Up the Sky
Directors: Yaba Badoe, Sharon Farr and Nelson Makengo
This short film packs a punch.
While we have all been adjusting and re-adjusting to the new realities of the Coronavirus pandemic, a far more pressing crisis has been off too many of our minds – the climate crisis.
The women in this documentary are at the frontline of the crisis and suffer the immediate consequences of the unaccountable and unethical actions of others.
The women we meet first in Women Hold Up the Sky is a collective of Ugandans who have been fighting American big oil and the local businessmen colluding with the corporate to turn them out of their homes and build a refinery.
Women in Uganda make up 78% of the workforce producing food, yet on top of their troubles with fighting big greedy corporations they are also unable to own land simply because they are women.
Despite this injustice and the force of big oil, they have resisted and after being evicted from their land they were vindicated and allowed to return.
However, their struggle remains – as they put it – the squirrel against the elephant.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo another group of women are fighting to prevent the government’s plans to build a third dam as part of a huge hydro-electric project.
Part one – Inge 1 was started in 1972 and Inge 2 in the 80s, now the women of Camp Kinshasa are fighting back to prevent Inge 3 after seeing the damage and inequality caused by the first two stages of this project.
The women of the Bundi Valley see the power they generate leaving the Congo to benefit other nations – including South Africa’s own infamous Eskom, which has agreed to buy the power from Inge 3.
The women insist that they want to be part of an energy plan that not only benefits the people of Congo, but does so in a way that is not damaging to the environment.
They rightly ask why solar and wind – neither of which interfere with their way of life are not considered instead.
The final place of resistance in the film takes the viewer to KwaZulu-Natal where the local Fuleni community are fighting coal mining.
This is another tale of lies, greed and profit.
The community tell the filmmakers how their land is not as fecund as it was, as the coal dust settles on their crops, choking them.
The water is dirty and unhealthy, and the land is no longer beautiful and one woman shows the huge structural cracks in her house, caused – she says – by the blasting at the nearby mine.
As expected the deals struck here too were not struck with the communities, but with traditional leaders who have benefited at the expense of the women who love and live on the land.
The film, narrated by Makgathi Makwena, is a harbinger of what awaits us all if we don’t continue (and in some folks’ cases, start) taking a long hard look at the consequences of greed and profit and how we ensure that those consequences are carried by those who create them and not by us all.
It is perhaps as well to remind ourselves that we are not saving the planet, we are saving ourselves.
As Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac’s book, The Future We Choose, points out: “The planet will survive, in changed form no doubt, but it will survive. The question is whether we will be here to witness it.
That’s why climate change is the mother of all issues. This crisis both dwarfs and encompasses any other issue we may care about.”
HOW TO WATCH IT
The ticket booking system opens on Monday, August 17. Tickets are free, but booking is essential as online viewings are limited. Go to encounters.co.za for more