By Jack Gooderidge
It is only within recent memory that environmental films were an exclusive and largely inaccessible form of cinema, available only to the looped-in and the clued-up. These projects, while pioneering, have so often failed to reach across the divide, and galvanise those outside already established circles of activism. But more recently, we’ve felt the boundaries move.
With the climate emergency now the decisive issue of our time, environmental films have become the property of us all, and amongst this backdrop, one recent film in particular has achieved a uniquely broad resonance. Having made the rounds of a number of film festivals this summer, Dia Amida’s Eryngium Proteiflorum is a film of our times.
Eryngium Proteiflorum is Dia Amida’s ode to a rare and beautiful resident of the Mexican mountains. A quiet inhabitant of the volcanic axis, this exquisite flower’s life cycle is an awe-inspiring journey through the seasons. Amida speaks of how she wanted to “make a tribute to the flower that has accompanied [her] on [her] trips through the mountains of Mexico,” and in her film it quickly becomes clear why she is drawn to this magnificent plant, as she begins to detail the Eryngium Proteiflorum’s complex adventure. We watch – and are introduced to – the delicate intricacies of this flower: how it is born; how it spreads; and how, tragically, its life is so often cut short.
At its outset, the film offers us the words of the pre-Hispanic poet Nezahualcoyotl: “Perhaps we came to live in vain?” Amida uses these lines to personify the Eryngium Proteiflorum, helpless against the pernicious actions of humans that seldom consider the irreparable impact of seemingly innocuous actions. In this way, the film the Eryngium Proteiflorum lets out a humble cry for awareness. With characteristic lucidity, Amida explains how “original civilizations were clearer that if we destroy the environment, we are self-destructing”.
The real power behind this film is in its inherent juxtaposition. Amida blind-sides us, by first exposing us to the wildly complex beauty of the Eryngium Proteiflorum, and then presenting us with the destruction of human ignorance and indifference. It is the pure simplicity of our actions that is most jarring, and how easy it would be to save such a wonderful staple of the mountainous environment. “We can just… not pull it out” Amida utters, her clarity and candor really approaching the beating heart of her film. But, as she tells us, it is not her film: “This document is theirs, a tribute that offers us the alternative, to appropriate its beauty without taking it away from its habitat.”
For Amida, “every human has an Eryngium.” Each one of us has something we quietly admire, something of value perhaps not apparent to everyone that sees it, but something too complex and beautiful to be wasted. Amida’s challenge to us? To find it.
*Jack Gooderidge is a freelance researcher and writer covering a variety of topics from art and culture, to politics and social affairs.
Gucci Is Now Entirely Carbon Neutral In Effort To Fight Climate Change
10 Persistent Myths About Climate Change You Should Really Stop Repeating
Goodbye, Burials: Human Composting Is The Way To Go In The Age Of Climate Change