What happens when your nation is swallowed by the sea?
Kiribati, a low-lying Pacific atoll nation, is destined to disappear within decades – due to rising sea levels, population growth, and climate change. Interweaving two personal stories of survival and resilience, Anote’s Ark explores what it takes to migrate an entire nation with dignity.
–In 2012, on a trip from Panama to Colombia, I visited an archipelago of more than 375 islands known as the Kuna Yala. There, for the first time, I came face to face with a people whose land was about to disappear. I began working on a photo essay, which was eventually published in the New York Times. I decided that I needed to explore this issue in greater depth, so I left for the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Kiribati, where I spent the month of January 2014 documenting the lives of the people there.
After this trip to the Pacific, I felt both righteous anger at the injustice of the situation, and a sense of powerlessness in the face of such an inevitable outcome. I wanted people around the world to see the impact that climate change is having on vulnerable people and nations today, far away from the news cameras and the centers of power. I knew then that I needed to make this film.
Anote’s Ark will be the first feature film ever made in the Republic of Kiribati. I feel honored, and also entrusted with a great responsibility, to tell this small nation’s story before it disappears. I want this film to give a voice to the people of Kiribati. I want the world to see their commitment to caring for people, their respect for the natural world, and their dignity and grace as they face the loss of their entire country. They are leading by example, and we must listen, and learn from them, before their fate becomes our own.
Two destinies facing the global climate change
Anote’s Ark focuses on two main characters: Anote Tong, Former President of Kiribati and Sermary Tiare, a mother of 6 who made the choice to move to New-Zealand.
By interweaving stories of survival and resilience, Anote’s Ark explores what happens when a people is faced with losing their homeland forever. The movie is building a metaphoric Ark by bringing together incredible destinies that rise awarness of the challenges that is facing an entire nation.
Anote Tong, Former President of Kiribati
Since coming to power as “Beretitenti” (President) of the Republic of Kiribati, Anote Tong has participated in every international climate forum, sounding the alarm about rising sea levels and their consequences for his people.
His goal is to compel developed countries, whose high levels of consumption have contributed most to climate change, to accept their responsibility for the damages that greenhouse gases cause in places like Kiribati – where those who have contributed least to climate change are now forced to pay the ultimate price. Anote’s final term as President ended in early 2016.
Sermary Tiare, Mother in exile
Sermary is a mother of six from the remote atoll of Abemama. Her land and home is regularly submerged beneath the rising waters, so at 34 years old, she decides that she must leave Kiribati for New Zealand. In Auckland, in addition to feeling out of place in an urban environment, she is faced with deep feelings of isolation and loneliness. Separated from her children and her husband, her situation is all the more difficult because her youngest son is only 19 months old. These profound changes are further amplified by the certainty that one day her country will be gone, and that their homeland will be no more than a distant memory for her children.
EYESTEELFILM in association with DOCUMENTARY CHANNEL present “ANOTE’S ARK”, a film by Matthieu Rytz
featuring President Anote Tong & Tiemeri (Sermary) Tiare
WRITTEN, DIRECTED AND PRODUCED by Matthieu Rytz
EDITORS: Oana Suteu Khintirian & Mila Aung-Thwin
MUSIC: Patrick Watson
SOUND DESIGNER: Sylvain Bellemare
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Matthieu Rytz
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Bob Moore, Mila Aung-Thwin, Daniel Cross
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Shari Sant Plummer, Shannon O’Leary Joy