Documentary on Environmental Refugees Interrogates Neoliberalism

0 Posted by - October 8, 2007 - Blog, Screen
Still from Refugees of the Blue Planet

Still from Refugees of the Blue Planet

Refugees of the Blue Planet is a remarkable film that connects the unseemingly related geographic regions of Western Canada, the Maldives, and Brazil in a beautifully shot and slick one hour work. Avid documentary fans will already be well-aware of the central message of this Canadian documentary: corporate greed is not only consuming the very earth we live on, but leaving a path of poverty and misery in a scorched wake while “the North” continues in the blissful ignorance of privilege. There is a twist however, and it is this angle that the film takes that makes it such an informative and fascinating document of economic globalization and the modern side-effects. According to the UN environmental refugees now outnumber political refugees at a staggering 25 million. And as the film points out in a very subtle nod to optimism, it is an affliction that affects not only the very poor, but the wealthy as well, leading at least one interviewed expert to have hope for change.

From rising sea levels to hurricanes to monoculture “green deserts” to sour gas leaks in Alberta, the extreme corporate malfeasance, cajoled by the myopic and self-interested hand of governments like King Klein’s are exposed. And what is left are broken communities, decimated homes, jobless and dejected souls angry and despondent with nowhere to direct their frustrations. Enter Refugees of the Blue Planet: the film provides a platform, an outlet which serves as a conduit between those who may be sitting in the audience unmoved by recent environmental disasters like hurricanes and floods, to channel the stories of the survivors, of refugees seeking many things from justice to a place to sleep at night. The characters we meet are scattered postcards from the neoliberal project, an experiment gone terribly, viciously, wrong. The connections between environmental crisis and unchecked corporate rapaciousness have never been clearer than as they are in this work. The film’s technical troubles – redundant NFB voice of god narration, the art-destroying voice-over in lieu of subtitles, emotionally manipulative music – are not enough to detract from this intense portrait of the perils of neoliberal globalization.

Visit the film’s NFB site here.

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