Documentary ‘Anote’s Ark’ immerses audience in climate crisis | ParkRecord.com

Documentary ‘Anote’s Ark’ immerses audience in climate crisis

Nan Chalat Noaker
Park Record contributing writer

If President Anote Tong looks familiar, it is because he has spent the last five years tirelessly trying to draw the world's attention to his country's desperate plight.

He has traveled to the Vatican to plead with the Pope Francis. He has addressed the United Nations and appeared alongside former U.S. President Barack Obama at the Paris Climate Accord sessions. He has flown over the North Pole to witness the melting glaciers, and he has waded through countless media interviews trying to convey the message that, due to rising sea levels caused by climate change, his country is about to sink into the sea.

If that happens, he warns, other lands will follow. According to Tong, The Republic of Kiribati is the canary in the coal mine.

In 2012, Matthieu Rytz joined Tong's Quixotic quest to raise awareness of Kiribati's precarious future. Rytz, an accomplished photographer based in Montreal, specializes in covering the effects of climate change on remote communities. Together, he and Tong deliver a powerful message.

The film's opening scenes offer a soaring aerial perspective of a verdant island surrounded by a pristine, aquamarine sea as President Tong explains, "We thought that, because we were so isolated, we were immune from the tribulations of this world. But here we are, subjected to the global phenomenon of climate change."

From the air, Rytz's camera descends to sea level where fishermen pull in their nets, children play in the water and families gather in simple thatched roof dwellings.

Recommended Stories For You

If not for the rising sea, it would be paradise, but Tong's warnings and Rytz's deft camera work foretell the coming storms and floods.

In addition to Tong's international travels — including a scientific expedition to the Arctic Circle — Rytz follows a local family as they struggle to maintain a livelihood on their shrinking island. First the father, then the mother, are forced to find work elsewhere, a fate shared by many of their countrymen.

As Tong's term as president comes to an end, he vows to continue his efforts to save his nation. Although his hopes to reverse climate change have dimmed, he explores the possibility of building a floating island, or as a last-ditch option, buying land on a nearby island in Fiji.

Tong's eloquence, paired with Rytz's stunning photography, combine to form a compelling Sundance-worthy documentary. The film is screening as part of the festival's New Climate section and will hopefully further amplify Tong's message that climate change is not a political issue but a global humanitarian crisis.

"Anote's Ark," an entry in the Sundance Film Festival World Documentary Competition, is set to screen at the following locations and times:

Friday, Jan. 19, 8:30 p.m., Egyptian Theatre

Saturday, Jan. 20, 6:45 p.m., Redstone 1

Tuesday, Jan. 23, 6 p.m., Broadway 6, Salt Lake City

Wednesday, Jan. 24, 3 p.m., Sundance Resort, Sundance

Thursday, Jan. 25, 3 p.m., Temple Theatre

Friday, Jan. 26, 9 a.m., Temple Theatre

“Anote’s Ark,” an entry in the Sundance Film Festival World Documentary Competition, is set to screen at the following locations and times:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 23, 6 p.m., Broadway 6, Salt Lake City
  • Wednesday, Jan. 24, 3 p.m., Sundance Resort, Sundance
  • Thursday, Jan. 25, 3 p.m., Temple Theatre
  • Friday, Jan. 26, 9 a.m., Temple Theatre