“Sky, Birds and Sea”

©

6 August 2015

Author and documentary filmmaker, Christophe Cousin is primarily a storyteller. Camera in hand, he came aboard Tara 2 weeks ago. His next film, co-produced by Tara Expeditions and Via Découvertes, conceived for the TV program Thalassa, will recount the Tara-Ecopolaris mission.

Christophe has long been one of the “New Explorers” on Canal+, showing us the life of nomads around the world. “Traveling led me to photography,” he says, “at a time when I wanted to turn my back on a society that didn’t suit me, that was encouraging me to go around the world by bicycle.  After that  experience I wanted to prolong the encounter.”

©N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

What did you know about Tara before boarding?

What vision of Tara did I have? A boat for scientific expeditions whose vocation is to highlight the future of the oceans and their marine ecosystems. I had no notion of the human dimension, and that’s what I was looking for.  Try to put into perspective the connections there may be between scientists  researching  plankton and the sailors who are on the boat all the time and make it move forward.

You’ve been filming the Taranauts for 2 weeks now. What will be the subject of your next documentary?

Last year while I was finishing a film, the production company with which I work, Via Découvertes, offered me a project – a continuation of the previous film. The producers wanted to make a documentary showing the role of the oceans in the climate system.

I must admit that initially the subject was unfamiliar to me. But after exploring it a bit, I felt this was a clear challenge. I’m part of the generation who were told that the “lung” of the planet is the Amazon, which is not necessarily wrong. But it’s not the only lung. Just 6 months ago I learned that the oceans play a role too, and my new awareness made me want to get involved in this project. I’m not a scientist, and I’m the first to be surprised by the subject, but I want to take up the challenge, popularize these ideas, and ensure that viewers fall in love with the Ocean, and with life. This deserves a story!

Everything began at a meeting between Romain Troublé (secretary general of Tara Expeditions) and the production company. We were reflecting on ways to express the relationship uniting “man, sky and  sea.”

Can you tell us something about “Once upon a time the Arctic”, your previous documentary?

I had this film in mind for several years. I wanted to tour the Arctic region, describe the geopolitical issues, but without interviewing politicians or economists, just speaking to the people living there or  traversing the area. The film incorporates 4 stories that echo one another: 150 Chinese millionaires go to the North Pole on the largest nuclear icebreaker in the world; Inuit men go hunting on the sea ice for their survival; Canadian soldiers deploy their force in the northernmost areas of the country; and finally, Nenets in Russia see their transhumance evolving to the rhythm of gas and oil pipelines. The film questions and challenges without judging. Describing the interdependence of ocean and climate  comes as a logical continuation of our goal – to make films that have an impact and real meaning.

N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

I’m aware that it will be difficult to reach a wide audience because ecology sometimes seems far removed from everyday problems. At the same time, the opportunity was too good not to take. The way I want to make this film different from the others by maintaining the human dimension. Science is one thing, but we must not forget that in the midst of all this are humans – their presence on Earth, and their impact. Humans are part of the whole, yet we tend to set them apart. I just returned from making a film in Malaysia with the Badjaus Laut (sea nomads). There’s a lot of talk about marine protected areas as a potential for recreating a dynamic biodiversity, except that people are left out of all this. The Laut Badjaus living from the sea can no longer go to their traditional fishing areas. And here we’re not talking about intensive fishing, we’re talking about a few families who need food.

What are you looking for through these encounters?

In every journey and encounter, in every population we meet and each issue raised, there’s a portion of everyone’s history. Let’s try to understand why we are here, what we’re doing here, where we’re going.  Finally what interests me in this multitude and in their differences is the universality of emotions.

How do you see your work in view of the upcoming climate conference next December?

The climate conference belongs to the people with power in this world, but I think we should all be concerned everyday by the notion of climate. Let’s worry about what we’re doing to the planet, and not just during a special meeting. If the fact that important people come together and manage to change things, so much the better.  But I think that the solution, if one day there is one, will depend on the masses, on large numbers of people rather than an elite.

This is why I think it’s important to communicate about climate, or at least to talk about climate by telling human stories. Because it’s thanks to these stories that we feel concerned, and we will eventually act.

Interview by Noëlie Pansiot

 

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