[DCEFF] Climate Connections Evidence & Advocacy Shorts Block Reviews

Sydney Bollinger reviews the five short films in DCEFF's Climate Connections Shorts I: Evidence and Advocacy, including Generation on Fire and Arctic Summer.

[DCEFF] Climate Connections Evidence & Advocacy Shorts Block Reviews

by Sydney Bollinger

Climate change isn’t a problem for the future. It’s already affecting communities, ecosystems, and our fragile futures on this planet. The five films in the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital’s (DCEFF's) shorts block Climate Connections Shorts I: Evidence & Advocacy dig into the need for climate action while reflecting on the consequences of global warming we can already see.

Generation on Fire (2021)

Young climate activist wearing a Green New Deal shirt stands on a walking path carrying a banner. A young man stands behing her holding a sign.
Climate Activist Chante Davis (center) is one of the main subjects of the documentary.

Directors: Nate Birnbaum and Sam Eilertsen

When you’re spending time with activists who are dedicating their lives to fighting the climate crisis…there is something we can learn from their dedication to this practice of activism.
– Nate Birnbaum

Generation on Fire follows two groups of Sunrise Movement activists as they walk hundreds of miles to demand the creation of a Civilian Climate Corp. The film captured the determined advocacy of youth activists, showcasing their resolve in the face of an insurmountable issue that will disproportionately affect their generation.

The short is a great introduction to Sunrise Movement, while also shedding light on the all-encompassing activism of teenagers and young adults. They are the true leaders of the climate movement, unafraid to confront greedy, posturing politicians (on both sides of America’s political spectrum) and stoic in the face of arrest.

Humanity Has Not Yet Failed (2021)

A illustrated group of diverse activists hold strike signs and a banner reading "Humanity Has Not Yet Failed"

Directors: Norma V. Toraya, Jared P. Scott

Youth activist Greta Thunberg has been showered with praise. The 19-year-old Swedish activist has spoken in front of the United Nations and strikes for her future every Friday.

Humanity Has Not Yet Failed uses the stunning animation of Norma V. Toraya to tell a story with Thunberg’s words. During the film’s eight minute runtime, it exposes business as usual as a scam and how “congratulations” to youth activists means nothing — activists don’t need thanks, they need action. Now.

The film is short and sweet, but also deeply affecting. Humanity Has Not Yet Failed offers a detailed look at climate activism’s complexities and its immediate needs.

Our Future Our Fight, Episode 1 (2021)

Climate activist Jonah Gottlieb looks over a valley on fire in California.
Jonah Gottlieb, climate activist, focuses on wildfires and their impact. 

Director: Beth Murphy

Beth Murphy’s docuseries Our Future Our Fight features the work of a youth activist and partners them with a climate scientist, Indigenous leader, or other environmental professional to dig into a specific climate issue.

DCEFF attendees can watch the first episode of the series, which features Jonah Gottlieb and his work regarding wildfires in his home of California. Throughout the episode, Gottlieb discusses wildfires' relation to climate change; fire management strategies, including Indigenous cultural and prescribed burn practices; and the impact of wildfires across the planet.

This format of the show — educational and serious while maintaining a sense of fun — makes it perfect for children, teens, and families. If the first episode is any indication, Our Future Our Fight will be necessary programming to bring to light the work of youth activists and how we can all get involved in climate action.

Murphy has stated that the docuseries just received funding for its second episode.

Arctic Summer (2020)

A young boy stands on top of an old, decaying boat in a field between a barn and residential homes.

Directors: Kyle Rosenbluth, Daniel Fradin

Arctic Summer’s meditative approach feels disarming in the midst of films heavily focused on the action of climate activism. In Kyle Rosenbluth and Daniel Fradin’s film about Tuktoyaktuk, an Indigenous community on the Arctic Ocean, we see the effects of climate change without mentioning the cause.

The footage — daily life of the community’s youth interspersed with interviews from adults — tells a story in the background. The community’s homes are sinking into the Arctic Ocean and need to be relocated and Tuktoyaktuk elders lament the youth’s lack of cultural connection. The stunning visuals draw you into the story of a community feeling the worsening impacts of human-caused climate change.

With a slower pace, Arctic Summer pulls viewers in and lets them see how the lives of these youth and young adults are shaped by climate change.

After Ice (2021)

Woman wearing a blue puffer coat sits in a orange boat looking off camera at the glaciers that surround her.
Glaciologist and National Geographic Explorer M Jackson, PhD, narrates After Ice

Director: Kieran Baxter, PhD

Glacial ice is melting — it’s not new information. Kieran Baxter’s After Ice, with script and narration by glaciologist and National Geographic Explorer M Jackson, PhD, looks at the past and present of Iceland’s glaciers. Using rendered models of what glacial ice looked like years ago, this short film offers an unparalleled look at and understanding of the gravity of melting glaciers.

The smooth comparisons and transitions between glaciers then and now change how we perceive Earth’s changing climate, grounding viewers in the physicality of the climate crisis.

Each of these shorts provides intimate insight into the climate crisis, its effects, and how humanity can move forward.

This shorts block is a free offering from DCEFF and the perfect way to get up-to-date on current climate actions and how to get involved in the climate movement.

DCEFF30: Watch More Environmental Films
The 30th Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital (DCEFF30) begins Thursday, March 17, 2022. Sydney Bollinger previews the festival and the importance of environmental filmmaking.