We are living in a plastic age and the solutions may seem glaringly obvious, so why aren’t all 7.6 billion of us already doing things differently? Shocking statistics don’t guarantee effective change. So what’s the alternative? American photographer and filmmaker Chris Jordan believes the focus should be on forcing people to have a stronger emotional engagement with the problems plastic causes. His famous photographs of dead albatross chicks and the colourful plastic they have ingested serve as a blunt reminder that the planet is in a state of emergency.
While making his feature-length film Albatross, Jordan considered Picasso’s approach: “The role of the artist is to respect you, help you connect more deeply, and then leave it up to you to decide how to behave.”
Most nature documentaries devote their final few minutes to hopeful solutions, but Jordan avoids this. He simply shines a light on the crisis facing the huge colonies of Laysan albatrosses on the remote Pacific island of Midway. “There’s something so archetypal about these legendary birds and seeing bright colours of ocean plastic against dead sterility is a powerful symbol for our human culture right now. We’re in a state of emotional bankruptcy,” says Jordan.
“This material lasts forever, yet we throw it away after a single use. But it’s not as simple as inspiring individuals to make small changes. We have to acknowledge that individuals cannot make a difference,” Jordan says. “When 100 million people decide to do something differently, THAT is when real change happens.”
Anna Turns, The Guardian
ALBATROSS is an adult film with strong emotional content, so we recommend it for viewers age 12 and above.
ALBATROSS is shaped like a meditation or a poem, requiring a particular kind of deep audience engagement.
A primary intention of ALBATROSS is to delve into feelings of a kind that we might usually tend to avoid. This film looks deeply into sadness, grief, beauty, and love, in ways that can feel uncomfortable. But as director Chris Jordan likes to say, that is the whole intention: when we allow ourselves to feel our sadness for what is being lost in our world, then we connect with the part of ourselves that loves our world. In this way, coming to know the true nature of grief can be a liberating experience. When grief is no longer seen as a “bad” feeling, then it can be embraced as a portal to deeper connection with life.
On a remote atoll in the North Pacific Ocean, albatross chicks are dying, their bodies filled with plastic.
Using spare narration and stunning imagery, "Albatross" unflinchingly shows the horror of this tragedy, while ultimately bringing us to a deeply felt experience of beauty and love for life on Earth.
Both elegy and warning, the film explores the interconnectedness of species, with the albatross on Midway as a mirror of our humanity.