Today we sent a copy of the footage from Majuro (RMI) to our production company “Studio Kalliope” in Potsdam (Germany). The little package in the video below has it all. It contains 8 hard disks, each with 5 TB of video material and audio recordings, therefore 40 TB of data and an HD proxy on two additional hard disks. If one were to watch all video recordings without interruption one after the other, one would need more than two weeks to see it all, we have calculated. The package is now on its way to Hawaii. From there it reaches a postal distribution center in the US and then it flies across the Atlantic to a cool european fall, where a DHL messenger will one gray autumn morning hand it over to Maria Kling at the garden fence. Good trip, small package! Do not get lost.
On the 2nd of December we start our journey home. We will use the remaining time for the rough cut, for the completion of some videos for this blog and of course for the preparation of our departure. We leave a large part of our equipment in the country. We donate it to the groups with whom we performed the film workshops, so that they can continue to work with the medium of film after we have left.
A short month remains for us to say farewell to this peaceful, friendly and always summer-warm world. It’s hard for us to say goodbye. Especially the people we met thru our joint work that we came so close to, they will be missed. We will probably have to come back soon. What else?
September 8th is a global day to rise for climate action. Activities and demonstrations are planned in more than 70 countries to end the era of fossel fuels and building 100% renewable energy for all. In Germany alone, more than 25 events are planned.
Also here on the Marshall Islands and other Pacific Islands, they are preparing for the 8th of September. Under the slogan #RiseForClimate and #RiseForPacificPawa (“Pawa” – Pidgin English for “Power”), the many small island states unite to support each other, letting the world know: we are not drowning, we are fighting. They fight for the protection of the climate, for the survival of their islands and for their cultural identity. We filmed the preparatory meeting of the environmental organization Jo-Jikum, which is our local partner and part of the global climate movement 350.org. This year’s campaign symbol is Kikonang, a sort of palm leaf windmill. It stands for movement, for renewable energy such as wind and solar energy, for the arts and crafts, which has an important cultural significance here and many reminds them of their childhood, as it is a popular toy on the island states.
Last year’s symbol was a flower behind the ear #Haveyoursei, symbolizing the cultures of the Pacific. The following video from the Marshall Islands was also shown at COP23 in Bonn, Germany.
It is important to tackle the climate crisis globally. There is no industry in the Marshall Islands, and people are the least polluting people due to greenhouse gas emissions. But they are at the frontlines to be affected by the impacts of climate change. For more information visit:
In this article we want to show you two unusual perspectives on the Marshall Islands: the view from the air and the view under the surface of the water.
During the Second World War, the Marshall Islands, due to their geographical location in the Pacific, were the scene of numerous armed conflicts between the USA and Japan. Even today the traces of it are visible. On and around the various atolls you can find the remains of bunkers and control centers, sunken shipwrecks and crashed planes. The upper photo shows the ruins of Japanese tankers on the island of Tarawa in Maloelap Atoll. In the video you see an American aircraft wreck (probably a small bomber) lying on the bottom of the Majuro lagoon. It has become an artificial reef for a variety of living beeings. Irony of time.
We stay around the lagoon of Majuro and take a look at the island Kolol En. It is currently low tide. But at the various high flood levels, the brownish, unvegetated areas of the atoll are again or again partially or completely in shallow water. The green, overgrown parts rise only slightly higher than the brownish ones.
You can easily imagine what happens here when the sea level rises – even only slightly.
Kolol En is sparsely populated and a popular destination of the Marshallese People. We have selected this video for you because buildings and protective structures can not obstruct your view of the essentials here. There is green. There is brown. Now is low tide. Soon comes flood. You just have to look.
Opposite the small island of Kolol En, on the other side of the lagoon lies – no taller than the green parts of Kolol En – the large Majuro City, a modern world with many people, homes, kindergartens, schools, two universities, an international airport , Radio stations, office buildings, shopping malls, factories – all this has been protected by “seawalls” that are raised from time to time.
