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Thank You for the Rain - Film Review (Transitions Film Festival 2018)

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by Marina Marangos (subscribe)
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One man's efforts against Climate Change
Thank You for the Rain
Thank you for the Rain

This is an excellent documentary and if you have to make a choice about which to watch, please do choose this one.This is a beautiful genuine story of commitment and struggle and it has been produced, or should I say co-produced, by the two chief protagonists in the film. Julia Dahr, the Norwegian director, who visits Kenya and meets Kisilu and asks to film him, and Kisilu Musya, who as a condition of allowing Julia to film him, also asks for his own camera.

What this produces is a streamlined story, with such feeling and empathy, that you cannot help but be moved. It starts with a star-filled night and why for one person this might be beautiful, but for another, is a sky full of problems.

Kisilu is the father of seven beautiful children. His wife, Christine, is by his side at all times. Later in the film, the burden of Kisilu's commitment to fighting climate change is her burden and we feel it keenly on her behalf.

Kisilu is a farmer living in a mud hut in a semi-arid area in Kenya. He plants fruit trees as well as cassava and maize to feed his family who are solely dependant on him. Kisilu studied farming techniques and wants to share some of these techniques with his community, but sometimes when he talks to them at church meetings, it's as if they are not listening and this upsets him and energises him at the same time.

The problem is the rain. There should be two rainy seasons but sometimes the rain simply doesn't come. The lack of rain happens more often and then when the storms come, the ferocity of them causes plant destruction and damage to houses and communities and for those who live and depend on the land, this might mean the difference between survival or starvation. Kisilu is in no doubt that part of this problem is climate change, which is impacting on their lives in a big way.

Yet this film is not pity-inducing in any way. Kisilu is a happy person, often laughing and joking with his kids and his wife. He plays with the camera, as do the family, and it is so sweet and engaging to see them glancing at the viewer, as if to ask you whether you are paying attention.

He attributes his good nature to being the son of a drunkard who was a scourge to his family and the community. He wants to be liked and admired for what he does. And he tries so very hard to engage his community with what are small but important steps to counteract climate change.

When he realises that his family is suffering from all his activism, he tries to buy a motorcycle to run as a taxi service to make more income for them. We watch him applying for a loan and being turned down. That is painful for us all.

His Norwegian host takes him to Norway to talk to climate activists there and he is effective in his messages and his approach to the problem. Crowdfunding gives him a motorbike which he then uses to go around to all the various farming groups he supports, spreading good practice and skills to make sure everyone does their bit against climate change. He earns nothing in the process, but trees get planted. He declares himself "readiest" to carry on the challenge he set out for himself as he equates a tree planter to a good parent.

Christine, his wife, though tells us how she is the loser. He is so caught up in his activism that he is no longer available to his family. She sums it up " It's a hard task only for the devoted one".

The struggle is not without its disappointments and we see him concerned that more people don't come to the meetings. This impacts his livelihood directly and he is forced to sell his livestock.
His frustration is evident - "I've planned but not performed. Why are human beings not deciding for their lives, why are they not serious?" he asks despairingly.

The film moves to a different venue as we hear Julia has written to the UN Climate Conference about Kisilu's efforts. He is invited to attend and it is touching and rewarding to see how this Kenyan takes on world leaders, naysayers and other activists. He maintains his wonderful and joyful contact with the children and Christine throughout and returns to Kenya re-energised with a lot to tell the community.

In a space of five years since Julia met him, his community has become more engaged and the fields are producing some surplus, which they can sell. Any money they make goes to paying the school fees for the children.

He is still afraid of what lies ahead because Paris did not deliver a strong agreement, but he is as committed as ever to continuing his programmes of information and action.

One man in Kenya, trying his level - so what is stopping us?
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Where: All over Australia - see programme for details
Your Comment
Marina to me climate change = must see.
by May Cross (score: 3|7660) 1070 days ago
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