A screening of Jennifer Abbott’s acclaimed film The Magnitude of All Things will be followed by an interview and discussion with the director.
“It was grief. I knew it well. And this time it was for the changing world around me.”
When Jennifer Abbott lost her sister to cancer, her sorrow opened her up to the profound gravity of climate breakdown. Abbott’s new documentary The Magnitude of All Things draws intimate parallels between the experiences of grief—both personal and planetary. Stories from the frontlines of climate change merge with recollections from the filmmaker’s childhood on Ontario’s Georgian Bay. What do these stories have in common? The answer, surprisingly, is everything.
This cinematic journey by the Sundance award-winning director (The Corporation) takes us around the world to witness a planet in crisis: from Australia’s catastrophic fires and dying Great Barrier Reef, to the island nation of Kiribati, drowned by rising sea levels. In Nunatsiavut, melting ice permanently alters the landscape, while in the Amazon rainforest, Indigenous people fight a desperate battle against oil and mining extraction.
For the people featured, climate change is not happening in the distant future; it is kicking down the front door, flooding homes, poisoning water and destroying communities. The connection between humanity and the environment is stated plainly by Australia’s Wonnarua Traditional Custodians: “If this land hurts, we hurt.”
Like ash from a distant fire, grief on this scale touches everything. But coming to terms with the brutal reality of climate breakdown requires more than empty words and gestures. When hope is lost, the real work begins. Members of Extinction Rebellion protest in the streets, risking arrest. Greta Thunberg’s school strike grows from a solitary vigil to a mass movement. The Sápara, Wonnarua and Nunatsiavut land defenders hold the line in a life and death struggle. Facing her own mortality, Jennifer’s sister offers another kind of answer: “Just a simple, quiet openness to all that is.” Battles waged, lamentations of loss, and raw testimony coalesce into an extraordinary tapestry, woven together with raw emotion and staggering beauty that transform darkness into light, grief into action.