Watch “I am Greta” before it is too late

Courtesy of Anders Hellberg,

By Ellie Armstrong

Election day was approaching when 15-year-old Greta Thunberg sat down outside the Swedish Parliament House in Stockholm, her hometown. Placing a stack of pamphlets under a rock and leaning her sign saying “School Strike for Climate” against the building, she prepared to wait until the pivotal day when voters could choose to start improving climate change.

They did not, but she was ready to work.

“What we are doing now, future generations cannot change,” Thunberg said. “Nothing is happening, so I must do what I can.”

As Thunberg sat in the cold and days went by, young passersby began sitting next to her, asking questions, and picking up pamphlets. Journalists began recording the strike and, eventually, videos of her #FridaysForFuture campaign began circulating. 

“If you deal with crisis in time instead of waiting, the problem won’t get as big,” Thunberg said. “Because if you do that, you come out on the other side, and there it is better.”

It was not long before she was speaking at conferences on climate change all over Europe, meeting the Prime Minister of France and the Pope, connecting with other teenage activists who had been inspired to strike in their own countries, and sailing on wind power to speak at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City. 

“My name is Greta Thunberg,” she said at the beginning of each address. “I come from Sweden, and I want you to panic.”

The now 17 year olds’ latest project is a Hulu documentary narrated entirely by Thunberg, directed by Nathan Grossman, and produced by Fredrik Heinig and Cecilia Nessen. Containing footage of her personal life, travels, and speeches, “I Am Greta” is not only a fascinating portrait of the triumphs and struggles of a young activist, but also a call to action.

While many people know of her cause, the documentary shows her funny, charming personality and strong relationship with her parents, who supported her from day one with the hopes of easing her anxiety and depression. These were worsened by her research on the state of the world and led to selective mutism and an eating disorder.

Much can be learned from Thunberg’s strength: she laughed while reading online comments about how her Asperger’s diagnosis is a “weakness” rather than something that has fueled her cause and pushed onward as politicians called her a “brat” and told her to “wake up, grow up, and shut up.”

Contrasting these comments were the mass displays of support, the chants of “Go Greta! Save the planet!” and the hundreds of people waiting in Manhattan upon her arrival to the UN.

The elegance of the filming style and the beautiful music scored by Rebekka Karijord and Jon Ekstrand let the monumental story tell itself.

The film ended in mixed emotions: Thunberg is still fighting for the environment, or the “living world” as she calls it, and in September of 2019, seven million people went on strike for the climate because of her. But the Paris agreement, which was signed five years ago and promises to improve environmental policy, is not being met. There is still much to do, and “I Am Greta” is sure to inspire you to take a look at yourself and make a change. As Thunberg said at the UN:

“The eyes of all future generations are upon you, and if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you. The world is waking up, and change is coming whether you like it or not.”