Tuesday, October 2, 2018

A cli-fi movie titled "When the Storm Fades" and directed by Canadian helmer Sean Devlin

Since 2012, the global landscape of cli-fi cultural websites has been chock full of news about thousands of fictional creations, in print and on the silver screen, talking about the global impact of human-induced climate change. In academia as well as in pop culture, this rapidly growing body of novels and movies is now commonly referred to by the catchy linguistic portmanteau ''cli-fi,'' a term coined by an American climate activist named living in Asia and monitored worldwide on social media and the internet via his dedicated website ''The Cli-Fi Report'' at www.cli-fi.net

That cli-fi has transitioned from a colloquial term coined by a lone blogger working independently in Asia and circulating around the blogosphere into a cultural buzzword can be seen, to name but a few examples from a long list, by its recent addition to the Oxford Dictionaries, its appearance in numerous international conferences and academic publications, the daily blogging of cli-fi-books.blogspot.com site, his egging on of the establishment of Amy Brady’s monthly ''cli-fi trends'' column, “Burning Worlds,” examining cli-fi novels and trends (Chicago Review of Books), and the increasing inclusion of cli-fi as a label in newspaper and internet articles and marketing strategies by publishers and movie studios.

In addition to the many cli-fi mentions in the media worldwide, there are also journalistic mentions of cli-fi novels and movies. Now more than 100 colleges and universities worldwide offer classes in cli-fi novels and movies.
The Cli-Fi Report from its inception was meant to provide an entryway into cli-fi’s many portals. While there is no general agreement on how cli-fi is to be defined, the term itself is understood as a simple abbreviation of the longer term of ''climate fiction.'' It is an independent, standalone literary genre, as he insists it is, or is it perhaps a subgenre of ''science fiction'' as some sci-fi literary critics and sci-fi historians opine? Whatever, cli-fi is here and it is here to stay. We can thank him for that.

​Without his constant blogging, tweeting and messaging about cli-fi on Facebook (in addition to an unending series of cli-fi PR emails since 2012 to hundreds of editors and reporters at internet websites around the world)​, cli-fi as a term would not exist. He set up the first Wikipedia page for cli-fi in 2013, which has morphed over time to a page now for "Climate Fiction," and he himself in his 70s is actively and energetically engaged 24/7 year-round without any vacations or days off from his computer desk and iPhone. It was his constant PR work since 2012 onward that led to cli-fi rise in public awareness, and that led to two New York Times articles in 2014 and  to Dr Brady's monthly ''cli-fi trends'' column in the The Chicago Review of Books which has also been picked up by the Yale Climate Communications website upon Bloom's recommendation to the editors there.

THE ''Cli-Fi ''REPORT:
Over 1000 academic and  media links worldwide now in a variety of languages:

A cli-fi movie titled "When the Storm Fades" and directed by Canadian helmer Sean Devlin
2018 Movie preview

Vancouver cli-fi filmmaker focuses on Typhoone Haiyan's aftermath in the Philippines which hit in 2013

Climate change and ‘voluntourists’ collide in docu-dramedy ''When the Storm Fades''

Even by typhoon standards, Yolanda was a monster.

By the time Typhoon Yolanda made landfall on the Filipino island of Leyte at 4:40 a.m. on Nov. 8, 2013, its winds were clocking in at 315 kilometres per hour. The storm surge that followed devastated the coastal city of Tacloban. Thousands drowned in their homes and in evacuation centres; thousands more were swept out to sea.
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Immediately after the storm, international news crews arrived in Tacloban and trained their cameras on the flattened, debris-strewn neighbourhoods and traumatized survivors.
Filmmaker Sean Devlin watched the typhoon coverage from his home in Vancouver. His mother was born and raised on the island of Leyte — both of his parents worked in international development. Devlin knew that one day soon the international news crews would leave, and the arduous process of healing — and navigating corruption and exploitation — would begin in earnest.
And this process is what Devlin’s docu-dramedy, When the Storm Fades, unpacks with audacious authenticity.
“I find that these storms and similar disasters, they’re in the news for a few days, and we get images of huge swathes of people, and then the story disappears,” says Devlin. “To me, it always felt really detached and statistical, and part of the impetus for making this film was to render something that was more sensual and emotional to give people a chance to experience some of what it’s like to live on the frontlines of climate change at a very personal, intimate level.”
When the Storm Fades screens this week at the 2018 Vancouver International Film Festival. Filmed on location in Tacloban in 2016, it’s fiction in as much as actors are presented playing out scenes, but for the most part, those actors are members of an actual Tacloban family — the Pablos — and they’re reenacting moments from their own lives, from the months and years after Yolanda destroyed their home and killed their loved ones.
When the Storm Fades screens at the Vancouver International Film Festival.
When the Storm Fades screens at the Vancouver International Film Festival.
For Devlin — an artist-activist who co-founded the website Shit Harper Did — it was critical that the Pablo family had a say in how their story was told.
Devlin had participated in workshops led by Filipino artist Merlinda Bobis in which she argued that stories should be handled “in the same way that we handle the remains of a human.”
“Stories need to be treated with that respect, and when someone passes away, there’s a certain logic and hierarchy to who has the right to speak on that person’s behalf to tell their story,” says Devlin.
Which is why Devlin asked the Pablo family to script their own dialogue. “I really didn’t feel comfortable putting words in these people’s mouths, and so the script was developed based on them sharing their own experiences and interactions that they had,” says Devlin.
When the Storm Fades includes a darkly comic subplot about a couple of young Canadian “voluntourists” (comedians Kayla Lorette and Aaron Read) in the Philippines purportedly to help the Pablos but who seem more intent on crafting the perfect Instagram shot.
Devlin drew inspiration for the Canadian characters from his own experience as an aid worker in Western Africa 12 years ago.
Those characters, he says, are present in the film to “provoke thought, especially among white audiences, because in most films where we see characters travelling overseas, the white folks are often framed as saviors. I wanted to poke holes in that myth.”
Devlin ran an IndieGoGo campaign for When the Storm Fades before filming began in early 2016. Half of the funds went directly to the Pablos — to rebuild their house, open a market stall and finance Lovely Pablo’s education.
“We were interested in making a film that wasn’t simply going to raise awareness about the struggles this family was encountering but was also going to provide some support in overcoming them,” says Devlin.
But his main goal with When the Storm Fades was to give a human face to the climate crisis.
“I think here, we tend to think of a lot of melting ice caps and polar bears, but the fact of the matter is that people in communities like Tacloban have been dealing with the impacts of this for decades and it’s only getting worse,” says Devlin.
“I think people don’t necessarily think about the socio-economic conditions of people in the Philippines as being connected to pollution we create here,” he adds. “There’s a debt of sorts that needs to be repaid one way or another.”
When the Storm Fades screens Oct. 4 and 7 at SFU Goldcorp as part of the 2018 Vancouver International Film Festival. More info at viff.org.

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