The entire state territory of the Republic of the Marshall Islands consists of shallow coral atolls. There is not a single mountain island. No room for retreat.
With our workshops, we always make small trips. The voyage told below in the video leads us to the island of Kolol En. We accompanied Jina David, an environmental activist and Councelmen. Together with a group of young people, Jina tested the water quality in the island’s rain reservoirs and at the same time taught the young people how to provide clean water in the future. Jina’s project was made possible by Jo-Jikum and KIO.
For a week, our team member Christina Schulze accompanied a research team led by the Marshallese scientist Mark Stege in their work on the Maloelap Atoll. From this week she brought you a little movie titled “Stewards of the Environment”, which already gives you some of the narrative style and moods of our future movie.
And 13,070 kilometers away from the Maloelap Atoll, the Potsdam (Germany) based musician Marc Schicker composed the music for her video while watching it. Have fun watching and listening.
We went to Rita. From here you can not drive on. Majuros main road ends here. From this point you can look over to the next islands of the atoll, which are arranged around the lagoon. Our workshop participants Hanson and Ronny chose the location for their interview. Both grew up here in Rita, but now live in the town-center of Majuro.
We set up the tripod, set up the big Canon and check the sound. Ok, are you ready? “Audio picks up.” “Camera is running.” Let’s go.
The third workshop week has started. We have a total of 46 participants in 6 different workshops over the week and things are developing fast.
At the beginning of every workshop a theoretical input is given on the fields of technology, audio, camera work, image detail, interview and other aspects in documentary film. Then it goes directly into the practice, we go out, looking for places for interviews, the workshop participants interview and film each other first. Like detectives, we embark on a search for true stories. Together, we consider who is eligible as an interview partner (outside of our circle) for the film about the Marshall Islands. The participants are beginning to make their own decisions with more and more confidence and they notice how much they already know about the handling of the equipment, but above all about their own history and culture, which they continuously communicate to us. In addition to the voices of personalities from politics and society, education and science, we are particularly interested in hearing and recording the voices of the so-called “normal people”.
But today we are in Rita. Hanson interviews Ronny, who speaks partially in the interview rather in Marshallese. We actually understand some chunks, because some words are taken from English. Words like “plastic” and “Climate Change”. But it is not much what we can make out.
Interview of Ronny and Hanson in Rita.
Nevertheless, it is important to us that the English language is not a barrier. We keep saying that everyone is free to speak English or Marshallese. It is important that the interviewees feel comfortable if they want to tell us something. Anyway, we plan to work with translators on the material together and the participants speak Marshallese, which also helps.
We do not know everything what Ronny had to report that day in Rita. But we saw his facial expressions and gestures as he spoke Marshallese. They were insistent. That’s the way people talk, who have something to tell. We are curious to find out soon what it was.
Map of Majuro. The paved road leads from “Laura” to “Rita” and of course back. The names come from the time of the US-American stationing, the soldiers namend the two settlements after the actresses “Rita Hayworth” and “Lauren Bacall”.
We have 13 participants from Laura Highschool in our regular Monday workshop here.
April, 18th: We have been feverishly looking forward to this day, it is the first major information event to enlist participants for our participative film project. We had been working a lot for publicity for this meeting in advance. We placed ads on Facebook and sent a bulk SMS to all cell phone owners on the island. The Marshall Islands Journal wrote about us and Mark was a guest on a live broadcast on the radio. The city was full of our flyers and there was quite a lot of word of mouth recommendation. We are already known all over the place on the main island Majuro (see also our last blog entry).
But how many people would really come to our meeting? We could hardly say and hoped for the best.
We had a room at the College of the Marshall Islands (CMI) from 10 to 12 o’clock. The first participants arrived already before 10 o’clock and we greeted them joyfully. The night before there had been a long blackout and it was already raining all morning, we would probably start later. We got drinks and small snacks to shorten the waiting time.
The room filled slowly and we could start. We opened the meeting together with Jina David as a representative of our partner organization Jo-Jikum, who are active in the field of education and climate change. We are very grateful to Jina David because he supported us very much from day one and became a friend. We are happy to work with him and Jo-Jikum.
