It’s a small world and we see it in Anote’s Ark, which is Matthieu Rytz first feature climate change documentary. He shows Kiribati, which is the movie’s main subject, but he also shows melting ice caps thundering down the ocean. It’s as if one environmental phenomenon connects itself to another.
This is a raw movie. Rytz shows footage of Kiribatians fleeing their homes as the oceans flood into their homes. At first, I asked for a film like this. I wanted to see people who feel the direct effects of climate change. That’s better than seeing intellectuals prognosticating from the sidelines.
This is when Anote’s Ark takes a turn. It follows two subjects who are both trying to get out of a sinking group of islands. There’s then President Anote Tong, looking for climate change solutions. There’s also Sermery, who lucked out into getting a worker’s visa in New Zealand.
The documentary also spends some time with Japanese engineers who are thinking of how to keep Kiribati above water. I don’t know why these scientists get screen time, as good their intentions may be. And that’s because their solutions are way too outlandish and way too expensive for Kiribati.
The movie somehow doesn’t connect its three subjects properly. This could have been a portrait of a leader. I’ve seen other reviewers say that at least two of them warrant their own full length documentaries. They instead end up as segments for one too short to do all three justice.
Sermery’s plight as a migrant worker is compelling. She’s the first of many who’ll make tough choices. Her connection to climate change, however, is tenuous. There’s even a scene when she and Anote are in the same room. But the film doesn’t even have that money shot of them meeting.
Anote’s Ark is playing twice at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. The dates for those screenings are May 2 at 10:15 AM and May 4 at 1 PM.