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Film, Science

RIDM Preview: Les réfugiés de la planète bleue

Posted by Hannah / November 12, 2006

cow gas.jpgSorya sifts through the rubble picking out intact glasses, plates and bowls and laying them in a large clay pot. The rubble is all that remains of her house. Others withstood the tsunami's blast, but are scarred by a chalky white line that crosses royal blue doors and window frames. The low-lying chunk of land that Sorya once called home is part of the Maldives, one of the many small-island nations that are threatened by rising sea levels.

The scene is bleak. And it is only the first. Hélène Choquette and Jean-Philippe Duval (both previously, Marché Jean-Talon, 2003) tell the stories of the planet's earliest environmental refugees, those uprooted by flooding and hurricanes, oil exploration and monoculture, by traveling from the Maldives to Brazil to New Orleans to Alberta. And yet the images are beautiful. They capture sorrow and frustration, the way a man can be worn down and submit just to maintain his existence.

While Les réfugiés has a strong focus on climate change - greenhouse gas emissions, rising sea levels and more severe storms - it addresses the larger issues of western greed, progress and growth. The film flits between people and countries, parsing their stories with commentary from environmental economists and philosophers, before pulling them all together into a final forboding question: will we not act until everyone has suffered?

Les réfugiés reminds us that it isn't enough to stop driving our cars, air dry our clothes and to shut the lights when we leave the room. We need to rethink our perceptions of progress and consider the people and places that are given only the short stick to pick.

Les réfugiés de la planète bleue plays on Tuesday, November 14 at 7:30 p.m. at UQAM, 145 President-Kennedy. The film will be followed by a debate on climate change. Admission is $8 ($6 students). In many languages with French subtitles.

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