When the ice melts in Thule, Tuvalu drowns into the ocean

"ThuleTuvalu" is about people from two entirely different ends of the earth who are increasingly bound together by the ongoing process of global warming, people who in both places are being confronted with the fact that they must change the very essence of their existences.

The film tells of hunters in Thule in North Greenland, the northernmost point on Earth, who still, like their ancestors, spend most of the year at temperatures up to 40° below zero in clothes made of hide and who go out hunting with dogdrawn sleds to feed their families and their dogs. And it tells of the island dwellers of Tuvalu, who live on narrow coral reefs in the endless Pacific and who, like many generations before them, nourish themselves with fish, coconut and the vegetables they themselves cultivate.

At both locations the film participates in the partially archaic lives of these so disparate worlds – that of the icy north and that of the tropical Pacific island.

Over its course, not only the disimillarities but also ever more connections and commonalities become apparent: it is seen at both locations that regardless of whether it‘s a matter of hunting or fishing, a sled ride or the construction of a canoe, the sea, the primary source of nourishment, is that which determines the entire existence of these people. In both places we experience how this close, dependent relationship on nature has established enduring and specific approaches for lives led for centuries at such remove from the rest of the world. In observing the protagonists, it becomes ever plainer how the melting of ice in the north alters the seasons, the landscape and also entire lives, just as the thus-ensuing rise in sea levels means the inhabitants of Tuvalu are exposed to the threat of having their homeland one day sink beneath the waves. Together with the main characters of this film, we experience how these changes to their environments increasingly determine their plans and thoughts. They struggle to take a stance between hope and fury, resignation and confidence. And some of them even find themselves forced to draw a line beneath their previous existence and to start all over in an entirely different life.

The stories from these two locations merge during the course of the film to become one narrative in which the protagonists increasingly assume the form of first and finest seismographs, registering a transformation that will one day touch everyone on Earth.

Selected for the Films for the Earth Festival 2015.

"Thule Tuvalu" approaches the issue of climate change from a new perspective. Very impressively, the film shows the dramatic impact of the rising sea level on the lives of the hunters of northern Greenland and the islanders of Tuvalu - that, at first glance, seem to have nothing in common.

Personal stories are presented in great detail without losing objectivity. The emotionally touching stories evoke viewer sympathy. In revealing connections between two very distant places, the film gives us the chance to gain a planetary perspective and to draw connections between the tragic destinies of individuals. However, future perspectives and solutions are only marginally touched upon and the film doesn't inspire viewers to take action.

Considering the technical performance, "Thule Tuvalu" stands out due to remarkable camerawork, unique pictures and scenes and a beautiful soundtrack.

Director(s): Matthias von Gunten
Script: Matthias von Gunten
Production: Matthias von Gunten, Valentin Greutert, <a href=>HesseGreutert Film AG</a>, Simon Hesse
Music: Marcel Vaid
Actors: Rasmus Avike, Lars Jeremiassen, Patrick Malaki, Takuao Malaki, Vevea Tepou, Foni Tulafono, Kaipati Vevea
Year: 2014
Duration: 96 min
Our age recommendation: 12
Language (audio): English, Inuit, Tuvalan
Language (subtitles): German, French, English
Country of origin: Switzerland
Shooting Locations: Greenland, Tuvalu
Screening rights: LookNow! (Switzerland) | Perry Street Advisors (United States) | Accent Films ()

Further reviews


Main topic(s): Climate
Secondary topics: climate migration natural disasters
Mentions: Thule Tuvalu climate ocean climate change sea level ice rise global warming
Topic Page(s): Climate The nominated films of past Films for the Earth Festivals.


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