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New Michael Moore-backed doc tackles alternative energy

FILE - This May 25, 2019 file photo shows Michael Moore at the awards ceremony of the 72nd international film festival, Cannes, southern France. In "Planet of the Humans," which premiered Wednesday, July 31, at the Traverse City Film Festival, he and director Jeff Gibbs pull the curtain back on the false promises of alternative energy, from electric cars to windmills and biomass, and expose why they're not working. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — What if alternative energy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? That’s the provocative question explored in the documentary “Planet of the Humans,” which is backed and promoted by filmmaker Michael Moore, a Michigan native, and directed by one of his longtime collaborators. It premiered last week at his Traverse City Film Festival.

The film, which does not yet have distribution, is a low-budget but piercing examination of what the filmmakers say are the false promises of the environmental movement and why we’re still “addicted” to fossil fuels. Director Jeff Gibbs takes on electric cars, solar panels, windmills, biomass, biofuel, leading environmentalist groups like the Sierra Club, and even figures from Al Gore and Van Jones, who served as Barack Obama’s special adviser for green jobs, to 350.org leader Bill McKibben, a leading environmentalist and advocate for grassroots climate change movements.

Gibbs, who produced Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 9/11,” didn’t set out to take on the environmental movement. He said he wanted to know why things weren’t getting better. But when he started pulling on the thread, he and Moore said they were shocked to find how inextricably entangled alternative energy is with coal and natural gas, since they say everything from wind turbines to electric car charging stations are tethered to the grid, and even how two of the Koch brothers — Charles and David — are tied to solar panel production through their glass production business.

“It turned out the wakeup call was about our own side,” Gibbs said in a phone interview. “It was kind of crushing to discover that the things I believed in weren’t real, first of all, and then to discover not only are the solar panels and wind turbines not going to save us … but (also) that there is this whole dark side of the corporate money … It dawned on me that these technologies were just another profit center.”