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Sylvia Lawson at the Sydney Film Festival


22 June, 2011

I SAW about a tenth of the festival’s huge program – 161 films, with forty-two countries represented. At that rate you may find (at least) twelve people who saw twelve different festivals, and I can’t claim to speak for the other eleven. As I saw it, documentary supervened. Tom Zubrycki’s The Hungry Tide explores the effects of climate change and rising seas on the small Pacific nation of Kiribati – a scattering of sandy atolls – and the work of one of its citizens, Maria Tiimon, to spread the news internationally. Maria is seen at her job with an NGO in western Sydney, failing to make it home for her mother’s death, worrying for her father, and at Copenhagen in December 2009, pleading for her sinking nation; growing into her public speaking roles, and returning to Kiribati as one of a delegation led by Patrick Dodson. This is a marvellous film, strong in narrative, imagery, argument and character. Every politician should be obliged to watch it. (The Melbourne Film Festival will screen it on 1 August, and there will be a fund-raising screening for aid to Kiribati on 5 August at the Chauvel in Sydney.)


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