'I Am Greta' puts focus back on climate amid virus

2020-09-07 03:29:20 GMT2020-09-07 11:29:20(Beijing Time) Sina English
Greta Thunberg holds a poster reading “School strike for Climate” on Friday in front of the Swedish Parliament.  Greta Thunberg holds a poster reading “School strike for Climate” on Friday in front of the Swedish Parliament.

A documentary on teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, which premiered on Friday at the Venice Film Festival, is seeking to remind a world consumed with the coronavirus pandemic that the climate crisis is just as urgent and isn’t going away.

Thunberg appeared by video conference from school on Friday for the launch of “I Am Greta,” which is screening out of competition at Venice. The film follows the Swedish environmentalist from the beginning of her school strikes in Stockholm to her low-carbon travels around the world demanding that political leaders curb emissions.

The film, shot and directed by Nathan Grossman, contains never-before-seen footage of Thunberg’s two-week sailing journey across the Atlantic to speak at the United Nations climate conference in New York in 2019. At one point in the trip, undertaken to avoid the carbon footprint of flying, Thunberg cries out that she’s homesick and misses her dogs.

“It’s so much responsibility,” she wails, as the high-speed ship slams into the waves. “I don’t want to have to do this.”

Even though the film follows the #FridaysForFuture mass demonstrations that Thunberg launched through 2019, the era feels like a lifetime ago given the current COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on big assemblies.

Thunberg, now 17, urged the world to not forget the climate crisis and said the environmental campaign continues “in the way that is the most safe and that doesn’t put anyone at risk, in line with COVID-19 restrictions of course.”

In Stockholm on Friday morning, for example, she was out there striking before school, wearing a face mask and socially distanced from others. Thunberg returned to school last month after taking a year off for her activism.

Grossman had remarkably close access to Thunberg and her family as she was becoming an international media phenomenon, and the end result is a film that provides a much fuller portrait of an ordinary yet at the same time extraordinary teen.

Filming behind the scenes during the Atlantic crossing and long train trips to European capitals, Grossman shows a Thunberg who cries, struggles translating a phrase into French and gets frustrated with her father, but who then holds her own in the halls of power.

The film debunks some of the criticisms of Thunberg, showing her writing her own speeches and making clear she was the driving force in the campaign, not her parents or other environmental interests.


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