12 February 2023 | by Helen Frederick
Article by Jess Brooks
This month The Little Green Cinema opened its doors for the third time for a screening of the stunning and sobering film Chasing Coral. SEA volunteers provided an array of delicious home-baking which made up a Vegan Afternoon Tea, greeting guests with refreshments as they mingled and took their seats. At 3:30 the lights went down. We were introduced to the mysterious, complex and symbiotic lives of corals which create cities in the sea providing habitats, feeding grounds and nurseries for all manner of sea-life. Skilful and sensitive photography showed us the underwater bustle of reef-life, as well as the beautiful, mesmerising colours and forms of the corals themselves.
Alongside this tragedy, this film also showed us personal stories of how the love, curiosity and interest of an individual has the power to reveal to the world an entire class of species. We meet the man who, in the 1980s, single-handedly catalogued and classified whole coral ecosystems that were previously mostly undocumented. Today it is the dedication of a handful of individuals documenting the decline of life in coral reefs, that reveals the current breakdown of these ecosystems. These pioneers have inspired people all around the world to document their reefs, to bear witness to the effects climate change is having on life in these usually hidden depths, and to expose those effects to us.
We were so pleased to see how many people came to watch the screening, and how many stayed for the chat afterwards. Films such as this deserve to be absorbed, for us to have time to reflect on them, and to come together to share our feelings about watching them, for the truths they tell us are not always easy to hear. Breaking out into smaller groups to enable easier conversation, Fay and Jo facilitated a thought provoking and engaging discussion covering the issues raised, what we do for the seas, and what we could do to protect them further.
Talk and ideas flowed around the fallibility of sewage alert systems, dangers to swimmers and marine life, and the means and reach of protest. Suggestions for action ranged from a local business environmental ‘star’ system to encourage good environmental behaviour to coordinated protests through all the towns along the coastline.
And perhaps it’s because we’re by the seafront and the riverbank that we have such dedicated litter picking and beach cleaning teams. It was the action most mentioned as something people were already doing or planning to do, and there was nothing but praise and admiration for all those who have already put in their time. But neither the Seaford kelp forest and seagrass planting projects nor the Eastbourne mussel farms were forgotten for their value to the seabed, for habitat creation and the biodiversity it will attract, for carbon sequestration, and for flood protection.
Yet despite all these local concerns and initiatives, it was education that was most recommended in our group discussions. The shock of the film is partly in knowing that its lessons are not more widely known, that too many of us still do not know the importance of the corals and the existential threats they face. It was unanimous: this film should be more widely seen, it should be on curriculums, shown as outreach, and known by policy-makers.
For now, this film is still available to watch on Netflix, so if you are able, we recommend it as essential viewing for all! The Little Green Cinema will be running a season of environmental films on the first Sunday afternoon of every month, complete with afternoon tea and a chat. Please see our events listings for details.
Our next film ‘More Than Honey’ is at 3pm on Sunday 5th March. This award winning documentary discusses the problems and solutions to the world’s declining bee population and what it may mean for modern society. We look forward to seeing you there!