This captivating and visually breathtaking documentary focuses on the Tuvalu, Venice and Shishmaref. Each of those is an island threatened to completely disappear because of flooding caused by climate change. The film opens with a gorgeous aerial view of Tuvalu, the world’s fourth smallest country, located in the South Pacific. Little kids frolic in a grassy area flooded by rainwater, swing off of a slanted palm tree into the ocean, play sports together in an small field, and catch turtles. 13-year-old Sileta seems so happy there on the island along with her 10-year-old sister, Amata. Sileta’s aunt moved to New Zealand because she was afraid of the high tide flooding in Tuvalu. Everyone seem to live in harmony with nature there and has formed strong bonds through a sense of community---they don’t talk on the phone or use email to communicate---which helps to cope with their challenges by sharing them with others. Nature represents happiness and, most importantly, provides them with food and shelter. Their ways of life, though, are change because of climate change and, worst of all, their island will probably be the first one in the world to disappear from flooding. The island of Venice in Italy hasn’t fared any better. Venice is filled with historical landmarks that are threatened to be ruined by high tide flooding. Floodwaters from very high tides spill into all the tourist attractions and even into restaurants, shops and hotel, namely, the famous Hotel Danieli where everyone must wear boots in almost knee-deep water. A passionate worker at a glass factory explains that Veneticians have been making glassware for over one thousand years. In Shishmaref, a small village located on an island in the westernmost part of Alaska, suffers from melting ice caused by escalating temperatures. A Native Alaskan father explains the importance of land and sea as sources of food. Two parents give their account of how their son felt through the ice during a hunting trip and died because the ice was too thin. Ice use to be found in Shishmaref through the month of July, but not anymore because of climate change—as one of the parents keenly, “When nature changes, the world changes.” Director Tomoko Kana wisely allows the images to speak for themselves sans a musical score, patronization, preachiness or the use of voice-over narrations. By filming the natives going about their daily lives, she puts a human face on the issue of climate change. The sounds and images of nature together with the historical landmarks and the sense of community and unique culture in each island show you precisely how valuable and vital those locations are. After all, we live in an ecosystem and a cosmopolitan where one small change can make a huge difference in the long run. Beautiful Islands offers practical, hopeful solutions to the issue of climate change by inspiring you to put down your blackberry and/or shut off your computer and go out to experience nature in all of its wonders to understand why it should be preserved and, most importantly, to discuss the issue of climate change with others face-to-face, a task that’s easier said than done in technology-obsessed, alienated societies. At a running time of 1 hour and 46 minutes, Beautiful Islands manages to be breathtaking, captivating and inspirational. It’s a non-preachy, vital wake-up call for all of mankind.
Only When I Dance