Meanwhile, in Glasgow, it’s time for climate change conference Cop 26, and world-luminaries are travelling or zooming in to my home city to try and form some kind of consensus on what we’re doing to our home planet. That consensus has proved elusive; many companies and individuals have a lot invested in maintaining the status quo, particularly with a pandemic ranging, and while saving the planet might seem like an obvious, non-political rallying point, it’ll take a paradigm shift in terms of thinking to reverse a negative trend.
Perhaps a question of tense is important; are we preparing for a disaster, or is the disaster already here? Step forward Sting, who has produced a short animated film with the UN Refugee Council and Maya Sanbar entitled Footsteps on the Wind. Making use of Sting’s song Inshallah, it’s the story of a family whose house is uprooted by ridiculously inclement weather. Dropped underwater, then surfacing in disarray, the two children (Noor and Josef) seek a way to safety, turning the rags which once connected them to their parents into a mode of transport to the safe havens that nature provides.
While there’s an inevitable degree of resistance to the do-gooding antics of pop stars, it’s worth noting that this is no fad for Sting, whose concern with social problems, from the environmental issues to Latin-American politics, goes back to his Dream of the Blue Turtles album, realised back when I was still at school (1985). Sting’s concern with environmental issues wasn’t fashionable back then, but it’s hard not to conclude that he called these issues correctly back then, and is still using his fame to positive effect.
Directed by Maya Sanbar, Gustavo Leal and Faga Melo, Footsteps on the Wind had its premiere screening at the Serpentine Gallery in London earlier this week, and this film should prove to be a useful online resource in the future. Beautifully animated in a style that recalls but doesn’t ape Studio Ghibli, it’s a simple, compassionate film that spells out the obvious dangers of our current trajectory but doesn’t hold back on conveying a hopeful message. The word Inshallah means ‘if God is willing, then it shall come to pass’, and this well-told, emotive film about the human cost of our malfeasance in the form of treatment of refugees should help get the message across that our society can only be judged by how we treat our children.