Future generations will ask us this question: What were we doing while the planet burned? The Hottest August attempts to answer the question during one sweltering month in New York in 2017.
A portrait of collective anxiety, the film seeks out New Yorkers close to the flame. Headlines toggle between wildfires on one coast and hurricanes on the other, while the camera cruises the five boroughs and records conversations about skyrocketing rents and rates of homelessness; mass shootings and marching white supremacists; economic crisis, political corruption, crumbling infrastructure, and Trump.
A stealthy protagonist, the heat in The Hottest August raises the specter of climate change while going unmentioned. The city’s people yearn for security in an increasingly uncertain world and see threats arising from everywhere other than a warming planet.