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(The 2020 Toronto International Film Festival or, TIFF, ran September 10-20 online. Although Hammer to Nail wasn’t granted access to a press pass, we still have been running as much coverage as possible thanks to filmmakers and PR companies who want to see their films reviewed and noticed. Like what you see here on Hammer to Nail? Why not give just $1.00 per month via Patreon to help keep us going?)

For Greta, shaking off celebrity to be heard is a genuine desire as we experience a year in her world with the new documentary I Am Greta. The Hulu Original will premiere on the platform on November 13 but had an advance screening at Toronto International Film Festival this week.

Following climate activist Greta Thunberg as she sits solitary outside of the government building in Sweden until slowly, others joined her to the groundswell of global support in September 2019. The film documents her journey as she demands to be heard. In many ways she has and has not been.

Her quiet demeanor and polite speeches give way for tears and anger as she continues to preach upon deaf ears as politicians ask for selfies and politely applaud her or outright attack her, mostly using ableist slurs to dismiss her due to her Aspergers Syndrome.

Following closely around with the camera, director and cinematographer Nathan Grossman stays close on the young girl as she interacts with family, cameras, media, government leaders, and a growing fanbase. An exasperated father looks on as he tries to parent a strong-willed young woman. She is anxious about eating in front of people, which is slowly unveiled throughout the film as the father struggles to get her a banana and her mother breaks down in tears about it. She speaks openly about other parts of her Asperger’s, including the deep depression she fell into and the selective mutism she experiences.

Meanwhile, Greta calmly responds to ableist questions from journalist with ease. In a striking example, a reporter asks her about suffering from Aspergers, and she retorts only that “I wouldn’t say I suffer from, but I do have Aspergers.”

Showing that she is faithful to her word, Greta and her father take a boat journey across the Atlantic to participate in the 2019 Climate Action Summit at the United Nations in New York.

“I don’t want to be someone who says one thing and does another,” Greta shares with journalists on why she is taking the sailboat to America. “It shows that it is impossible to live a sustainable life today.”

It’s upon arrival at the UN when her calm demeanor finally explodes into anger.

“The world is waking up whether you like it or not,” she shares passionately. After her speech, she helped lead the most massive climate strike in history, with over 7 million people in September 2019.

True to show that the climate crisis is not about one young girl’s fight but a global issue, Grossman ends the film not on Greta but the many other young speakers across the globe fighting for change. An uplifting documentary that shines a light on the crisis and on someone able to see through the politics and get to the point, Greta Thunberg’s story is not meant to inspire us, but to be a call for real action.

– Melanie Addington (@MelAddington)

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Melanie Addington is the Executive Director of Tallgrass Film Association as of 2021. She has worked in the film festival world since 2006, first as a volunteer, and then eventually becoming the Oxford Film Festival Executive Director in August 2015. She used to be a reporter for the Oxford Eagle (a community newspaper) and then Pizza Magazine Quarterly (a global trade magazine). She still loves pizza. And she still writes for Hammer to Nail and Film Festival Today about her other great love: movies. She is from Southern California originally but lived in the South for 20 years. She now resides in Wichita, KS, and has one son.

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