Friday, April 12, 2019

That sinking feeling, all over again, in Matthieu Rytz's documentary, ANOTE'S ARK

Déjà vu may set in quite early while viewing ANOTE'S ARK, the new documentary from Matthieu Rytz, if you recall, as readily as did TrustMovies, the more-than-slightly-similar story told in the 2012 documentary, The Island President. That film detailed the losing battle by the President of the Maldives to try to save his land of atolls from being completely engulfed by the ocean due to ongoing climate change.

In this new doc, Mr. Rytz (shown below) tells quite a similar story about Anote Tong, now ex-President of the island nation of Kiribati, which finds itself in almost exactly the same situation.

I was not much impressed with The Island President as a piece of filmmaking, and I am equally unimpressed with Anote'Ark for the same reasons. The film hops, skips and jumps all over the place, giving us cursory looks at everything it touches. And yet the subject of both films is so hugely important to the people who live in both locations that you feel you simply must pay attention. Plus, these little islands are giving the rest of world a preview of what is to come.

The titular subject of Anote's Ark does not even exist. Not yet, at least. There is no ark, nor does it look like there ever will be. But Mr. Tong (above, second from left and below), as did the Maldives Prez, globe-trots his ass off, trying to raise awareness of his country's dire situation. He does raise that awareness, but becoming aware and actually doing something are two quite different things. As usual, the "hearts and prayers" of everyone are touched. And so fucking what?

Just as was the Maldives man, Anote, as we learn over the end credits, is now out of office, with his successor undoing everything that Anote had put in place in regard to saving his homeland.

Along the way, we do meet a sweet family man and woman --  Ato and Sermary (the later shown above, right) -- and their children, one of these conceived and birthed during the course of the film. Too bad we don't learn more about these people; they do represent the human face of Kiribati, but
they're sort of cursory, as is all else in this documentary.

Anote travels to Paris meeting on climate change (above) and elsewhere, speaking up on behalf of Kiribati and its plight, and filmmaker Rytz shows us a climate change march in New York City (below), as well as a multitude of beautiful shots of this soon-to-be-washed-over island nation. And that's it.

Of course, we feel awful for what is eventually going to happen to Kiribati. And we also know that, if the governments of the wealthiest and most powerful nations of the world can't and won't even do what is necessary to help their own countries, what hope is there for tiniest little places like the Maldives and Kiribati? That's right: none.

Which is why, once again as with The Island President, this movie -- whatever it qualifications in terms of moviemaking skill, which I would rate as mediocre -- is among the most depressing ever. See it and weep.

From First Run Features and lasting but 77 minutes, Anote's Ark comes available on DVD and streaming via iTunes this coming Tuesday, April 16. 

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