“Water is wealth.” These three words not only define our future, but also our world today, according to the new documentary film “The Great Green Wall” by filmmaker Jared P. Scott. His previous film, “The Age of Consequences,” laid out in visual detail the road map of climate change and all it will and is currently impacting; the devastation permeating every aspect of life. Now, “The Great Green Wall,” the counterpart to his previous film, offers a gorgeously uplifting message giving us hope while it soothes our soul with incredible music from Malian artist Inna Modja.
Scott follows Modja, a majestic singer and songwriter, as she travels across Africa’s Sahel Region, between the Sahara Dessert to the north and the Sudanian Savanna to the south. Over the past decade, this 7000km swath of dessert land is beginning to transform itself back to its original state thanks to committed local inhabitants who are joining a collaborative effort to make a positive difference in the environment. The seemingly simple effort of planting trees then, in turn, gives economic stability as it returns the area’s environmental health. As Modja travels the region, recording songs with other talented artists along the way, she raises awareness and helps inspire the youth in these regions. Speaking with the indigenous people who witness the atrocities that climate change has already created, we see first-hand the impact of damaging our environment. Violence, safety, and en masse exodus are all a result of those who take advantage of poor communities.
What she discovers is at times disturbing; young women are abducted and forced to marry; violence taking over communities and taking advantage of poor situations; and vast migration of young people abandoning their homeland in search of a more prosperous life elsewhere. The “desertification, insecurity, and conflict” of areas such as Modja’s homeland of Mali is unfortunately quite typical, but she finds hope along the way. Witnessing the effects of communities undertaking the planting of trees, it seems that miracles do happen. In a relatively short period of time, these communities prove that taking responsibility of their own futures, being respectful of and understanding Mother Nature, balance can be restored.
The beauty of this film is undeniable with original songs from Modja and Didier Awadi, a pioneer of West African hip hop, and native musician Dakar, the dulcet tones and rhythms reach your soul, emphasizing the beauty of humanity. Modja’s thoughtful conversations directly with you, the viewer, and interviews with other musicians gives this film an intimate feel. We comprehend the strife and begin to ignite hope for our future. Her honesty as she speaks to you and others, sometimes questioning the overwhelming goal of creating a swath of green more than 14,000 miles long, echoes our own thoughts. It’s this sincerity that connects us with her, even though we are tens of thousands of miles away.
As with all of Scott’s documentaries, the amount of information provided is mind-boggling, but not overwhelming. We learn about a previously unknown area, its people, traditions, and cultures. We discover new heroes who reside in everyday environments, sparking a movement that just might save our world.
Scott’s “The Great Green Wall” counter balances his previous film, encouraging us to take responsibility for our future and most importantly plants a seed of hope. The glorious musical overtones throughout the film are the through-lines, uplifting our spirits as we look introspectively to find solutions in our own back yard.