The Hungry Tide
The Hungry Tide
The Hungry Tide
Item#: HUN-953
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Running Time: 53 minutes
Grades 9-Adult
Scene Selection
Closed Captioning
Tom Zubrycki, JOTZ Productions


"Highly Recommended. Imagine losing your country (literally having it disappear), forcing you to live somewhere else. A sobering look at the human side of a compelling environmental issue."
- Video Librarian

"Highly recommended. Compelling... this documentary may serve less as a call to action and more as a last glimpse into a doomed nation and culture — an obituary for a land that global warming destroyed."
– Educational Media Reviews Online

"Recommended. Uses dramatic video footage showing the effects of rising sea levels on the island...(and) shows the frustration of small countries trying to petition a reduction in global fossil fuels emissions."
- Science Books & Films (AAAS)

"The content of this program is sure to fuel classroom discussion and, perhaps, activism on the part of some viewers. Tiimon's story and emotion help elevate this production beyond the typical environmental piece."
- School Library Journal

"The Hungry Tide is many films at once, which makes this an especially valuable classroom resource. Throughout, Maria is a warm and open guide, inviting viewers into her family, her culture, and her struggles."
– Rethinking Schools

"This is a marvelous film, strong in narrative, imagery, argument and character."
– Sylvia Lawson, Inside Story

"For Maria, climate change becomes less an environmental issue than a human-rights issue – a problem of justice. This is the message she takes to the climate-change conference in Copenhagen, where the Kiribati delegation battles to be heard. Tiimon and her team give their talks and perform their dances; they show a short film and brief the journalists but it quickly becomes apparent her people are drowning not only in seawater but in global indifference. Indeed, watching Tiimon and the delegation being ground to dust by the wheels of international diplomacy is one of the more moving parts of the film."
-The Sydney Morning Herald

"The personal encroaches on the political in The Hungry Tide as Maria is torn between her family in Kiribati and her role on the world stage... Reporting the facts is important, but it’s our understanding of the people behind the headlines that can sow the seeds of real engagement—and in the longer term, the possibility of real change."
-Dan Edwards, Real Time Arts


Special Jury Prize, Oceania Documentary Film Festival, Tahiti

Official Selection
International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam
Breath of Fresh Air Film Festival
Documentary Edge Festival, New Zealand



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The central Pacific nation of Kiribati is expected to be one of the first countries to disappear as a result of climate change. Sea level rise and increasing salinity are threatening the homes and lives of 105,000 residents spread over 33 atolls. One of the least developed countries in the world, Kiribati has contributed little to worldwide carbon emissions, yet has the most to lose from global warming.

THE HUNGRY TIDE shows clearly the tragic impact of climate change on Kiribati, and exposes the stark global inequalities driving the global warming phenomenon. The film personalizes the story by following the life and work of Maria Tiimon, who evolves to become one of the most prominent advocates for the rights of Pacific Islanders. Originally from Kiribati, Maria works for an organization in Sydney as an impassioned campaigner for her sinking nation. But right from the start, Maria finds herself frequently torn between the needs of her family on Kiribati and her role on the world stage.

A rather shy Maria travels to the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen to press for a new binding treaty to dramatically reduce greenhouse emissions. ”Industrial countries are causing change in the climate,” she says, ”and we are the first to feel the consequences.” Later, as a more confident advocate, she travels to Cancun for the next Climate Change Conference (COP16).

While Maria’s life and work unfold, the situation in Kiribati deteriorates. Seawalls protecting an entire community are swept away. Only decisive global action will save Kiribati from disappearing. But pledges made at the climate change conferences to cut carbon emissions have fallen far short of their targets. And promises to assist poorer countries to adapt to climate change haven’t materialized. As a result, Kiribati’s President believes that relocation may be the only option. “To plan for the day when you no longer have a country is indeed painful but I think we have to do that.”