neglect to protect its citizens, namely its children. Do check it out if you’re concerned about the climate crisis! And we all should be.

Follow Allison McCulloch on Twitter.

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