As intended a cinema film has now emerged from our participatory project “withstanding the waves” about the impacts of climate change in the Pacific. We’re still working on some color corrections and some changes to the animated credits. But in principle we are through.
After we had developed the basic dramaturgy of the film with our participants on Majuro, it took us another year before the film was finished. Above all, this was due to the incredible amount of material that we brought back to Germany from the many workshops on the Marshall Islands. Almost a year of participatory filming gave us around 420 hours of material that we viewed and categorized from January 2019 until well into May. In addition, our participants from the RMI still sent us even further material via cloud.
Since December 6th we are back in Germany. Our experiences in the Pacific have strongly influenced us. Did you know that the Marshallese way of saying hello has three spellings and three meanings? The “hello” of the Pacific Republic can be written as “Yokwe”, “Iakwe” or “Yakwe” and it means “hello”, but also “I love you.” Or “you are as beautiful as the rainbow is.”
Once a year, there is a Marshallese film festival on Majuro. Among the thirteen submissions this year was a short film about “Happiness”, which the young people created from our workshop in Laura. Although it won no prize in the end, it got a thunderous applause from the audience. Here it is. “Happiness” from Laura Highschool Media Team.
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 autumn, where a DHL messenger will one gray morning hand it over to Maria Kling at the garden fence. Good trip, small package! Do not get lost.
A lot has happened again. So much that we neglect this blog very much. By the summer of 2018, the participants in our workshops and we have shot many interviews and moods. The amount of material is enormous. We have also edited smaller film projects, some of which can (will) be found on this blog. In addition to the workshops on Majuro, Christina took over workshops on Ebeye. We were able to actively involve 75 people on the Marshall Islands in the film work, that is not counting the many advisors and helpers. That’s about 0.14 percent of the total population, but above all, there are 75 great people who contribute their experiences, perspectives and ideas to the project. (*1)
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 beings. Irony of time.
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.
The work of the research team around Mark Stege has been made possible by the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and the Marshall Islands Conservation Society.
We went to Rita. From here you can not drive on. Majuro’s main road ends here. (*1) 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.
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.
Much has happened since our last entry. On the 2nd of April we got our visas for a whole year. 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.
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.
In the meantime, we had to relocate the Kiribati project to the Marshall Islands, another island state in the region, which faces similar challenges as Kiribati due to climate change. Why this “move” was necessary, you can read about here.
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.
Officially we are still “tourists” and it’s weekend again. So we do the Cultural Tour to Abatao and get to know this side of the island. Abatao is the second island of North Tarawa, and the first one that can not be reached via a bridge. It is already considered an Outer Island. It is a foretaste on the other remoter islands of Kiribati.
On January 4, 2018, our small team arrived at the small airport on Tarawa. After three days of travel, we were finally there.
When the plane was still in the air, we had flattened our noses against the windows. In the midst of the azure blue vastness of the Pacific Ocean, which we had flown over for hours from Fiji, there was suddenly some pieces of land deep down there. Circular the shape, the tiny atolls arranged themselves on the caldera of an ancient volcano. Hard to imagine that there should be space enough for the landing of the jet. But there was space and we landed noisily. The thickest heat shot through the open hatches. After we had crossed the runway on foot and finally came to the customs office, the young officers began to use their mobiles frantically. From the office of the President they received the information: “Send them all back to Fiji.” What happened?
The Kiribati Project is our most comprehensive participatory film project so far. We are launching our third feature film project together with the people of the islands of the Republic of Kiribati. Due to the melting of the poles and the rise of the sea level, the groundwater stocks of numerous atolls are over-silting, the sea is beating faster than ever before over the islands and threatens to engulf them still in this century.
Our pitching video (last post under this one) tells you about our motives to make this movie.
Again, there is no script, no fixed statement to filch, but instead, the search for the stories that we will explore together with local people in a variety of workshops.
On the island of Tarawa we will start work in January 2018. The area of the Islands of the republic is huge. The islands spread across the vast Pacific Ocean on an area just about the size of the U.S.A. We will try to visit as many islands as possible and invite as many people as possible into the project.
In the course of the year 2018 you can follow the progress of the work on our project blog mauri-kiribati.com.
We are happy to have found a political patron for our project with the member of parliament, Michael Leutert, who has supported us intensively since the planning phase, encouraged us, pointed out possible funding and became a fan of this film project.
And we succeeded, to win Professor Dr. Mojib Latif for the scientific advice for the film, who gave us valuable advice already for the shooting at a first meeting in Hamburg.
We thank Maria Kling of the production “Studio Kalliope“, who believed in this project from the beginning and feared no difficulties and obstacles to get it going.
Together with Maria Kling from Film Production Kalliope (Potsdam, Babelsberg), 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.