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…demonstrates a long-standing divisiveness toward the debate of climate change in Australia, but also a reverence for nature that is worth fighting for.
Wild Things, directed by Sally Ingleton, tackles the fraught issue of action on climate change within Australia through the perspectives of ordinary individuals who make extraordinary sacrifices for the cause.
The documentary tracks Australian environmental activists over a one-year period as they prepare for three major landmark events in the School Strike 4 Climate, Stop Adani and Save the Tarkine protests.
On the one hand, a 14-year-old schoolgirl from Castlemaine, Harriet O’ Shea Carre organises strikes from school with a handful of her classmates to raise awareness about climate change. In just over a year, her efforts burgeon out to Melbourne’s CBD, whereby thousands occupy city streets protesting governmental inaction. The film adopts a political tone, as Carre meets with politicians, conducts speeches, and is invited to the United Nations Youth Climate Summit in New York. This exponential growth is contextualised with news stories and interviews that demonstrate the global outreach of her efforts, as well as how the youth of Australia are fighting important battles that the adults avoid.
In contrast, the film takes on a more rugged approach by showing handheld and phone footage of Dr. Lisa Searle, and other frontline activists, during logging protests in the Tarkine. These scenes feel highly confrontational, as protestors come face-to-face with enormous trucks and machinery, incessant abuse from passers-by, and being arrested. Yet, in the face of adversity, these activists show stoicism to prevent further destruction to the rainforest.
While the subject matter seldom delves into science, it is more concerned with concrete action that ordinary folk are able to follow. With short interludes illustrating building tents, reading maps, or even jamming machinery with pipes and barrels, these sections of the film demonstrate the sheer breadth of action taking place.
The exhaustive day-to-day actions of the activists that the film focuses on, understandably lacks a sense of achievement. Powerful governments and corporations easily overwhelming the organised efforts of protestors presents the issue as a futile fight. To mitigate feelings of hopelessness, the film deploys archival footage of protests in the 1970s and ‘80s that led to substantial long-term impacts in protecting the environment. Not only this, it also briefly delves into Aboriginal history to highlight how coal mining companies damaged sacred land. This demonstrates a long-standing divisiveness toward the debate of climate change in Australia, but also a reverence for nature that is worth fighting for.
Main Photo by Julian Meehan