Three people on a unique Pacific Island face the devastating effects of climate change. As an enormous flood threatens to engulf their paradise, who will decide to flee and leave their culture behind forever? And who will stay, hoping only that God will save them from the ever-rising sea? This documentary is an epic, universal portrait of the very real threat rising sea levels present for our planet and the future of humanity.Written by
Directed by Briar March, There Once Was An Island: Te Henua E Nnoho is a documentary about a Polynesian community living on the Island of Takuu in the South Western Pacific and the effect that climate change is having on their Island.
400 people live on the tiny Island of Takuu, they're an intelligent community which hold their traditions and culture close to their heart but live in fear that they may have to all move to Bougainville, Papa New Guinea due to the rise in sea levels and farming problems they're having.
The film focuses on the lives of three members of the community in particular Teloo, Endar and Satty and how the environmental problems are affecting their lives. Due to sea levels rising, crops on the Island can't grow properly forcing the Island to often ask for food from Bougainville but the boat which visits the Island only comes a few times a year so the Island has to be very much self-sufficient. The town have a meeting to decide what their plan of action is, some people believe that God made the Island so he will know that the water level is rising and therefore help them in someway but most people agree that they need scientists to visit the Island and study it before they can know how to save it or if they need to move elsewhere. Oceanographer John Hunter and Geomorpholgist Scott Smithers travel to the Island and do tests, teach the farmers how to protect their crops and confirm the communities fears that the Island could soon be underwater if they don't create stronger sea walls and move the houses onto higher parts of the land. During their visit massive waves hit the Island causing a dangerous damaging flood which destroys many wooden buildings, crops and all of their school books. Days after the flood the islanders still can't fish or farm crops as it's too dangerous and the only ship that can visit the Island from Bourgainville is not sailing due to the crew being on strike. The community hardly have anything to eat and this event shocks them into considering maybe moving to Bourgainville is a possibility as when things get worse on the Island there won't be much help available to them. The people talk of how hard it would be moving though as for once they'll have to work for money to buy food rather than grow it or fish for it themselves which will be a big culture shock and they don't want future generations to forget their culture and past.
The Cinematography in the film captures well the beauty of the island and it's people's lives. Beautiful sandy beaches, palm trees and forest cover the Island and some of the shots are just spectacular. The film is quite slow paced but this works due to the islands relaxed way of living. The only minor flaw I had with the film was that there was a lot of chunks of information to read instead of their being a voice-over which I think would've resulted in the film flowing better, but as I said this isn't a big problem.
Overall I really enjoyed the documentary, it was very interesting, all people were very likable and it's shocked me into thinking more about climate change. Takuu is slowly being destroyed due to the of the rest of the world, the Islanders have played no part in this happening and it causes the viewer to sympathise with them and want to cut down their carbon footprint seeing innocent people's lives being ruined in this way. I believe the film should be shown on a popular TV channel where many people can view it, I think it could change the way a lot of people think about climate change.
I saw the film at a Press Preview as part of Raindance Film Festival on 21st September.
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