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P.E.I. filmmakers' new film 'Solastalgia' to capture anxiety some people are facing

Filmmakers Millefiore Clarkes, left, and Emma Fugate, shown recently in Charlottetown, are looking forward to creating “Solastalgia”. It will be Fugate’s first film, but Clarkes is known for directing “The Song and the Sorrow” and “Island Green”.
Filmmakers Millefiore Clarkes, left, and Emma Fugate, shown recently in Charlottetown, are looking forward to creating “Solastalgia”. It will be Fugate’s first film, but Clarkes is known for directing “The Song and the Sorrow” and “Island Green”. - Daniel Brown
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

Millefiore Clarkes first experienced solastalgia in 2017.

At the time, she was concerned about the effects of climate change. She watched a documentary about how rising sea temperatures are killing coral reefs.

Afterwards, she had a breakdown.

“I just felt deep sorrow about the whole thing. And guilt and worry.”

She had to talk herself out of it, as she didn’t want to sustain her feeling of hopelessness.

“Part of solastalgia is that sense we have that life always should be safe. But it isn’t,” she said. “You sort of have to take a deep breath and appreciate the moment.”

Solastalgia is the feeling of anxiety caused by environmental change. While floods and wildfires can negatively affect someone’s physical health, the direct and indirect impacts of climate change can also affect someone’s mental health, says a 2017 report by the American Psychological Association.

Clarkes decided to write a short film about it.

Her film, “Solastalgia”, was accepted by the Film 4Ward grant program last year, offered by FilmPEI. The writer/director and her producer, Emma Fugate, are preparing to film next month.

They had a kickstarter to help fund the film, which raised $5,427 of its $5,000 goal. Rebecca Parent, who has played Anne Shirley in several productions of “Anne and Gilbert – The Musical”, will play the short film’s lead role.

The story is about a mother who experiences solastalgia out of concern for her children’s future. It’ll be under 10 minutes, and it’ll feature a poem written by Tanya Davis.

“It’s a little surrealistic,” Clarkes said. “We’re doing some trippy stuff.”

Fugate thinks the film is timely in today’s world. When people look back, climate change will be a defining global problem humankind has had to face, she said.

“It’s unusual for the human species to have something that affects everybody somehow.”

The film’s strength is its exploration of something that affects the world and how it affects people internally, she said, “something that hasn’t really been addressed.”

The filmmakers have high hopes it’ll get people’s attention and maybe even get picked up by climate change organizations like the David Suzuki Foundation, Fugate said.

“That’s the dream.”

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