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TIMELINE – Bath Spa University

TIMELINE: an environmental film

Can we still create the world through our own actions, or are we out of time?

The project

As a climate activist for most of her adult life, Sara Penryn Jones has acted on the belief that the future could be chosen or changed. Such hope has begun to feel like a far-fetched notion in an increasingly strange, post-normal world. In TIMELINE, Sara crafts a narrative from her own footage over seven years of activism. It starts at the climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009, journeys through Greenland’s melting landscapes with scientists, then to the low-lying nation, Kiribati, facing whole-scale displacement of their entire population because of sea level rise. In her own hometown in Wales, Aberystwyth is hit by extreme weather unknown to most locals. There is a broken telescope on the promenade, and a dead sheep on the beach, but the community rallies, with buckets and spades.

TIMELINE is a 30-minute documentary that asks: can we still create the world through our own actions, or are we out of time?

Thematically, TIMELINE can be contextualised comparatively alongside a body of mainstream environmental and climate change documentaries, such as 'An Inconvenient Truth', 'Age of Stupid', 'Flow', 'After the Flood' or 'How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change’' This comparison becomes particularly rich when considered alongside the creative, political and feminist capabilities of the experimental film or film essay. By bringing the environmental documentary into dialogue with more meandering, self-reflexive, elusive and playful forms, Jones attempts to create a new kind of language for eco-feminist filmmaking. This could advance a more nuanced understanding of what constitutes an environmental film, as well as generally drawing attention to the often-invisible workings of film. Such work is of relevance to film and media practice, but also geography, gender studies, and the environmental humanities.

In terms of film content, the dwelling on the connection between heritage, cultural identity and climate change in TIMELINE meant that it was of value - and therefore partly funded - as research that also significantly advances the field of heritage studies.

Read Sara’s full journal article about TIMELINE in Screenworks, the peer-reviewed online publication of practice research in film and screen media.

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