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Rising tides: The last generations of Kiribati

For 3,000 years, the Republic of Kiribati has withstood adversities like colonization, slave-poaching, and war. But now, it is pitched in a battle against nature; a battle that it is likely to lose. As the waves beat a path to its door, Kiribati faces the unthinkable. The rising sea is set to annihilate these 33 low-lying islands, eroding Kiribati’s history and culture along its way.


Climate change has become a buzzword for global calamity. But Kiribati (average elevation 2m) faces a sea level increase of 58 cm in the next 75 years. Adopting a unique approach to dealing with this unprecedented danger, Kiribati’s President Anote Tong, aims to migrate the entire nation off the islands to specially purchased and designated lands in Fiji. For a culture defined by its demanding environment, a complete mass migration of more than 100,000 residents to a foreign land will irrevocably transform the I-Kiribati culture.

A glimpse of the same can be found in the documentary Rising Tides: The Last Generations of Kiribati , where filmmakers, William Marks and Micah Baskir, embark on a journey halfway across the Pacific to document and preserve the stories of the proud yet drowning nation of Kiribati. In Marks and Baskir’s maiden expedition to document the transformation of Kiribati, they seek to capture the portraits of three distinct I-Kiribati perspectives as they reflect upon the past and present of the nation while contemplating its uncertain future. With the support of internationally renowned I-Kiribati environmental activists including, Pelenise Alofa of the Climate Action Network, former President Teburoro Tito, and founder/Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Phoenix Island Protected Area (PIPA), Tukabu Teroroko, the two seek to capture this culture on the brink; studies of which have been collated under the project, Kiribati Climate Change .

Rising Tides aims to provide a platform for the I-Kiribati to share their personal stories about living on the front lines of climate change, knowing there is an expiration date on the homeland. These first-hand accounts of the real-life effects of rising sea levels seeks address the impacts of the almost ambiguous concept of climate change for people worldwide.

Harvard University graduate, Marks completed a BS and MS in Biomedical Engineering. His research has included designing low cost medical devices for dialysis patients in poor nations, new filtration systems for biological fluid disposal, and focused ultrasound work for chemical treatment and biological applications across the world. He also co-founded American Aptitude, a non-profit, non-partisan group dedicated to improving and promoting civic education throughout the United States.Marks has long had a focus on public health, and spent much of 2013-14 in India as a Fulbright Scholar designing low-cost medical devices and working to decrease infant and maternal mortality rates. Currently a PhD candidate in Chemical Engineering at the University of Cambridge where he is a Gates Scholar, his research focuses on developing a device to deliver medicines to breastfeeding infants.

An award-winning filmmaker and documentarian, Micah has been working in the film industry for nearly ten years. An AB from Princeton University and MFA from California Institute of the Arts, his films have played across the world. In 2008, he was a featured as a guest at the Sydney Opera House’s “Little Big Shots” Children’s festival in Australia. Micah worked on the WGA-nominated landmark documentaries We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists and The Internet’s Own Boy. He collaborated with acclaimed international video artist Nicole Miller on her last two projects The Borrowers, and Believing is Seeing, a year-long project for LACMA. For the last two seasons, he has worked as a Post Producer on the NBC Late Night show “Last Call with Carson Daly.”

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