Elemental tells the story of three individuals united by their deep connection with nature and driven to confront some of the most pressing ecological challenges of our time.
The film follows Rajendra Singh, an Indian government official gone rogue, on a 40-day pilgrimage down India’s once pristine Ganges river, now polluted and dying. Facing community opposition and personal doubts, Singh works to shut down factories, halt construction of dams, and rouse the Indian public to treat their sacred “Mother Ganga” with respect. Across the globe in northern Canada, Eriel Deranger mounts her own “David and Goliath” struggle against the world’s largest industrial development, the Tar Sands, an oil deposit larger than the state of Florida. A young mother and native Denè, Deranger struggles with family challenges while campaigning tirelessly against the Tar Sands and its proposed 2,000-mile Keystone XL Pipeline, which are destroying Indigenous communities and threatening an entire continent.
And in Australia, inventor and entrepreneur Jay Harman searches for investors willing to risk millions on his conviction that nature’s own systems hold the key to our world’s ecological problems. Harman finds his inspiration in the natural world’s profound architecture and creates a revolutionary device that he believes can slow down global warming, but will it work?
Separated by continents yet sharing an unwavering commitment to protecting nature, the characters in this story are complex, flawed, postmodern heroes for whom stemming the tide of environmental destruction fades in and out of view – part mirage, part miracle.
Sherlock Holmes, the endearing British detective who always solved the mystery, would tell his less astute sidekick how he came to his conclusion: “It’s elemental, dear Watson.” This film has nothing to do with Sherlock Holmes—but the message of how the three people profiled in this film protect the natural elements echoes Holmes’ message: they go back to basics.
Beautifully rendered with stunning visuals, the film seamlessly weaves three stories of eco-warriors—just ordinary people, really—on three continents, each of whom has given their life over to protecting an elemental cause: water, air, and earth. An Indian water official has gone rogue on a lifelong pilgrimage to clean up “Mother Ganga,” the Ganges and its tributaries; an indigenous activist in northern Canada struggles against the world’s largest industrial development, the Tar Sands; and an inventor in Australia
searches for investors willing to risk millions on his revolutionary device based on nature’s own systems, which he believes holds the key to reversing global climate change.
No talking heads here, this film is as much about the environnmentalists as it is about the environment: the fragility of the elements is mirrored in the fragility of their lives, and we get an intimate view of each, with breathtaking cinematography and heart-wrenching candor. And although separated by continents, their shared passion for stemming the tide of environmental destruction follows a similar trajectory typical of many modern-day heroes: there is no happy ending yet, but each small victory fuels hope that a more compassionate and sustainable ending is in our grasp.
This masterful and engaging documentary takes a fresh look at the untenable conditions of the planet, and of three people who not only care about it, but also persevere through the day-to-day obstacles to do something about it.
Extraordinary documentary about real people who are making an impact on critical environmental issues that affecting the health of their communities. The film offers sobering footage of the tar sands feeding the Keystone XL pipeline - an area bigger that England & Wales, and the complex trade-offs between having a job to feed your family, and doing it in an industry that is slowly killing you and your children with the toxic effluent.
Sensitively crafted and an important wake-up call.