“I think the best story to tell is: Tell them who we are! We are Ocean People. And the same ocean that feeds us is now threatening us. Unfortunately, there is another ‘nuclear’ bomb coming our way. It is Climate Change.”
With these words, Canoes of the Marshall Islands Director Alson Kelen kicks off the trailer to the Marshallese and German-made movie “One Word: We are not drowning. We are fighting.” The movie, which has already screened at many film festivals around the world, premieres in Majuro at 7pm this Saturday at Jittak-En.
The movie is the result of German film team Kameradisten (Comrades) gaining support from the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and directors Viviana and Mark Uriona coming to Majuro to hold a series of workshops. “The Ministry’s focus wasn’t so much the movie.
Instead, they believe it’s important that countries struck by climate change have their own voice,” Mark said. “And to do this they need the skills to tell their stories. They gave us the support to be able to hold the workshops, which led to making the film.”
Collaborating with local non-profit Jo-Jikum, workshops were held in Majuro over nine months in 2018. “The workshops were to teach them how to write, how to write questions for the interviews.” This progressed into the trainees learning how to use video cameras and editing.
Mark said the film is definitely the work of the Marshallese people involved. “It is them who brought their ideas to the project. We were the ones being taught by them. They steered our attention to the important parts of the story and so it’s fitting that it comes to the place where it was born.”
The premiere of the film was to be in Majuro and Ebeye in November 2020, Mark said. “But our main organizer was to be Jack Niedenthal, but he has been so busy with Covid, that wasn’t possible. So we waited and waited and now seemed to be the right moment. Plus, the folk at GIZ said they really thought the movie was great and that they would make sure it would be seen in Majuro.”
The GIZ Low Carbon Sea Transport Team took over the initiative to organize the screening and they are hoping loads of people will attend the free screening. In Ebeye, educator Deo Keju is working out the details of how and when to screen the movie.
One of the first festivals to show One Word was the Tokyo Lift Off Film Festival in March 2020. “It was a virtual film festival and we came third in the audience vote.” Mark noted that the Kameradisten team is “super small” so being accepted at international festivals is a big thing.
“At one of the big festivals, the Handling Climate Change Film Festival we won bronze. But to be even picked to be in a film festival is a prize, such as the 40th Hawaii International Film Festival.” One Word was also shown at festivals in Hawaii, Tinidad, Argentina, England, Italy, Australia, and Estonia.
The film’s characters who tell the Marshall Islands climate change story include editor Giff Johnson, poet and Jo-Jikum director Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, the Disaster Office’s Timmy Langrine, National Energy Planner Angeline Heine-Reimers, Tobolar’s Jim Philippo, educator Biram Stege, and Education Minister Kitlang Kabua.
You can check out the trailer for One Word at https://one-word-the-movie.comMembers of the One Word filming team shoot an interview in Majuro. The film will premiere in Majuro at Jittak-En Saturday, March 6 at 7pm.