Once you know: “Here are the 3 axes for our future president!” -…

Once you know: "here are the 3 axes for our future president! " -...

Meeting with Emmanuel Cappellin, the director of “Once you know”, a documentary in the form of an alarm signal to make spectators aware of the ecological disaster that is looming.

AlloCiné: Where did you get the urge to realize Once you know?

Emmanuel Cappellin: Since a very young age, I have been animated or haunted – depending on the day! – by an impossible question: “Are we capable of self-regulation, not at the level of the individual or of a small group because localized examples abound to demonstrate it, but as a biological species that has become a geological force, a power? planetary? “. This is something completely new in our history. I belong to the generation that sees the human project coming up against physical limits that until now were thought unattainable, in particular with energy and the climate. I think it was this need to explore our collective confrontation to the limit that led me to realize Once You Know But it took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that deep down it was in a personal, subjective, and one-sided way that I wanted to explore. I started writing in 2012 but the idea for the film probably dates back to 2009. At the time, I was doing interviews for a documentary project on the first climate refugees. To explain the climatic mechanisms at work behind the often difficult experiences that these “refugees” told me, I also met scientists. The meeting with Charlie Veron, a specialist in corals in northern Australia, struck me. Instead of an objective talk about the situation, I discovered a distraught man and a deeply affected family. Charlie and his wife were studying an ecosystem that is disappearing with the acidification of the oceans caused by climate change. They had stopped talking about the climate in front of their 10-year-old son who was having depressions. Their 14-year-old daughter had left high school saying “What’s the use, no future?” “. I felt that this family, whose experience resonated strongly with me, was like a pair of binoculars that allowed me to see into the future and imagine what many other people might experience. as their expert knowledge spread. Would their eco-anxiety and their commitment become much more widespread social phenomena as awareness of climate impacts and their implications came back to us with great blows of scientific reports and lived catastrophes?

Throughout the film, you meet climate specialists, intellectuals who have modeled the chaos that threatens us … What encounters have moved you the most?

Each meeting was decisive. To make the film of course. But also for my life. Jean-marc Jancovici brings the necessary lucidity to the situation. Richard Heinberg allows us to feel sadness and mourn what is already lost. Saleemul Huq brings us back into the fight, fueled by healthy anger and a thirst for justice. Like Pablo Servigne, Susanne Moser plunges us both behind the psychological scenes of the internal conflict that all this development gives rise to and in the political expression of this conflict by encouraging us to reconsider the mechanics and the horizons of social change. I am very attached to all these protagonists – inevitably, after these years of filming them. Also because they gave me a lot by giving me their trust and gradually giving themselves up to me. But it is no coincidence that the film ends with the portrait of Susanne – an IPCC expert on vulnerability and adaptation to climate. From our first meeting in 2014, I identified very strongly with her, her background and the questions she chose to explore in her work. She was like a kind of happy and elusive alter-ego to me.

Two pitfalls threaten the militant documentary, particularly the environmental documentary: the cold observation and the torrent of emotions. You avoided both. How did you find the balance?

Thank you ! I take this question as a real compliment because finding that balance has been a real concern during the 8 years it took to make the film. If a balance has been found – it will be for the public to judge – I owe it to my endless discussions with many people including the producer of the film Clarisse Barreau and in particular the chief editor Anne-Marie Sangla who wrote and made the film in collaboration with me. Every time I said to him: “I don’t give a damn about the scientific observation on the climate, more than 600 films have already told it. What interests me is to see what happens when you have climbed the long distance. and steep slope of awareness and that we find ourselves on the other side of the pass of rational understanding to find ourselves in a new space, a new valley with unknown reliefs where our landmarks have disappeared, where everything seems foreign to us and moving, where you have to rebuild. That’s the story! “, she replied:” Oh yes? And how are you going to take us on this trip with you if you do not give us a minimum of luggage and ‘equipment to go on an adventure? How are you going to make us want to follow you to this valley? ” It is thanks to her that the film has gradually become more accessible, more generous if I may say so. To prevent what we slipped from “observation” in the film is too cold and distant, we have chosen to tell my own journey echoing that of the film’s experts and that of a whole generation confronted with it. to the observation. The common thread of my life which is rooted in a village, the action of its elected officials, the search for a form of relocation that allows to regain the power to act, it is something that has gradually come to light in the film and that I had not anticipated at all. I started taking pictures of my family, the village and me with the birth of my son Helio, in 2015, after already 3 years of writing and a year of filming!