We were not disappointed. There were a total of 26 interested people, including official representatives of the college and students, members of various NGOs, as well as individuals who are interested in film production. We introduced our approach of participatory film making, explaining what the workshops will be like: about shooting, interviewing and cutting. As an example of such a project we showed film excerpts from our first participatory documentary film Sachamanta. There was a lot of interest and after the presentation almost everyone joined in for the upcoming workshops. Afterwards, we received further messages via email and Facebook from people who told us their specific time slots in order to be able to participate in the workshops. They also will come on board. We are looking forward to working with the groups in the respective workshops, to the stories and the common learning. In the end, it will be the inhabitants of the Marshall Islands who will help shape and realize this documentary.
Much has happened since our last entry.
On the 2nd of April we got our visas for a whole year. Yippiiii !!!
From this moment we could really start. There is a lot going on right now. Today we want to tell you briefly about the biggest upcoming event, on which we are currently working at full speed.
Together with Jo-Jikum*, we are organizing the first public meeting for the 18th of April, to which we have invited all parties interested in the workshops. We informed the whole region via Facebook. We also sent out mass texting via the national telephone company NTA and distributed flyers throughout Majuro. There was also an article in the weekly newspaper about our project.
Yesterday Mark gave an interview in one of the three local radio stations. The experience was overwhelming again. In keeping with local radio stations in Latin America, the audience sent messages via mobile phone and Facebook or called directly to find out more.
Of course we are looking forward to the meeting. Until then, we can only guess how many people will come and how many will actually participate. In the next weeks the first workshops will start. The feedback we have gathered so far shows us a keen interest in the project and a great interest in taking part to shape it.
In any case, we are already known all over the place.
We send solidarity greetings from the other side of the globe.
*Jo-Jikum is a local NGO dedicated to empowering Marshall Islands young people to find solutions to environmental issues in their home islands, but see for yourself: http://jojikum.org
Nuclear bombs were the first serious threat to the existence of the Marshall Islands. 67 (in words: sixty seven!) nuclear fusion and nuclear fission bombs the US detonated over parts of ‘their’ former UN trust territory. Quite a few here say the new bomb, which threatens the Marshall Islands now will hardly be less destructive. They are talking about climate change. It will not contaminate the land. It will devour it.
It is just before eight o clock in the morning and we are on our way to our first shooting on the Marshall Islands. We are on the Majuro Atoll. As soon as we sit in the taxi, a heavy tropical rain sets in. The taxi sign lies in the trunk, Mark is driving. The day before, we asked a cab driver to pick us up for our shooting the next morning. His reaction was unexpected. He suggested that we just rent the taxi for a day, but without him. He would sleep and we could drive as long as we wanted. A good deal for both. Or maybe not. Mark is tired, he curses. ‘What kind of a car is that?’ The hand brake is stuck. The automatic gear-shift lever too. At least, the air conditioning is working. So now we have a car. The warm rain is getting stronger and turns the only main road that leads from one end of Majuro Island to the other in a raging river. We wonder if the rains have always been so heavy. At Kiribati we were told that the rain that is now missing there falls even stronger elsewhere.
To the left and right we pass houses, and directly beyond we see the churned-up ocean on one side and the quieter azure-gray lagoon on the other.
We are looking for the place where people will gather for the peace march on the anniversary of the “Castle Bravo” explosion. It was the biggest bomb ever to be detonated, a fusion bomb that observers said had made them feel as if the mouth to hell had opened. With unfathomable 15 million tons of TNT it exploded on March 1, 1954 at Bikini Atoll. The force of the explosion and the radioactive radiation hit the inhabitants of the surrounding islands violently. People died, became ill and had to leave their home islands forever.
March 1 of each year, they commemorate the victims of US atomic bomb tests conducted between 1946 and 1958 in the Marshall Islands.
