Unless you have been hiding under a rock these last couple of months, the record loss of Arctic sea ice this summer will not have escaped your attention. According to the scientists, the Arctic ice melt broke all previous records (and not a small margin but by an an area larger than the state of Texas) and represents the clearest sign yet of global warming. So, what can we do? Well, lots but one interesting question that award-winning documentary filmmaker and photographer Saeed Taji Farouky want us to ask is ‘can art save the Arctic?’
Around a year ago, Farouky was invited to join an artists residency on a tall ship sailing around Norway’s Svalbard Archipelago for two weeks. During that trip he shot …Even That Void, a surreal, semi-fictional, sci-fi ecological documentary. Farouky now wants support to fund a full length documentary which will not only explore the loss of this last great wilderness but will turn the ecological documentary genre on its head.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am Saeed Taji Farouky, an award-winning documentary filmmaker [based in London]. I am a Senior Fellow at TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design). I’ve been previously named Artist-In-Residence at Tate Britain and twice at the British Museum for my film and photography work. In 2004, I co-founded the production Tourist With A Typewriter with Gareth Keogh.
What inspired you to make this ecological documentary about the arctic?
As a human-rights and social justice filmmaker I find that many documentaries about environmentalism can’t get beyond academics and politics. So with my latest experimental documentary, There Will Be Some Who Will Not Fear Even That Void, my team and I will turn the traditional ‘ecological-documentary’ on its head and re-connect environmentalism to humanism, morality and passion. We want viewers to see that the movement to protect the natural world is as much about ethics as it is about technology. Our film will bring a new dimension to the debate about climate change and ask “can art save the Arctic?”
What is going to be different about this film?
There Will Be Some Who Will Not Fear Even That Void is an ecological film for the 21st century.
During the two weeks I spent on the tall ship Antigua, I filmed, interviewed and collaborated with the other artists on board to chronicle the bizarre, surreal, beautiful and frightening works of art they made in response to the extreme and poetic environment of the Arctic landscape. Together with photographers, performance artists, painters, sound artists, writers, and general creative disruptors of the norm, we made a documentary that will re-define the “environmental film” genre and surprise audiences into reconsidering their relationship with the natural world.
While the footage I shot is real, the plot – inspired by the other-worldliness of the location and recent events in my own life – is fictional. I imagine the artists as a team of specialists sent on a mission in the future to rebuild the Arctic environment after it has been almost completely destroyed by global warming. With no master plan, maps or blueprints, each artist recreates the Arctic of his or her own (flawed) memories, fears and desires. Through the film’s narration I will also address darker contemporary concerns: global warming, the Arctic resource race, the political tension of a militarised Arctic and the disappearance of the last great wilderness. Ultimately, the film is my love-letter to the Arctic: obsessive, tumultuous, affectionate and heart-breaking.
Wondering about the film’s catchy title?
Yes, we are!
It is taken from a letter Johannes Kepler wrote to Galileo Galilei in 1610, musing on the future of space travel. “Provide ship or sails adapted to the heavenly breezes,” Kepler hypothesised, “and there will be some who will not fear even that void.”
Why have you launched the kickstarter campaign and what will the supporter’s money go towards?
The team and I have been invited to return to the Norwegian Arctic – to the city of Tromsø – in November to edit the film and write and record an ambitious soundtrack with Norwegian ambient and Jazz musicians. We already have an excellent distributor on board – DR Sales from Denmark – and a brilliant Norwegian co-Producer, John Arvid Berger from JAB Film based in Tromsø. We also have plans for an international premiere in a major US festival. But in order for this to happen, we really need you to be a part of the team too.
We’ve already secured a grant from the wonderful people at the North Norwegian Film Centre to cover expenses in Norway like studio time and local technicians and studio engineers. This Kickstarter campaign will get our team to Norway to work for five weeks, and will allow us to collaborate with a local sound designer. Your pledges will also cover the costs of bringing together an impressive collection of local and well-known Norwegian ambient and Jazz musicians to record the soundtrack: musicians travel costs, fees and legal expenses. Stay tuned for more details of the musicians we’ll be working with as our new collaborations are announced.
Anything else you’d like to add?
We do need lots of generous backers to finish the film but if you can’t make a pledge, you can still be part of the team by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or just generally spreading the word. It really would mean a lot to us.
Content and information via the Kickstarter page. Images via Saeed Taji Farouky.
For more on arctic and eco-films see:
Greenland’s Melting Glacier will affect Middle East
The Lorax Brings a Muddling Message to MidEast
Abu Dhabi Behind Matt Damon Anti-Fracking Film