We need to say sorry to the land

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Photo I took in Newtok pointed in the direction of the Bering Sea

You will read about this over and over from others, but I might as well share the same story.

For the past five days, I have been saying we are talking about issues that can be very personal to the people here, but we had no emotion in any of the interviews. None. Everyone has been very stoic.

Then, this morning, we got a call from a college student named Nelson that we had been interested in interviewing. He had worked on a film about climate change and we hoped he could give us a perspective from a younger generation. Because of the responses form younger people in previous films, we weren’t extraordinarily optimistic, or anything. Still, we wanted to interview Nelson.

When the call came, it was a call basically telling us the interview wouldn’t happen. His boss didn’t want him to leave and he couldn’t interview at the time we had scheduled and couldn’t meet tomorrow (our last day here). I talked to his boss, Eileen, and tried to explain why we were so interested in talking to him and promised it would not be a long interview. She said the only way it could happen is if we “did it now.” So I told John we had to do it “now” and we rushed an impromptu group to the interview. Usually we have a student conduct the interview, but I told John he should do it with such short notice. I ended up throwing in some questions, as well.

Nico, Haley, Hannah, Leah, Tony, and Erin did an amazing job of getting everything together in less than 10 minutes, and we set up quickly in a horrible dark room with no expectations we would get anything great, let alone good.

Then Nelson started to talk.

His answers to every question were great. We kept getting more and more excited about how well the interview was going. I told Nico, “I was assembling the film in my head as Nelson was talking.” I mean, his answers were so perfect and I knew what footage we already had.

Then Nelson did something extraordinary.

At one point, I said in between questions, “You are going to bring a tear to my eye. Your reposes are amazing.” A few minutes later, I actually started to tear up. John was directly below me, and he told me he started to tear up. Nelson already seemed emotional, but then started tearing up, himself, and choked out his response: “We need to say sorry to the land… we need to find a way to be forgiven by the land.”

I turned to Hannah, who was in tears, and I just about lost it.

Nelson did something even more extraordinary.

He just delivered us our film.

9 thoughts on “We need to say sorry to the land

  1. Tim, I think I just teared up a little just reading about this interview. God, I’m excited to see what you guys have been up to…..

  2. Really Great!!!! Looking forward to Seeing it!! Thanks for going there and doing this…& then, Please Never Forget that you DID THIS!!

  3. Wow, these are all great posts, but yours made me tear up, too. I can’t wait to see the finished product.

  4. With every blog I read, I can tell this is going to be an impressive, real, and important film- not to mention absolutely beautiful from the pictures I have seen. Thanks for putting your heart into your work, Tim- it really shows. Can’t wait to see it!

  5. I’m sorry and so thankful to the land! It provides so much! Everything, really. I’m so happy that Nelson provided what you needed for the film!

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