No one likes to be on the road in this storm. Vague directions we had got the previous day lead to wild speculations and only we have completely crossed the whole place for the third time, we discover a school class, which is just on its way to the commemoration. We follow the school bus. As we arrive there are already several school classes and a band with brass and drums waiting. Also activists and survivors of the nuclear tests and their relatives are there. The rain has decreased a bit. It starts. We position ourselves with camera, sound recording device and umbrella on the median strip of the street and film the march as it passes us.
The march ends in front of the parliament building in ‘town, town’, as the city center is called here. Most of the attendees of the ceremony are children, accompanied by a few teachers. Actually, today is a holiday, off school. But it’s like everywhere on the blue planet. Going for a swim in the afternoon has its price: the participation in the day of remembrance. A pedestal with a lectern and space for the ‘important’ guests has been prepared. The schoolchildren find space in adjacent tents. The Mayoress of Majuro, the US Ambassador, a representative of the NGO “Nuclear Free Movement”, a representative of the four affected atolls and the President of the Marshall Islands Hilda Heine give speeches. In between, a ukulele band plays traditional music.
Again and again our big camera fails. Since the rain clouds have become thinner and an equatorial sun heats the equipment through the remaining gray clouds, the Canon quickly reaches the end of the line. We will have to buy an icebox to cool the camera. But we do not have it yet. Mark can only shoot about four minutes and twenty seconds at a time before the emergency shutdown takes effect. He concentrates on the important things, keeps cursing but still goes on filming as soon as the camera works again. Apart from the important speakers sits a sad woman who has been holding up a photo for a long time. Her arms are already trembling. But she doesn’t give way. It is important that all people see the picture. Also our camera. Mark nods to the woman and forms the words with his “May I?” He whispers and she nods. The photo shows Lemeyo Abon.
Lemeyo Abon was one of the last survivors of the nuclear bomb tests, she died shortly before the ceremony on February 19 at the age of 77 years. As a child, she witnessed the explosion of Castle Bravo on Rongelap Island, just 200 km from Bikini Atoll.
‘When I was 13 years old, the Bravo hydrogen bomb exploded on the next island. It was early morning when we were preparing for breakfast outside the house. All of a sudden, dazzling light glared around the area and the sky became red very quickly. We heard the very loud sound, “BOOM!”, and the ground began to shake violently. The roof was blown away and a number of coconut trees had fallen down. Indeed I was scared.’ recalls Lemeyo in Hanyuda Yuki’s book ‘Longing for My Home Island.’ The book tells the story of her life, which symbolizes the life of a whole generation. She got very sick herself from the nuclear radiation, experienced the relocation to Kwajalein and the failed return to Rongelap, because contrary to the US forecasts, the islands are contaminated until today and thus actually uninhabitable. Actually, because despite the ongoing radioactivity some people live there again. Lemeyo spoke to international media, traveled to UN meetings to talk about the effects of nuclear testing. She accuses the US of using the islanders as guinea pigs to study the effect of nuclear radiation on human bodies. She has worked tirelessly to ensure that the history of the people of the Marshall Islands is not forgotten around the world. Today, on the 64th anniversary of the explosion of Castle Bravo, her funeral takes place in the family circle.
Meanwhile, the clouds have completely disappeared and the sun blasts mercilessly on the square in front of the parliament. It is hot. Very hot. Unimaginably hot, for European conditions. Somewhat impatient schoolchildren hold white balloons in their hands, and now and then one of them soars up into the sky. Too early. Released. Not paying attention. But then it is time. The children are allowed to fly their balloons. The now bright blue sky is full of white dots. The crowd dissipates. It is over.
For us the day is not over yet. We meet Alson, a Bikinian (a citizen of Bikini Atoll). What he told us was very impressive and we will tell you about it in our next post.
