Idle Threat Makes World Premiere At Woodstock Film Festival Oct. 10-14
One Man’s Crusade Against Idling Motorists
George Pakenham’s pioneering documentary Idle Threat will have its World Premiere at the celebrated Woodstock Film Festival in upstate New York (October 10-14).
The statistics are numbing in this idle threat. Idling engines consume more than 10 billion gallons of gasoline a year, spewing high levels of toxic carbon emissions. New York City is a prime offender, a microcosm of a worldwide epidemic. In New York alone there are more than one million exhaust emitting automobiles, 13,000 taxis and 6,000 buses. It’s literally enough to make one sick—eight million New Yorkers, one million of them wheezing asthmatics, struggling to breathe.
A Wall Street banker has decided to do something about it. Crusading George Pakenham, dubbed the “Verdant Vigilante,” has engaged in a five-year campaign, documented in the New Yorker, newspapers around the world and in television reports, to get motorists to turn off idling engines. In New York, it’s illegal to idle a car or truck engine for more than three minutes, and millions are ignoring it daily.
Not Pakenham. In close to 3,000 encounters with idling New York motorists detailed on a spreadsheet, this white shirt-and-tie vigilante has succeeded in getting 80 percent of them to shut off their engines. The fines for these infractions, if enforced, would have totalled more than $350,000 in revenues to the City of New York. Universal enforcement of the law would net the city close to $4 million in revenues, and in the process, curb a critical health issue.
It’s no surprise that Pakenham has been yelled out, cursed out and one angry motorist once directed him to wrap his lips around a tailpipe.
Still he perseveres, and New York is the better for it.
Pakenham’s efforts are chronicled in Idle Threat, making its world premiere October 10-14 at the Woodstock Film Festival. The film, featuring New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, city council members, angry New Yorkers, and Car Talk stars Click and Clack (Tom and Ray Magliozzi) in their documentary debut.
The film, directed by Pakenham, is a documentary of one man’s resilient struggle with motorists, politicians, and the New York City Police Department to enforce a 38-year-old anti-engine idling law to reduce air pollution and combat global warming. It’s a David and Goliath epic with a denouement that wins one for the environment—an eco “Super-Size Me.”
“Pakenham is unusually shy and well mannered for a curmudgeon,” writes Ben McGrath of the New Yorker. Somewhat of a rumbled Columbo, Pakenham engages offending motorists with the salutation, “I hate to bother you, but…”
George Pakenham would make a terrific interview. He is a terrific talker, as you can see by the film, and has lots to say. In addition to the film Idle Threat, George has penned a companion children’s book – Big Nose Big City about Cyrano the Bloodhound and his other four-legged friends on the streets of NYC – both as in a colored version and as a coloring book.
George worked in advertising in NYC for 8 years, and produced TV on the side. Over the years he produced one documentary film and three short films. Currently working for a major international bank, he finances international mortgages as well as financing for wind and solar farms. As a volunteer within the bank, he is developing charitable mortgages for low-income Haitians to buy their first homes.
He hates waste and foul air, which compelled him to begin the idle free campaign in NYC in 2006.
Visit the film’s website to view a film preview at: www.idlethreatmovie.com
And don’t forget to turn off those engines.
Idle Threat At A Glance
Idling car and truck engines are causing severe health hazards worldwide, contributing to global warming and consuming billions of gallons of wasted fuel. Wall Street banker and “Verdant Vigilante” George Pakenham is working The Big Apple to change all that, crusading for enforcement of a 38-year-old anti-idling law on the books, but not enforced. Consider the core of the problem:
- Idling engines worldwide consume more than 10 billion gallons of gasoline a year, spewing high levels of toxic carbon emissions.
- In New York City, a microcosm of a worldwide epidemic, there are more than one million exhaust emitting automobiles, 13,000 taxis and 6,000 buses.
- The pollution is enough to make eight millions New Yorkers sick, one million of them asthmatics, struggling to breathe.
- Under law in New York, it’s illegal for motorists to idle engines for more than three minutes.
- In the last five years, Pakenham, working the streets of Manhattan, has confronted 3,000 idling motorists, succeeding in getting 80 percent of them to shut off their engines.
- Fines for these infractions, if enforced, would have totalled more than $350,000 in revenues to the City of New York.
- Universal enforcement of the law would net the city close to $4 million in revenues, and in the process, curb a critical health issue.
- A turn of key saves lives, the environment and billions of gallons of wasted fuel.