The Equilibrium Between Water, Earth, and Everything in Between.
A curated online programme for Earth Day 2023
Leah Park, Maya Lambert, Chloe Miller and Rokhaya Thioub
Planet Earth is our only home. It has the perfect conditions for humans and all other living creatures to exist in perfect balance. The disruption of this balance is becoming a problem we no longer have the option to ignore. Our planet needs our help to thrive. That’s why each year on April 22nd more than a billion people celebrate Earth Day to protect the planet from pollution and deforestation. By taking part in activities like picking up litter and planting trees, we’re making our world a happier, healthier place to live.
This programme will take you on a journey through an intergenerational Black and Indigenous lens that jumps between present, past, and future to discover the equilibrium between water, earth, and everything in between.
We start our water journey with Asha, from Pumzi (2009) directed by Wanuri Kahiu, to see into the future the effects of extreme water deficiency after World War III, The Water War. We then reach back into the past with Sebastián Calfuqueo in Kowkülen (2020) to learn about water commodification in Chile and listen to the cold water speak to us.
Moving to the freezing water of Angry Inuk (2012), directed by Alethea Arnaquq-Barilwhen, we learn about the dangers of activism when certain voices are ignored. We close the water section to witness the effects of extreme weather and human-made obstacles through the eyes of a child in Beasts of The Southern Wild (2012). Co-written by Lucy Ailbar, this is a film that reinforces the message that we all exist in this perfect balance and are part of the pieces of the puzzle that is the universe.
In the earth section, the equilibrium messages still stand strong. We open with Kiss the Ground, written by Rebecca Harrell Tickell, a documentary explaining how every living being contributes positively to the growth of all organic life. It argues this by exposing the dangers of using chemicals in farming, which can strip the Earth of its mantle. We continue with Daughters of The Dust (1991) directed and written by Julie Dash, to focus on the story of a generational split of formerly-enslaved people in the Gullah community of coastal South Carolina. The film explores the discord between holding on to past traditions and the desire to move on into ‘civilization’. FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992), co-written by Diana Young, is an animation for the enjoyment of adults and children alike that has an important intergenerational message about the future of the rainforest. We conclude with this love letter to the planet, The Peace of Wild Things (2020) directed and animated by Katy Wang, highlighting the bond between nature and humans and their capacity to rebuild.
Pumzi (South Africa; Kenya, 2009, 23 mins)
Directed by Wanuri Kahiu
Pumzi is an afrofuturistic short film exploring the world 35 years after WWIII: The Water War. Asha’s community is extremely strict with its water and energy production. Even urine and sweat are purified and reused, and citizens are allowed only a small amount of water per day. Asha is the curator of The Natural History Museum. While working, she has a dream about a healthy tree and water, however, the machine promptly asks her to take a dream suppressant. Asha receives soil from an anonymous source and finds out it’s healthy. She embarks on a journey of discovery and restoration.
Kowkulen (Chile, 2020, 3.5mins)
Directed by Sebastian Calfuqueo
Kowkulen translates to “liquid being”, from Mapudungun. This short highlights the 1981 Water Code which describes the water in Chile as a marketable good. Directed by Sebastian Calfuqueo, they address the topics of the body, binarism, gender, sexuality, and the historical relationship between water and life. Calfuqueo uses this work to reflect on the nonbinary Mapuche identity and the non-binary way of inhabiting within nature, shown through the blue rope tied around their body.
Angry Inuk (Canada, 2016, 85 mins)
Directed by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril
Angry Inuk is a 2016 Canadian Inuit-themed feature-length documentary film written and directed by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril that defends the Inuit seal hunt. The documentary shows how important it is to hear everyone's voice as an activist, and not believe everything multi-million associations feed you. Otherwise, there’s a risk of ruining entire communities. Seal hunting has been demonized for decades leading to a market crash that greatly negatively impacted Inuit communities. It lead to famine and suicide, despite the supposed protection given by the law. After years of rebuilding, another campaign threatens to crash their economy again. Angry Inuk follows the journey of this campaign, led by Inuit adults and youth, to establish international and national protections for Inuit seal hunters so that they can secure income and care for the land in a traditional and efficient manner. It also shows that their hunting is sustainable, unlike how it's depicted by animal rights activists.
