What might the film industry's role be in response to the climate emergency? Do we really have the power to impact on our ecosystem? These questions that arise are made all the more pressing in light of the global situation, and are tackled as part of the Festival de Cannes. This 74th edition's ephemeral but nonetheless comprehensive selection of films on the subject of the environment offers up a captivating window onto the solutions available to each and every one of us as spectators and enablers of change. One fiction film and six documentaries, each as hard-hitting as the last, serving up a plethora of different approaches.
Catastrophe comes calling
One technique involves pointing a finger, shining a light on one aspect of the world in all its raw and uncomfortable reality. This is the angle that Zhao Liang chooses to embrace with his ambitious I'm So Sorry on the dangers of nuclear power, as does Rahul Jain's Invisible Demons and its look at the terrifying impact of fine particles in India. Sobering observations that force us to question the status quo.
Author, poet, eco-warrior and director Cyril Dion takes a polar opposite approach.
Six years after the successful Tomorrow (Demain), Animal seeks to restore hope by encouraging us to reflect on our relationship with the living world.
The documentaries by Flore Vasseur and Cyril Dion give young people a platform on which to speak out. Animal sounds the alarm with respect to the collapse of biodiversity, and follows teenagers Bella and Vipulan as they travel the world on a mission to find meaning and tangible solutions. In Bigger Than Us, Flore Vasseur (Meeting Snowden, 2017) shows us the young people who are creating change, standing up and being counted across the world.
Shining a light on local realities
With her documentary Marcher sur l’eau (Above Water), Aïssa Maïga tells the tale of a Nigerian village suffering from the effects of global warming: their struggle to access water, the key to their survival. The villagers have not helped create global warming. Yet they are nevertheless the frontline victims.
Louis Garrel's La Croisade (The Crusade) was co-written with Jean-Claude Carrière, and brings us a funny fictional satire inspired by generational conflict surrounding the climate emergency, painting a portrait of a couple left shellshocked when they discover their son has sold off the family heirlooms to fund a secret mission to save the planet.
An ode to the world
In La Panthère des neiges (The Velvet Queen), Marie Amiguet and Vincent Munier treat us to a poetic documentary that illustrates the beauty of our world, as Marie Amiguet's lens trails Sylvain Tesson and Vincent Munier on their journey up to the mountain-top plateaux of Tibet, following in the tracks of the elusive snow leopard.
As part of the high-profile Festival de Cannes, some of these films' filmmakers took part in a press conference centred on the theme of climate change, an event that provided a platform for passionate perspectives and incisive debates, bringing together both directors and Bella Lack, Vipulan Puvaneswaran, and Melati Wusen, the young activists who star in the films by Flore Vasseur and Cyril Dion.