In the contemporary epoch, the escalating specter of climate change looms as arguably the most pressing global crisis, necessitating multifaceted approaches to engagement and education. Amidst this crisis, artistic mediums, particularly films, have emerged as potent tools for communicating the intricate realities of climate change to a broad audience. Integrating scientific data, socio-political nuances, and emotional narratives, films possess the unique capability to transcend mere information dissemination, forging visceral connections that foster empathy and understanding.
Through visual storytelling, films can elucidate the complex interplay of environmental systems, the far-reaching repercussions of anthropogenic activities, and the imminent challenges that climate change poses to diverse ecosystems and communities. Moreover, the audio-visual nature of films augments their accessibility, enabling them to overcome linguistic and cultural barriers, thereby fostering a global dialogue on climate-related issues. By immersing viewers in universally compelling narratives that chronicle both the direct impacts and indirect consequences of climate change, films stimulate critical reflection and inspire collective action.
In this light, today we are going to explore a seven-part documentary series titled Stories and People from the Brink. It illuminates the multifaceted environmental challenges faced by the coastal villages of Kochi, Kerala. This series serves as a compelling manifestation of localized climate change repercussions, demonstrating their relevance on a global scale while offering a wellspring of inspiration for transformative actions within landscapes and communities grappling with climate crises.
The contextual framework of this series is the cataclysmic Kerala floods of 2018, which exacted a tragic toll of over 450 lives and incurred a financial burden exceeding five million dollars for recovery and rehabilitation. With Kerala in the epicenter, it stands as a pivotal reference point in India's confrontation with climate change. This dire event effectively underscored the irrefutable reality of the climate crisis, compelling individuals and communities alike to acknowledge the swift and irreversible transformation of their environment from the familiar to the extraordinary.
Spanning a diverse spectrum encompassing farmers, fisherfolk, artisans, schoolchildren, and entrepreneurs, these communities confront the capricious manifestations of climate change, particularly along coastal regions. These inhabitants, thrust into an uncompromising dialogue with escalating and intertwined predicaments, ranging from escalating temperatures, intensified cyclonic patterns, elevated sea levels, diminishing fish yields, recurrent tidal inundation, and soil degradation were precipitously positioned to secure their survival.
Stories and People from the Brink captures the narratives of seven individuals whose voices are often marginalized in the discourse on climate change. This ensemble includes a fisherman, a group of children, a farmer, a grassroots activist, and a locally elected representative. Their accounts furnish an immersive, emotive testimony that vividly portrays the localized consequences of climate change, bringing an acute sense of urgency and proximity to the issue.
The envisioned impact of this series extends beyond mere documentation; it aspires to galvanize and unveil the potential inherent in community-based solutions for climate change mitigation. By illuminating how communities can rally together to construct resilience in the face of environmental adversity, the docu-series strives to serve as a blueprint for global efforts aimed at fostering sustainability and fortitude.
This series traverses the terrain of Ernakulam, a coastal district in Kerala, to chronicle life in the throes of the climate crisis. While each episode unravels unique facets of existence, recurring themes surface—ranging from the harrowing impacts of tidal inundation and the erosion of livelihoods to the diaspora caused by migration, the loss of childhood innocence, and the fragility of daily existence. Moreover, the series encapsulates the initiatives spearheaded by individuals, organizations, and local governance entities striving to forge climate-resilient solutions within their communities.
The artistic approach employed foregrounds the protagonists as the architects of their own lived experiences. The intention is not merely to employ art as a medium for narrative sharing, but to actively engage in creative interventions that contribute to co-creating solutions for the challenges presented. Narrated in local dialects, the stories are imbued with the authenticity of the narrators, fostering a poignant body of work that bears witness to the profound imprint of climate change upon local landscapes. This narrative approach reveals the extraordinary aptitude of communities and individuals for cultivating resilience through innovative means.
The documentary series is a labor of love by the non-profit organization, Resilient Destinations Foundation, based in Kerala. Dedicated to collaboratively shaping climate-resilient destinations and nurturing responsible environmental stewardship, the group focuses on individuals and communities, who are vanguards of proactive climate action in local contexts. Through Stories and People from the Brink, their endeavor is to elucidate the narratives of those individuals and communities in a manner that amplifies their experiences, redirecting attention toward a wider audience.
Watch Climate Portraits from the Brink, the first part of the seven-part docu-series below:
The team behind the docu-series:
Portraits & Film by
Vimal Chandran & Ajay Menon
Promoter & Impact Producer
Gopinath Parayil @gparayil
Researcher & Writer
Dr Sreeja KG
Creative Director @harshad_o_0
Associate Director @aravindputhussery
Post Production Supervisor @anamay_prakash
VFX @rakezdp Rakesh Cherumadam & Manuprasad V P
Photo retouch @aibindevassy
Voice over Meenakshi Jayaram
Community connectors Dr Jayaraman C
Dr Madhusoodhanan CG & Shajan M P
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