There is a magnificent plan: a scientist, who has just confessed to you that he had given up having a child because of the climatic catastrophe which awaits us, is invited to a conference. He observes without saying a word as the participants enjoy a gargantuan buffet as if they hadn’t remembered a word from the frightening speeches they just heard.

The scene comes from a shoot that was not obvious. It was in 2015. I had learned at the last moment that Richard Heinberg would be going to a conference organized in Athens, in a Greece then in the midst of an economic crisis. The symbolic potential of ancient ruins, the force of the news of a country undergoing the collapse of the standard of living for many echoing the themes of the film … I could not miss that. Branle-bas-de-combat. At the time, I was still the only one to carry the project into self-production. You had to play all the roles – producer, director, fixer, cameraman, sound engineer. But it allowed me to react very quickly and to join Richard in time. We only had two days, and we ended up stranded most of the time in the luxury hotel where a Greek billionaire had organized this conference on sustainable development. For my part, I was still looking for a writing for Once you know which is my first feature film. I began to film the very formal atmosphere of the hotel, the corridors, the staff … And then there was this famous buffet. After Richard’s speech struggling to debunk the very idea of ​​sustainability in front of an audience of bored philanthropists, there was something obscene about this well-meaning abundance. I tried to make it happen by filming the bodies up close, the hands and forks rushing forward, and working to make this orgy manifest in the sound editing with Virgile Van Ginneken. This scene, I don’t think it is the desire to point out the culprits – because, deep down, aren’t we all within our means? It is rather a way of bringing us back to the harsh law of matter, to those earthly necessities which call us to order when we rise towards too many ideal. Ah, that damn matter that weighs us down! It also brings us together: how good the food is! People meet around the small ovens, fish torn from the oceans, bunches of grapes … And then we see Richard, alone in the crowd, who tries to make his way towards music playing in the distance, which is already elsewhere, in the world after, a depopulated world. At the end of the editing of this scene, I rediscovered the admiration and the deep empathy I felt for this courageous man and what had led me to follow him all these years. With Anne-Marie, we tried to take the viewer into his head, to share the loneliness implied by unwavering determination. We are there, with him, and we would like him – perhaps, for the space of a second – to do what is necessary to once again have the right to project oneself into a desirable future.

You are elected President of the Republic in 2022. What are the 3 measures for the climate that you take the day after your election?

Ah ah! Nice try, but I’ll kick in touch. Avoiding the initiated climate collapse would require thousands of specific actions carried out by millions of different actors replicated billions of times. The target of 1.5ºC – the maximum average warming temperature set in the Paris Agreement in 2015 – is undoubtedly already behind us because the effects of our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are being felt. decades after being released into the atmosphere. Staying below 2ºC of warming remains theoretically possible, but on condition that we repeat year after year the feat of global reduction of CO2 that we achieved for only a year “thanks” to the Covid crisis because almost all the countries of the world simultaneously forced themselves to shut down much of their economy that year. We are already seeing the GHG rebound this year. So to put forward 3 measures for the climate, rather than 1000 others, it is necessarily to maintain an illusion that the current political ecology and the climate movement convey when they affirm that we can avoid the climatic runaway with some of the flagship measures well chosen – 100% renewable energy, etc … We are moving towards a new climate regime that will redefine the habitability of the earth and redraw the maps of the world. What to do in the face of the enormity of the matter? Measuring this would be a start. Allow everyone to understand what technical, political and economic choices have brought us there too. Also understand how issues of climate justice and social justice can be complementary or opposed, depending on the social project we are targeting. Education is therefore essential, as always – perhaps not or more to avoid the disaster, but certainly to live it better and to rebuild along the way. In this spirit of resilience, we created a campaign to accompany the film that we called “Once you know, what do we do?”. The Terractiva association has formed a network of volunteers to lead some rather special discussion times after the screenings and has created a guide and a website. [RacinesDeResilience.org] which identify 150 actions and reference structures to help the public who so wish to move forward, to move from staff to collective, from observation to action. The public’s reaction to this campaign that we tested during the previews really makes us want to deploy it as much as possible, in all theaters. As we have organized the actions according to 3 forms of commitments which are often put in opposition, but which come together here – Interpose, regenerate, build – more people can find the gateway that corresponds to them to make a first not. “Hey, here they are finally the 3 axes for our future president!

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