Private Project

That which is to come is just a promise

In a long sequence through Funafuti island, the state of drought and flooding alternate fluidly, and without interruption. The places and the actions of their inhabitants, in the constant and smooth movement from one state to another, set-aside the two recurring situations of the island: the waiting and the suspension. Since some years, Funafuti, in the Tuvalu archipelago, is the scene of a unique phenomenon: due to the unnatural overheating of the sea, salt water rises from the ground, flows through the pores of the land and floods it, putting the future of life at risk on the island.

  • Flatform
    Trento Symphonia; Quantum
  • Flatform
  • Giulia Achilli, Marco Alessi
    Samouni Road, Controfigura, The Challenge
  • Marc Thelosen
  • Catherine Fitzgerald
  • Tuvaluans
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Short
  • Runtime:
    20 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    May 5, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    250,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Cannes
    May 23, 2019
    World Premiere
    Quinzaine des Réalisateurs
Distribution Information
  • Lightcone
    Country: France
  • VDB
    Country: United States
Director Biography - Flatform

Flatform is an artist collective acting since 2006 and based in Milan and Berlin.
Films by Flatform have been featured in several film festivals such as IFFR in Rotterdam, Venice Int’l Film Festival, IFFT in Toronto, Kurzfilmtage in Oberhausen, LOOP in Barcelona, Festival du Nouveau Cinema in Montreal, IFF in Melbourne, International Doc Film Festival in Jihlava among others.
Works by Flatform have been shown in many museums and institutions including Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Centre Pompidou in Paris, MSU-Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, MAXXI Museum in Rome, Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, Museu da Imagem e do Som in San Paolo.
Selected Awards: Nashville Intl Film Festival, 2016; Go Shorts in Nijmegen, 2016; Jihlava Intl Doc Film Festival, 2015; 25FPS Zagreb, 2009; Screen Festival Oslo, 2008.

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Director Statement

Land and water are the protagonists of this work, at least as much as the people and the things that suffer their changes.

This film is told from a human point of view.

Land and water are both treated as walkable grounds, with the difference that if land has among its vocations that of being ground, water does not.

Land has the consistency to be walkable ground, water does not.

Usually the human body is supported on ground, while it sinks in water.

In this film there is no difference between being above and being inside.

Usually, gestures, actions and movements are different in these two distinct dimensions.

Not here.

The film is a poetic translation of the transition of a territory, of a way of life and of a culture, from one state of affairs to another.

This film talks about forced change, about something that seems natural and inevitable but that, instead, is caused by artificial and avoidable acts.

This film’s idea certainly arises from some recurring elements that characterize much of our recent work. In particular, we are referring to the attention given to spatiotemporal changes that, through a complex editing process, are created out of real footage. What has interested us for several years is the possibility of working on the landscape to create a continuum of situations that are normally considered either opposite to each other or generated one from the other. Nobody imagines these situations occupying the same time and place, which instead is what we do.

For years, one of the common threads that has guided our research is the production of a state of apparent impossibility, or the exposure, within a unity of time and place, of realities that are possible only in times and places that are distant from each other. In this regard, it seemed to us that what is happening and will happen in Tuvalu is perfect to further reflect on the poetic aspect triggered by large and small changes, whether personal, climatic, meteorological or cultural. Not only that: it also allows us to create a project that, without having any didacticism or ambitions to be a naturalistic documentary, pays attention in a poetic way to the drama that each state of exception generates.

We are always interested in challenges, meaning the manner and place where to create our own impossibilities and produce, at the same time, a “possible.” And this film is for us all and beyond that: the creation, exclusively from frames of real footage, of the moment of suspension caused by the transition from one state to another, in a fluid, seamless manner. Hence the choice of doing a 20-minute-long tracking shot in which, using only the dizzying and poetic power of images and sounds, a denunciation can also take form, one that, at least in words, is universally shared: the recognition of the threat posed to our planet by climate change.

We filmed in Tuvalu a single tracking shot three times in three different climate conditions, using perfectly identical timings, moves and frames. This necessarily entailed the creation of a filming apparatus that, through the use of GPS systems, allowed total accurate repetition of the established tracking shot.

The three different conditions are the two extremes, droughts and cyclonic storms, and the time between them. The first moment is characterized by the severe dryness of the land and is generated by the increasing impact of a meteorological phenomenon that cools the sea surface temperature, known as La Niña. The second moment is characterized by flooding and is generated by the increasing influence of another weather event, called El Niño. The third moment is, instead, the moment of passage between the first two.

All the shots, the camera movements, the actions of the people filmed and the timing, have been repeated with absolute precision. In the editing and post-production phases, this material permitted a fluid, seamless transition from drought to flood, while the characters enact those actions and movements that we found significantly reflective of the spirit of Tuvalu.
This constitutes the uniqueness of this film.