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USA: Chris Paine back with ‘Revenge of Electric Car’

Characters drive the drama and the electric cars in Chris Paine’s latest

Filmmaker Chris Paine knew he had a tough act to follow, given the finale of his first movie, “Who Killed the Electric Car?”

“We figured it was unlikely we’d end up with a scene where a Detroit automobile company is secretly crushing cars in the desert,” he says.

Paine’s 2005 documentary showed how General Motors invented, sold, then destroyed the EV1 electric car that wowed owners as an eco-friendly engineering marvel.

For his follow up, “The Revenge of the Electric Car,” Paine needed a fresh tack. “If I’d wanted to make a movie about the reasons that electric cars should be here, it would be 12 hours long to do it right,” he says. “I didn’t want to do another issue movie. I wanted to make a film that was driven purely by characters.”

Paine began work in 2007 by filming the launch of electric car company Tesla in Palo Alto. He would eventually edit 900 hours worth of footage into a taut 90-minute drama focused on the race to bring battery-powered automobiles to market.

The capitalist thriller stars Rocket Man (Tesla millionaire Elon Musk), the Outsider (Los Angeles electric car builder Greg Abbott), the Warrior (Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn) and Mr. Detroit (General Motors exec Bob Lutz).

Early on, these entrepreneurs practically glow with optimism. Then the recession hits. PayPal co-founder Musk, funding the company from his personal fortune, nearly runs out of money when investors fail to materialize. GM goes bankrupt. Abbott’s uninsured warehouse burns down. The replacement site he purchases turns out to be a toxic hazard. He and his wife begin living in a bus.

Paine says, “To do anything that’s innovate takes incredible perseverance against huge obstacles. I believe the people who are worth paying attention to in this society are the ones who are willing to go into the burned-out ruins of their projects, find hope in there and start again.”

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