Kiss The Ground (US, 2020, 84 mins)
Directed by Rebecca Harrell Tickell, Josh Tickell
Written by Rebecca Harrell Tickell, Josh Tickell and Johnny O’Hara
Kiss The Ground is a 2020 American feature length documentary written and directed by Rebecca Harrell Tickell and Joshua Tickell, narrated by Woody Harrelson. It shows how we can help stop our ever-growing climate crisis through changing the way we farm.
The breakthrough documentary reveals that by regenerating our soil we can stabilize the climate, reduce global emissions and even restore lost ecosystems. The film features celebrity activists, scientists and farmers that come together to form a global movement around regenerative agriculture and to encourage others to join the cause. In a way the film educates the audience about what they can do to help and comes up with different solutions that a range of people can try, whether it be other farmers who have access to fields and machinery or a family that can turn to composting excess food waste. We need to save our Earth and soil regeneration might be the way forward.
Daughters of the Dust (US, 1991, 112 mins)
Directed and Written by Julie Dash
Daughters of the Dust is a 1991 American German independent film written and directed by Julie Dash. The film gives the audience insight into three generations of Gullah women who live on St. Helena Island in South Carolina. The Gullah community is struggling to maintain their cultural heritage and contemplates making the decision to migrate to the North, away from their roots. Daughters of the Dust was the first film directed by a Black woman to receive nationwide theatrical release in America. The film first premiered in New York in 1991 and ran for four months straight with venues selling out on weekends. One of the many themes throughout the film shows how to grow and move on from trauma instead of letting it define who they are as a person. This theme is shown through one of the characters called Eula who faces trauma in her life and is told to embrace it as part of her story.
Beasts of the Southern Wild (US, 2012, 93 mins)
Directed by Benh Zeitlin
Written by Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar
Beasts of the Southern Wild is written by Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, who also directed the American fantasy drama. Raised in a wilderness community by her father, Wink, six-year-old Hushpuppy is forced to look outwards when her world begins to crumble. Hushpuppy ventures to search for her mother, whilst prehistoric creatures slowly trek towards her. The exceptional visuals of this film capture the beauty of Hushpuppy’s world, internally and externally, as she battles through the Earth, her resilience carrying her on when her father falls ill sees her exceed the boundaries of what she knows. Quvenzhané Wallis’ performance captures the youthful strength of Hushpuppy and the animalistic relationship between her father and outlook on the world. A beautiful film about human emotion, community and the environment.
FernGully: The Last Rainforest (US, 1992, 74 mins)
Directed by Bill Kroyer
Written by Diana Young and Jim Cox
FernGully: The Last Rainforest is an adventure cartoon written by Diana Young and Jim Cox and directed by Bill Kroyer. Within the vibrant Australian rainforest, FernGully sprite Crysta, shrinks human lumberjack boy, Zak. He promises to help save the rainforest from being inhabited by a logging company. Unintentionally, Zak releases an evil spirit, Hexxus, who’s incentive is to destroy FernGully. On a whimsical adventure to save the rainforest from the polluting force of destruction, Zak learns the importance of deforestation and the need to save the rainforest.
The Peace of Wild Things (US, 2020, 1 min)
Directed and Animated by Katy Wang
The Peace of Wild Things is a visual poem directed and animated by Katy Wang and illustrated by Charlotte Ager. It tells the journey of a man finding peace through nature as Wendell Berry narrates his poem, ‘The Peace of Wild Things’. The short animation embraces the beauty of nature with images of forests, wildlife and bodies of water whilst also bringing awareness to how troubled our planet is, and how we should live in the present despite the chaos in humanity.
From left to right: Leah Park, Maya Lambert, Chloe Miller and Rokhaya Thioub.
We are a group of final-year Film Studies & Screenwriting students at Sheffield Hallam University, passionate about films and fascinated by the influence they have on people.