Only half a year ago everything was fine. We were in the midst of the preparations for our film project on Kiribati. We had a clearance from the president’s office with good prospects for a film permit and long-term visas. Just before Christmas (we were still in Germany) we received the message that our clearance was abolished. Nobody could tell us for how long. We flew anyway, wanting to check an resolve everything on the spot in Kiribati. (Link to our first blog post)
What has happened since then? Suddenly, we were on a diplomatic mission. We told each and everyone of our project and our situation. Everybody listened to us with interest and said they were very sorry; they could not understand it at all. We auditioned at all kinds of institutions, talked to senators and secretaries of state. Without success. We were in close contact with the Presidential Office and, at its suggestion, wrote a long letter in which we re-introduced our project. This has not been answered yet.
We got trapped in a net of political complications that had little to do with us. But it prevented us from realizing our participative film project in Kiribati as planned. Only nobody would tell us explicitly. We were told to wait. And wait again. And wait some more. We were waiting in the right place at the wrong time.
Our approach convinced everyone, also at government level even if it sometimes took some effort. Still, they were all very cautious. There had been too many unpleasant experiences with foreign filmmakers and journalists, who arrived with preconceived ideas in Kiribati, with stories they only wanted to illustrate with the right pictures, without any interest whatsoever in what Kiribati really is like. They came with their ready-made scripts, written within two weeks and shot just for a week or two. The most outrageous story was that of the Japanese ARD office, which wanted to film a fisherman who studied at the Marine Training Center in Tarawa and returns to his home island on a traditional small catamaran. They were just looking for the right person. Only too bad that these boats are rarely suitable for the high seas, are out of fashion in Kiribati and above all that such a fisherman was nowhere to be found.
So we were making progress. We felt the wind in our sails. We did not bring any stories in our heads, and so we told the government. In our workshops, we wanted to induce the people of Kiribati to tell their own stories of which we knew nothing and could not know until we would hear them.
It seemed like a good strategy and it was the truth.
At this stage the government seemed to look at our project almost favorable. But then something happened that made the truth a bad argument. It dissolved any pleasure the government might have had in the idea that people on Kiribati would tell themselves what was important and true to them.
A ferry sank on the way from Nonouti to Tarawa. Almost one hundred people sought shelter in the too few lifeboats and drowned or died of thirst or of the scorching heat over six agonizing days on the open ocean, long before the authorities had even an idea of the disaster.
Criticism of the government became loud. A demonstration was broken up by the police, people were quickly removed and placed under house arrest. But the social media could not be kept quiet by the government. People read and discussed the reports and speeches on the causes of the disaster on Facebook. It was about the affordable but missing position detectors on the ferries, the dilapidated state of the ferry, which nevertheless left for a 2 days crossing of the wide ocean. It was above all about the failure of the government to enforce laws on security measures that look beautiful on paper, but never were implemented in reality.
On the background of these changed circumstances our participatory approach did not fit at all anymore. The government was afraid of loud criticism from the population. A New Zealand reporter team was prevented from reporting on the ferry accident on Kiribati, they were forced to delete their data, ie interviews and photos. Again and again, the reporters were asked if they would write about climate change. The political situation is sharpening on Kiribati, the new government wants to establish their power and tries to isolate itself to the outside. Journalists have to leave, foreign film crews no longer get filming permits and/or are not allowed to enter. On the radio, the population was even called on to report tourists with movie cameras to the police. When taking pictures we were repeatedly asked who we were, what we did here and if we had a film permission. The police inquired about us with our landlord. Hidden interviews were out of the question. Because there is no secret, lonely places on the main island of South Tarawa. Also, we did not want to get our friends and acquaintances and climate change activists, who would have liked to work with us, into trouble.
We were not prepared for Kiribati’s changed political line. The aim of our project was quite different, namely not to work in secret, but to create the highest level of publicity, to invite people to participate in our workshops and to develop the ideas for the film together with them. In a climate of rising anxiety and persistent uncertainty, that was impossible.
They gave us the runaround concerning the decision on the film permission, let us wait indefinitely. Soon our tourist visas would expire. Therefore we ourselves decided to pull up stakes and leave Kiribati. We moved to the Marshall Islands. Another small island nation in the middle of the vast Southern Pacific, threatened by climate change, awaiting a similar fate as Kiribati. But there is one key difference: the government’s open management of the effects of climate change. And here, too, there is a strong social base of movements that concern themselves with climate change.
