October 26, 2022

Bigger Than Us

Being in the World: People and the Planet in French and Francophone Cinema
Cowin Auditorium, Teachers College, Broadway and 120th Street
Free and open to all. RSVP required.
Bigger Than Us by Flore Vasseur, 2020, 96 min.

Documentary followed by a discussion and Q&A with Director Flore Vasseur and Francesco Fiondella.

Filmed in Malawi, Lebanon, Brazil, the U.S., Greece, Indonesia and Uganda, Bigger Than Us is a feature-length documentary about seven inspiring teenage and young adult activists engaging, like many in their generation, in a struggle for human rights, freedom of expression, social and environmental justice, women’s rights, access to education and food, and a liveable climate. In Indonesia, Melati leads an effort to fight the plastic pollution ravaging her country. Mohamad is a Syrian refugee who built a school when he was still a teenager himself to teach Syrian refugee children living in temporary camps in Lebanon. Winnie began organizing as a teenager and succeeded in changing the legal marriage age from 15 to 18 in Malawi. Memory bought herself an education by carrying food to her teachers in Uganda and now helps refugee farmers in her country learn permaculture to rehabilitate soils ravaged by chemical pesticides and overuse. Mary rescues migrants crossing the sea from Turkey to Greece. Rene created a newspaper at age 11 in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. Xiuhtezcatl battles against fracking and environmental racism in Colorado on behalf of his ancestors and future generations. All of them set an admirable and inspiring example in their quest to preserve human dignity and protect the natural environment, and to engage passionately in something “bigger than us.”

To watch the trailer please click here

Flore Vasseur is a French novelist, director and producer. An entrepreneur in New York at the age of 24, Flore Vasseur lived through the Internet bubble, September 11 and a capitalist system that was cracking on all sides. Since then, she has written books, articles and television documentaries to understand the end of one world and the emergence of another. Her latest book, What Remains of Our Dreams, is an investigative novel about the little-known real-life story of Aaron Swartz, the child prodigy of code who wanted us to be free, persecuted by the Obama administration. Bigger than Us is her first documentary film.

Francesco Fiondella manages IRI’s communications team and oversees their strategic communications and media relations, and teaches science communication. Fiondella has worked as a science communicator for more than 15 years, using his writing and photography to convey how some of the world’s most vulnerable people struggle with the realities of climate, and what scientists are doing about it. He shared some thoughts about climate communication here. He is especially interested in ways to bring science into the public sphere through collaborations with artists, photographers and other cultural messengers. Follow him on twitter via @fiondella and @climatesociety. His photography portfolio is here. You can find out more about him on francescofiondella.com.

Produced and presented by Columbia Maison Française

With additional support provided by Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Columbia Climate School, Knapp Family Foundation, Paul LeClerc Centennial Fund, Columbia University Institute for Ideas and Imagination, Columbia Global Centers | Paris, Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities, Alliance Program, and European Institute.

Curated by Shanny Peer, Fanny Guex and Clara Wilhelm

Screenings will be introduced or followed by panel discussions with invited scholars and, in some cases, the film directors. All films are subtitled in English.

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