Global warming, a threat which can easily destroy our children and future generations’ lives: how many times have we heard that, while imagining apocalyptic scenarios, far away in space and time? Instead, there are places in the world where apocalypse is here and now, where tomorrow children living in our imaginary actually are today boys and girls.
In 2013, typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines shores, destroying cities and villages. 6000 people were killed and millions homeless. Such huge climate disasters only happen once or twice in a century. But today global warming might increase that rate. The result is fatal risks, that some Filipinos are committing to face daily.
Like Marinel, 16 years old, who lived the tragedy in first person and has decided to raise awareness on climate threats for the new generation to come. In the documentary film by Christoph Schwaiger “La Jeune Fille Et Les Typhons”, the girl leads the audience across her devastated island, meeting those who work to protect the archipelago.
“It seemed to us – Nathalie Engelhardt-Schwaiger (author of the film) and I- that the story of Marinel was very strong because it humanized a problem that for most of us is still very abstract” the director, whom we asked why he decided to make this movie, told us. “We think about climate issues as problems that we will have to face in decades, but we wanted to show that millions of people already have to deal with these problems every single day of their lives. Marinel’s story seemed very strongly symbolic, also because she is a teenager. The other reasons was that we wanted to tell a story of hope, Marinel is facing the problem and looking for answers and solutions.”
Yes, because these people are not simply described as victims, but rather as survivors who can make the difference with their stories and actions. “We are trying to move the lines with our films” Christoph continues. “Films about environment used to be very negative and alarming, we believe that you can trigger positive reactions in the public about these vital problems for humanity. If a young, poor and isolated girl like Marinel can do something about her condition and be heard in Paris at the COP21, than we all can do something at our scale!”
The director awarded at CinemAmbiente 2016. Photo credit: Paolo Tangari
The documentary was awarded at CinemAmbiente 2016, member of Green Film Network, in the “One Hour” category with the following motivation: “For its unusual protagonist, a girl who, as a victim of climate change, takes up the quest to bring hope for her people. A film that will inspire adult and young audiences”. How can it do that? Thanks to a linear and effective style.
The director explains: “Again, the main idea was to tell a human story about an abstract concept. So we chose a simple form of filming, very close to our subjects and mostly on eye level. It was important for us that the form did not overshine the message. We chose to not document directly the dramatic events of the super Typhoon, but to focus on the aftermath and the solutions for the future.The pictures of Haiyan are treated as they where memories. That is why the images of the destruction are in form of returning flashbacks or still photographies (from famous photographer Hartmut Schwarzbach). The storytelling is based on the dialogue of the actress Marion Cotillard (being a symbol for environmental activism in the western world) and Marinel our main character. They write to each other for over a year and their dialogue will lead to Marinel being invited to speak at the COP21 in Paris”.
The vision of the documentary film is suggested in order to listen to the message this incredible girl was able to give in front of a the numerous audience at the conference: it is worth it, in order to dissolve any residual doubts about the real, concrete and tangible threat that climate change represents. And make us all decide to react once for all.