Despite these unhappy experiences in Kiribati we do not consider our 7 weeks there as wasted time, but are very grateful for the experience. We are happy about the many small and large encounters with people, which allowed us an insight into the culture and the politics of this island state. Mark captured some of those moments on his photo blog. (Kameradist Wagner) We always felt welcome to all we met and the interest in the project was great. We hope for a rethinking of the government and also for being able to return to Kiribati in the not too distant future to shoot some material there.
We would like to thank all our friends from Kiribati for their warmth, their confidence, their openness, the joking and the shared laughter. We will miss you very much! Kabuta, never stop playing the guitar and singing, even if you’re going to be an old pastor. Abe, one day you will be the president and then a very, very old cat without tail will be your guide. Kataunati, you’re sure to go to sea and see the world. Hey, and Aurora: You can do that and Abe will help you.
It is Saturday evening. Since our arrival we have met many people and despite the short time already made friends. One of them is Kabuta, a pastor to be who likes to smoke and drink a beer once in a while and continuously invites us to drink Kawa with him. And today the time has come.
In advance, we discussed in the group who stays with Maira and Christina agreed to do that, which Mark and me appreciate very much, since we did not want to miss out on such an experience, especially since the Kawa bar is right next to us, barely 200 meters from our house.
Kabuta picked us up at 7 pm. First we dined together. Then we got on the way.
The Kawa bar is a simple house. Nondescript. Or not. Only a few hanging strings of lights and flowers make it different from the other houses around. We are the first ones to arrive there. Kabuta and one of the people of the house spread out mats on the ground. Another person starts with the preparation of the drink.
We sit in a circle. A plastic bowl with a liquid that looks similar to water-milled healing clay is brought to us and placed in the middle. Also a ladle and plastic cups for everyone. I already start recording the scene with one of our small cameras and will continue to do so in the next hours.
Kabuta explains: at the very beginning of the round, “Un Toe” is called followed by tree claps. Similar as in Germany, drinking cheers are said. The kawa ritual is a tradition from Fiji. The cup is to be emptied in one go. The stuff tastes like it looks, tongue and palate get slightly numb.
The bar fills up. Several groups join in and form new circles.
Again and again we hear “Un Toe” … clap, clap, clap.
A guitar is brought forward, out of nowhere. With only 5 strings. That’s typical here. Why? We owe you the explanation, but we will find out.
One plays. Everyone is singing along, often in polyphonic harmonies. It sounds perfect and yet spontaneous.
We play and sing too.
Hard to describe. Quit an experience.
We look at each other and briefly discuss: the music for the documentary we have found here in any case. Although the Kawa music shall not be heard all the time in the movie, we certainly found the musicians to compose the future soundtrack.
Of course we give you a little sample here.
But we were not allowed to record much, and only with our camcorder, since we are (still) on vacation. 😉
It was low tide and we went out into the lagoon. We had spotted 3 children sitting like little dots on a small sandy elevation in the shallow water. We wanted to get near and see what they were doing, greet them with “Mauri” and take a few pictures. When we arrived, we saw that they were digging for shells in the mud, collecting them in their plastic bowls. In between they again and again jumped into the azure shallow water for some refreshment. The oldest of the three boys may have been 7, the youngest hardly 5 years old.
We say “Mauri”, but hardly get noticed. Only one boy gives us a broad smile. We stoop down and start digging too. Viviana and little Maira are soon successful.
The oldest and most eagerly digging boy may have thought we had earned some encouragement and gave us one of his shells which was much bigger than the ones we had found. We thanked him and silently dug on. The boys did not speak English, we did not speak I-Kiribati. Slowly the flood came in, bubbling around us. It was time to leave. Even for the boys. Christina and Claudia had already reached the shore, the water was rising. Mark was following them, carrying the Camera protected on his shoulder. I carried Maira on my arms. Also the boys started for the shore. The ground was strewn with pieces of coral and with sharp edged empty shells. We imitated the walk of the three boy, slowly feeling with the feet for a way, following the elevated sandy patches beneath the water. Soon we would reach the shore, no danger was thought of.
