Private Project

Flow & Rive (ENG)

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 Germany’s Rhine river’s witnesses.

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 attempts at 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
  • Kristina Jeormin
    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, Student
  • 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, English, German, Swiss German, English, German, Swiss German
  • Shooting Format:
  • 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 Ellis
Co-director, Producer, Camera assistant, and Scriptwriter.
It was while completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Anthropology with a focus in languages and theoretical linguistics from Vermont’s Middlebury College in 2009 that Roberto first encountered Heidegger’s essay The Question Concerning Technology. His interests in answering the questions opened therein led him to pursue a Masters in German Studies through Middlebury’s Summer Language Institute, which included a year at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz. With this degree he was able to enroll at the JGU as an international student, where he has been studying philosophy since 2016.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Part of what connects the authors of this work to the Rhine is their time living along it: for her studies in September 2015, Danielle moved to Bonn from Brazil, staying there for two years; Roberto left New York in 2016 and has been living in Mainz, studying philosophy ever since.
Even in this relatively short time, the Rhine has come to mean something deeply important for each of them. Underneath its relative historical and cultural meaning, the Rhine is a river. 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.

Despite being a matter of natural pride, embedded in the German and European cultural landscape, the Rhein reached its peak of pollution in the 1970s. Such disasters as the Sandoz or BASF incidents served as a sort of tipping point for the situation, precipitating wide scale policy change, the integration of regulations influenced by environmental concern, and the establishment of organizations such as the International Commission of the Protection of the Rhein. These events bore the Rhein its current status, making again possible a host of relations for the people who live along its shores. Underlying their relation to the river, however, another danger is beginning to make itself known, quickly becoming un-ignorable.

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, he and his Jolle got stranded in Basel; it was the summer of 2018, when the Rhine's water level fell to shocking, setting record lows. These new concerns have been brought on by a variety of inter- as well as intranational factors, involving dimensions of its ecosystem from the mountain to the estuary, as well as the larger role it plays, interconnected with other rivers, other veins of water criss-crossing the European landscape. Each of these places, each of these rivers are affected by how the people who live along them interact; while this fortunately now means less pollution, it certainly still means how the people along rivers use their land and manage the water cycles to work with their surrounding terrain.

Meanwhile, our eyes turn to the recent tragic situation in North Rhine-Westphalia as its reconstruction continues to unfold; our prayers and aid go to those most devastated by the catastrophe. While we salvage through the wreckage, the question of how this happened is on many minds, hearts, and lips. The increasing frequency of meteorological phenomena is precipitating a slew of disasters across the world. These other forms of natural disaster (fires, hurricanes) are not only aggravated by climate change, they are also a direct consequence of unsustainable land use, wasteful and inefficient production, and poor urban planning, negligent of the landscapes in which they are embedded. These are not new oversights; they have been and continue to be ignored, long sunk in ignorance and oblivion.

This was the central concern motivating this film, the text by Heidegger, as well as that of numerous other theorists and researchers across disciplines, who have been trying to sound the alarm for decades. For some reason, it is too often only in the face of such catastrophes that change is brought on; people are all too often only gripped by the danger when it strikes too close to home.

How long will these sirens fall on deaf ears?

Will only further catastrophe bring us all to listen?

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.

Observation: The file for preview is still to have subtitles corrected.