Private Project

Flow & Rive (GER)

In this visual essay, a philosopher and an independent filmmaker team up to craft a message about climate change, weaving together micro- and macrocosmic instances of humans' confrontation with nature, seen through an existentialist lens, and heard through the voices of people living and engaged with the river Rhine.

By virtue of its turbulent history, the Rhine illustrates many facets of humans’ relation to nature. With the constant threat of floods simultaneously possibilitating its fertile margins, and its seemingly ceaseless curves once making it Europe’s most plentiful source of salmon while also complicating fluvial travel and transport, the Rhine has always been a phenomenon wrought with dialectical complexity. Utilizing lines from the philosopher James Carse, the film engages a discussion about man’s illusions of safety, order, and control, bridging the gap between the problems of the past and the needs of the present. "Yet, where Danger is, grows the saving power also,” is an oft quoted line by the German poet Friedrich Hölderlin; including it in the Question Concerning Technology, Martin Heidegger’s argumentation concerning “Gestell” is also centralized in the film, included to characterize human’s process of recognizing a problem. Aiming to bring philosophy closer to people’s reality, the argument of danger as a trigger for salvation is raised as a plea for other possible solutions.

Is unignorable threat the only way to awaken action?

This film is a message for consideration, a wake up call to reclaim our role in these occurrences. If the coming devastation and danger can not be stopped, then we desperately need to reconsider the manner in which our systems can change to better manage such events in the future.

  • Danielle Rotholi
  • Roberto Luis Ellis
  • Roberto Luis Ellis
  • Danielle Rotholi
  • Roberto Luis Ellis
  • Danielle Rotholi
  • Kristina Jeromin
    Key Cast
  • Sebastian Zimmerman
    Key Cast
  • Toni Weibel
    Key Cast
  • Roman Eggenberger
    Key Cast
  • Martin Trutman
    Key Cast
  • Melmer Lodder
    Key Cast
  • Hugo Aaiben
    Key Cast
  • Elke Sabou
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    Documentary, Environment, Climate, Human, Student Film, Philosophy, Ecology
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 5 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    July 15, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    5,000 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    English, German, Swiss German
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Director Biography - Danielle Rotholi, Roberto Luis Ellis

Danielle Rotholi
Director, Co-producer, Camera woman, and Scriptwriter.
Descendant of a German family, Danielle grew up in various cities throughout Brazil, constantly fascinated by the regional cultures and accents, which embody the local, genuine personality of its people. She received her bachelor in Audiovisual & New Media, graduating with honors from the University of Fortaleza; for her, documentary production is a vivid artistic expression (Abyssal, 2016). After starting her career as a TV producer (Rede Globo), Danielle immigrated to Germany in 2015 to pursue a masters degree in International Media Studies at the Deutsche Welle Akademie in Bonn. Since then she has dedicated herself to integrating into German culture and its media market. Flow & Rive is her first European production; as a foreigner, her aim is to share a unique perspective towards a culture she admires and seeks to complement, as well as delivering a global message of awareness.

Roberto Luis Elils

Co-director, Producer, Camera Assistant, and Scriptwriter
Born to and raised by parents who emigrated from Panama and Brazil of Jamaican/Scottish and German/Czech descent, respectively, in New York City, U.S.A., it was at the end of his Bachelor’s studies (Sociology/Anthropology) in 2009 that Roberto first encountered Heidegger’s essay The Question Concerning Technology. Pursuing the line of inquiry to Germany, focusing his German learning through Existentialism, Hermeneutics, and Phenomenology, Roberto was frustrated with barriers of communication; the central question and potential importance for addressing problems impeding humanity’s progression into a sustainable future had emerged from meditations on this particular theory and, so, was technically an academic one. Its importance, however, seemed too relevant to just render a paper in inaccessible academic language no one would read. Although juxtaposing visions of the river and interviewees with relevant audio from interviews and narratives was certainly a challenge, this decelerative interweaving seemed a language more apt to communicate the question's multi-dimensional, theoretical intricacy, while infusing the contemplation with the situation's requisite relevance and call for immediacy of action. Its conception will also hopefully further a separate discourse, namely the documentary essay as a form of theses' exhibition in academic deliberation and dissemination.

Roberto studies Philosophy, currently enrolled in the Philosophical Institute's Master of Arts at the Johannes Gutenberg University, in Mainz, Germany.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Part of what connects us so deeply to the Rhine is our time living along it: for her studies in 2015, Danielle moved from Brazil to Bonn, staying there for two years; Roberto left New York in 2016 to live and study philosophy in Mainz. Even in this relatively short time, the Rhine has come to mean something deeply important for each of us. Undergirding the dimensions of its relative historical and cultural meaning, the Rhine is a river. Beyond a means of transportation, it is a source of renewal; it opens itself in a variety of ways every day to people along its entire length, from the quotidian and banal to the profoundly transformative.

When Roberto first hiked along the Rhine in the Swiss Alps, much foliage was already tinder dry, the possibility of a forest fire alarmingly high. Later, low water stranded him and his boat in Basel; it was the summer of 2018, when the Rhine's water level fell to shocking, record-setting lows. These disconcerting realities are a direct result of the ways in which the people who live along the Rhine manage their use of the river’s ecosystem to ensure their survival.

The message of caring for the river and global ecosystem arose from our experiences as foreigners creating a sense of Heimlichkeit not just by, but also through, with, on, in, and along the river; in taking a closer look at the Rhine and its history, the river demonstrates its individuality while simultaneously becoming one of many. For us, it is important to raise the discussion that natural disasters (floods, fires, hurricanes) are not only aggravated by climate change, they are also a direct consequence of unsustainable land use, wasteful and inefficient production, poor urban planning, and negligent and shortsighted engagement with the landscapes in which human settlements are embedded. These are not new oversights; they have been and continue to be ignored, long sunk in ignorance and oblivion.

The central concern motivating this film is in line with those raised by numerous other philosophers, theorists, and researchers across disciplines, who have been trying to sound the alarm for decades; it is too often only in the face of certain catastrophe that change is brought on.

How long will these sirens fall on deaf ears?
Will only further catastrophe bring us all to listen?