Environmental activist Satish Kumar guides us on a journey that surveys the grotesqueness and beauty of mankind’s interaction with the planet
“We have been very fortunate to have someone who is so passionate about the fundamental value of life,” director William Farr says of Satish Kumar, a former Jain monk who has been setting the global environment agenda for 50 years. “The facts are endless and the reality is undeniable; climate change is unnecessary and it will cause a massive loss of life if we don’t alter things.”
Earth (The Unseen) is a bird’s-eye tour of the beauty and grotesqueness of human interaction with the planet. So prolific is our ruination of the earth that trash has almost become a natural phenomenon—burnt rubber, discarded alloys and jettisoned materials pervade the landscape as much as tree roots and waterfalls. In this film that splices CGI graphics into traditional filming techniques, we get a further sense of the processed and manmade assimilating with the natural.
“By merging a real space with an alternate dimension, myself and Jon Emmony, this film’s joint director, wanted to present a sense of beauty in man’s interaction with nature,” says Farr. “Satish often talks about the spirit, reminding us that we are all made of nature.
“In this modern age it’s a privilege to have access to so much information, but in some ways it’s created a state of arrogance,” Farr continues. “We are stunted and limited. We often lose sight of the fact that our vision is nothing compared to some animals. Humans see so few spectrums of light and we can only smell a fraction of what a dog can. That’s why the film is called The Unseen.”
Earth (The Unseen) forms part of Survival Season, our special program charting the impact of human exploitation of Earth. Taking inspiration from the four classical elements—earth, air, water, fire—the films profile weather-beaten islands, the desolation of Earth’s natural resources, oceans clogged with plastics, and fires that rage as a consequence of global warming. Each film is a creative response to the harrowing effects of climate change, while reminding audiences that only humanity can be the fulcrum for transformation.