While most people continue to look upward (into the air) as far as CO2 emissions, many people have overlooked looking down (into the oceans) but they won’t make that mistake after seeing the interesting, informative yet personal enviro-doc Sea Change. Unlike so many other “green” films and documentaries that hit people over the head with stats and charts not to mention fire and brimstone, director Barbara Ettinger (“Independent Lens” – Two Square Miles) takes a more personal approach (aided by having her on-screen husband Sven Huseby) to explore the causes behind the rapid rate of ocean acidification. And rapid it is.
As a former college professor and current grandfather, Sven serves as a genteel informant/host/interviewer willing to learn and listen rather than comment and direct. He offers the natural ability to teach and engage in conversation. Even non-greenies can admire his feelings and interest as a grandfather intested in educating himself and others about the dangerous status of the ocean life for the sake of his grandson.
Shot in a soft tone (the filmmakers never used location lights to cut down on their carbon footprint) the Sea Change uses just a sprinkling of numbers and stats to make their points, and instead uses interviews with various scientists, artists and writers to bring home the points. Ettinger makes solid use of comparing the Exxon Valdez footage and spill catastrophe to demonstrate what will happen to communities should ocean acidification continue – devastation.
The film lacks the scolding element so common in other green films. It creates more of subtle quality to emphasize the important aspects of what continues to happen to our oceans. It’s easy to ignore something that you don’t see like garbage going to a dump or meat coming from a factory farm.
Sea Change creates a climate where we can think of the ocean acidy issue now like the threat of nuclear war back in the 50s, it is that serious just less political. If this film doesn’t get your fish sticks shaking then nothing else might.
Screens at 52nd San Francisco International Film Festival April 30