Meeting with Emmanuel Cappellin, the director of “Once you know”, a documentary in the form of an alarm signal to make spectators aware of the ecological disaster that is looming.
DashFUN: Where did you get the urge to realize Once you know?
Emmanuel Cappellin: Since a very young age, I have been animated or haunted – depending on the day! – by an impossible question: “Are we capable of self-regulation, not at the level of the individual or of a small group because localized examples abound to demonstrate it, but as a biological species that has become a geological force, a power? planetary? “. This is something completely new in our history. I belong to the generation that sees the human project coming up against physical limits that until now were thought unattainable, in particular with energy and the climate. I think it was this need to explore our collective confrontation to the limit that led me to realize Once You Know But it took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that deep down it was in a personal, subjective, and one-sided way that I wanted to explore. I started writing in 2012 but the idea for the film probably dates back to 2009. At the time, I was doing interviews for a documentary project on the first climate refugees. To explain the climatic mechanisms at work behind the often difficult experiences that these “refugees” told me, I also met scientists. The meeting with Charlie Veron, a specialist in corals in northern Australia, struck me. Instead of an objective talk about the situation, I discovered a distraught man and a deeply affected family. Charlie and his wife were studying an ecosystem that is disappearing with the acidification of the oceans caused by climate change. They had stopped talking about the climate in front of their 10-year-old son who was having depressions. Their 14-year-old daughter left high school saying, “What’s the use, no future?” “. I felt that this family, whose experience resonated strongly with me, was like a pair of binoculars that allowed me to see into the future and imagine what many other people might experience. as their expert knowledge spread. Would their eco-anxiety and their commitment become much more widespread social phenomena as awareness of climate impacts and their implications came back to us with great blows of scientific reports and lived catastrophes?
Throughout the film, you meet climate specialists, intellectuals who have modeled the chaos that threatens us … What encounters have moved you the most?
Each meeting was decisive. To make the film of course. But also for my life. Jean-marc Jancovici brings the necessary lucidity to the situation. Richard Heinberg allows us to feel sadness and mourn what is already lost. Saleemul Huq brings us back into the fight, fueled by healthy anger and a thirst for justice. Like Pablo Servigne, Susanne Moser plunges us both behind the psychological scenes of the internal conflict that all this development gives rise to and in the political expression of this conflict by encouraging us to reconsider the mechanics and the horizons of social change. I am very attached to all these protagonists – inevitably, after these years of filming them. Also because they gave me a lot by giving me their trust and gradually giving themselves up to me. But it is no coincidence that the film ends with the portrait of Susanne – an IPCC expert on vulnerability and adaptation to climate. From our first meeting in 2014, I identified very strongly with her, her background and the questions she chose to explore in her work. She was like a kind of happy and elusive alter-ego to me.
Two pitfalls threaten the militant documentary, particularly the environmental documentary: the cold observation and the torrent of emotions. You avoided both. How did you find the balance?
Thank you ! I take this question as a real compliment because finding that balance has been a real concern during the 8 years it took to make the film. If a balance has been found – it will be for the public to judge – I owe it to my endless discussions with many people including the producer of the film Clarisse Barreau and in particular the chief editor Anne-Marie Sangla who wrote and made the film in collaboration with me. Every time I told him: “I don’t give a damn about the scientific findings on the climate, …