Venice 2020: 'I Am Greta' is an Emotional, Inspiring Portrait of a Hero
by Alex Billington
September 4, 2020
"I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet, you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!" Yes - preach! We all know who she is, we've all seen her speeches. Greta Thunberg is an inspirational hero, a passionate activist and defender of this beautiful planet we all live on. I Am Greta is a new documentary profile of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, marking the feature directorial debut of filmmaker Nathan Grossman. It's an emotional, intimate, gratifying doc film following closely her rise to power the last few years. A stirring story of hope - hope in younger generations. The film doesn't necessarily bring anything new to the table, Greta has already been doing her best to make everyone aware of what's going on with our planet, but it is still a deeply satisfying watch. It really moved me to tears.
Grossman's film I Am Greta opens with a shot of her sitting on the sailboat crossing the Atlantic in 2019 to get to the UN conference. Greta's voiceover reveals that it all feels like a dream, these past few years, and this shot is perfectly evocative of that feeling. Massive ocean waves crash behind her as she sits emotionless, pensive, unsure of what's next. For her or for the planet. But there's such power and such beauty in this opening shot alone. Mother Earth's might crashing all around her, unstoppable in its force, a stark and vital reminder of what she's fighting for - this floating rock we call Earth. All this beauty. Everything that we can't control is important, because we need to change what we can control: ourselves. And ultimately that is what her fight is about, and that's what the film is about - her story of speaking up about these things that matter.
Whenever I'm enjoying a personal portrait doc film like this, and I start to think critically about it, one of the thoughts that comes to mind is – why don't they dig deeper into this topic, or ask more questions about this? But ultimately, when I think more about this particular film, it's unnecessary. This is a film about Greta Thunberg, this is a film about her and who she is. Yes, she does blatantly call out the inaction and all the false promises that politicians have made. But that's a part of her activism, she's willing to speak truth to power. I did wish the film went on a bit longer at the end exploring how not much has changed despite these massive marches and strikes she has inspired. But I also feel like it would've taken the focus away from her, and away from the feelings of hope she invigorates. She's authentic, and that is increasingly rare nowadays.
Watching documentaries like this I just can't help exclaim my thoughts as soon as it's over. I'm just so deeply inspired to speak up and speak out. It makes me want to get out and do more! It makes me want to stand up for what I believe in. It makes me want to keep fighting, keep "going on" with important issues (the Pope's words to Greta in one clip were: "keep going on!"), no matter what people say or accuse me of. Even if the least I can do is bring attention to the film in hopes that it will continue to support them and their fight. That's something. And perhaps that is the most I can do in my position, but if someone else then goes and watches this film and is inspired by her, even better. It's her courage and her passion that is so inspiring - I think it's wonderful to connect with her in that way. I really believe she can, and has, changed the world.
Alex's Venice 2020 Rating: 8 out of 10
Follow Alex on Twitter - @firstshowing