Suddenly the three boys started to throw themselves with impressive jumps forwards and backwards into the deep waters around us keeping their breath, pretending to drown and then emerging out of the water, giggling. The smallest was hectically struggling in the water. The oldest swam beside him and was still laughing out loud. Mark looked back calling something unintelligible and turned to come back. The third boy dived for a long time, much too long. Gunnar grapped him and got him out of the water. The boy seemed panicked but otherwise OK. I kept an eye on the other diving boy. The seconds stretched. Something had happened to time. Somehow it wasn’t right. Nothing was right anymore. I took the panicking boy from Gunnars’ arm. The water was now almost 5 feet deep. I carried the boy on one arm and Maira on the other and made as fast as possible for the little elevation. It was now covered with water, the bowls of the boys had been long washed away, while Gunnar was wading to the diving boy to get him out of the water.
I put the children down to the ground, the water just coming up to their knees. They clung to my legs. I saw that the third boy had reached the shore, obviously he could swim. But the boy that Gunnar brought lying limp in his arms was hardly breathing if at all. Foam had gathered around his mouth and nose. His eyes were empty. In our misplaced bubble out of time we shook the boy, pressed his chest and his back. Some breath came back. Then Mark arrived and took over from Gunnar, shaking the boy again and again while Gunnar was pressing his chest. More foam came out. But there was no dry space, we could neither put the boy down nor could we press his chest with enough power or try respiration. But being now three adults we could make it to the shore.
Gunnar took the boy, foam was running again out of his n ose and he started crying like someone would cry in his sleep. He was alive, just. But indeed he wanted to get to sleep and Mark, wading behind Gunnar, started to slap the boy gently in the face, crying: “Wake up, dont’ you sleep!”. And in the direction to the shore Mark was yelling: “We need help! Get us some fresh water!”
Two men from the shore came to meet us. “Don’t sleep”, they said in I-Kiribati to the little head resting on Gunnars shoulder. Almost 40 people were waiting on the shore and 3 bottles of cold drinking water. Exhausted Gunnar was kneeling in the sand, still holding the boy in his arms. The boy wouldn’t drink but Mark just sprayed the ice cold water on his head and neck. This made him gasp and finally the salt water mixed with white foam streamed out of his lungs to the relieved cheering of all people around. “Look, the boy can breath again”, Maira said to me. I clasped her tightly in my arms.
Later, back at the car, we looked to our laughable injuries on our feet. Walking to the shore we had not heeded any corals or shells anymore. The siren of the Ambulance was wailing.
What had we done? What damage had we caused? Surely, this 3 boys had been out regularly at low tide. Even if they could not swim, they knew the sea. Again and again we talk about the three in our team. We had put them in jeopardy. Because of us, they had stepped beyond their limitations and abilities. We were the mischief-maker in their world. This was an instance of the uncertainty relation: nothing can be watched without being influenced and changed and you never know if it is for better or worse.
It was our first important overall lesson. For us and in this place. We need to take much more caution and be very careful in what we do and in our meetings with the people, whom as documentary film maker we want to encounter with respect and may not to expose to danger. (Viviana Uriona)
Together with the filmmakers kameradisten we have been working on a new full feature film for cinema since the beginning of 2017: we call it the Kiribati project. It will be (again) a participatory film. We gave it the working title: “The do not give way to the waves.”
The film will be shot and edited together with the people of the islands of the Republic of Kiribati. Kiribati is located in the central Pacific. Due to the melting of the poles, the rising sea level threatens to flood the islands in historical short time to come. But the future of the republic is still unwritten. Not a few believe that it will inevitably sink. Others think the islands can be saved. For our film crew, Kiribati is also a symbol, a warning to the world. If we do not finally learn to treat our planet with respect, it will put us in front of unimaginable difficulties everywhere. The flood in one place is the drought in another place.