Chasing Coral, Director – Jeff Orlovski

The best movie of the whole week. Jeff Orlovski came to Hot Docs with a film called Chasing Ice which documented the collapse of the world’s glaciers. The current chase is documenting the bleaching of the world’s coral reefs. In both cases we are introduced to the telling signs of climate change and the devastation it will cause even if we were to do what is necessary to cut fossil fuel emissions. This movie like Chasing ice is beautifully filmed as the director and the people who are the focus of the film travel around the world to conduct their research. As well as the films being visually stunning, Orlovski also introduces us to the researchers who have their own story to tell. The combination of cinematography and characters make the films informative and highly engaging.

In Chasing Coral we are given incredible underwater images of reefs in the Caribbean, near Hawaii and on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Using time lapse photography we are shown the terrible damage even small changes in the water affect the health of the reefs and the speed with which it is happening. The problem we have with recognizing how fast climate change is occurring and how fast the damage it causes happens is the difficulty in filming the changes. In this film and in the previous film the researchers have tremendous difficulty collecting the necessary evidence due to the difficult conditions and because they are the first to try to film the changes. The films document that difficulty as well as the ultimate success. Not only are we the viewers stunned with the rapidity of change but so are the researchers. While they express hope that we can stop or reverse the damage, their faces betray their pessimism. They make it clear that this is not just about the decline of glaciers and coral reefs but about how those declines are going to result in more major changes that our society and civilization may not be able to survive. This film and the previous Chasing Ice are important for everyone to see. Chasing Ice is currently available on Netflix and Chasing Coral will also be available later this summer.