3 Jul 2018

Kiribati criticism of 'Anote's Ark' political - film director

4:50 pm on 3 July 2018

The person behind the movie Anote's Ark says the Kiribati government's criticism of his climate change documentary is based on political differences and is part of a crack down on media freedom.

Anote's Ark is being shown internationally, heavily promoted by the former Kiribati president and climate change campaigner Anote Tong.

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Photo: OB Archives All rights reserved!

The government claims the film does not follow ethical standards, saying footage of other countries was used misleadingly, local people were not given the opportunity to share their side of the story and it was offensive to claim that Kiribati will be sinking and drowning in 30 or 50 years.

Filmmaker Matthieu Rytz said the claims are unfounded and he had worked well with the previous administration.

However he said the current government has cracked down on media access.

"They are already chasing all journalists and filmmakers and researchers out from their country so now they just don't like the fact that the movie is getting very big and screening everywhere," Mr Rytz said.

"It was screening in Auckland like a month ago so they are trying any way to stop the process of showing that movie."

Matthieu Rytz said the new approach was seen in the aftermath of the Butiraoi ferry disaster when foreign journalists were sent home.

Kiribati - figure at shoreline

Photo: RNZ

Mr Rytz, said the government in Kiribati does not believe that climate change is caused by human beings.

"The new government is basically trying to destroy every single policy that Anote Tong has been putting together. And one of the things is that if you accept that people have to move away from Kiribati to migrate to New Zealand you accept climate change as a real issue and they don't want it," said Matthieu Rytz.

Mr Rytz said he was arrested in Kiribati in January while screening Anote's Ark and his laptop and projector were confiscated.

Kiribati -  protecting homes from rising waters.

Kiribati - protecting homes from rising waters. Photo: UNDP/ Sheryl Ho

Mr Rytz said he escaped detention and fled to Nauru before attending the Sundance Film Festival in the United States.

He said that freedom of expression and media freedom in Kiribati were being curtailed by the government.