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        • PBS preview version
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        • Production notes
        • Funders/special thanks


Watch a 16-minute version called "That Sinking Feeling" online on PBS's FRONTLINE/World "Rough Cut" series.

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* A portion of proceeds will be donated to the Solar Electric Lighting Fund, a nonprofit organization that reduces global warming by installing solar panels in developing countries.


Al Gore talked about the plight of Pacific Islanders in AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH. Meet them up close in ATLANTIS APPROACHING, a 51-minute documentary that takes a compelling new look at global warming and sustainability through the intriguing (and sometime quirky) lens of an island microcosm.

As the sea slowly rises in a warming world, some residents of the tiny island country of Tuvalu are moving to New Zealand in search of a new future. And rising sea levels are just the beginning of the story in ATLANTIS APPROACHING, by student Academy Award-winning director Elizabeth Pollock. A mythic flounder, dying taro crops, the lingering effects of World War II, island SUVs, and a sobering look at the costs of development await .


Journey into the heart of Polynesia to visit a drowning paradise at ground zero for the global-warming debate: the island country of Tuvalu, the world's fourth-smallest country.

The coral atolls that residents have called home for 2000 years are being threatened by creeping tides, erosion, shifting storm patterns, and salt-water intrusion into their traditional crops.

At the same time, a rising tide of Westernization is taking a toll on the atolls. Environmental problems are growing from increasing amounts of imports and trash; damage still lingers from the American presence here during World War II; overpopulation on the capital island is putting pressure on natural resources; changing diets are contributing to soaring diabetes rates; and a recent deal to license the country's .tv internet extension (note the address of this website) has led to unexpected consequences ...

And now—pushed by fears of rising sea levels, and pulled by the allure of the modern  lifestyle—some people in Tuvalu are starting to leave their islands behind, making a bid through a new immigration program to start over in New Zealand.

Atlantis Approaching is laced with humor and local color, interwoven with scientists and statistics providing a global context for the issues of sustainability that the film raises. Ultimately this is a cautionary tale—because the fragile island environment serves a “canary in the coal mine” for what could be in store for us all on our own island, the Earth.


“The biggest problems—like climate change and the other global environmental threats that go with it—are sometimes the hardest to think about. By zeroing in on the plight of one low-lying Pacific island nation, Elizabeth Pollock gives our planetary challenge a local focus and a human face. Pollock and her team tell a story that is by turns thought-provoking, sad, and funny. A major service.
— John Hart, environmental author, San Francisco

"The DVD worked really well with students. They got it!  Feedback from staff was that it really humanized the climate change issue.  Student feedback was they feel both more aware of global issues and how they relate to their lives, as well as feeling more hopeful about the future. I actually had concerns that a focus on climate change and our huge Australian ecological footprint could tip them towards despair but it didn’t. Many thanks for putting together such a human look at climate change. It's an excellent resource."
— Carmen Stewart, The Making Places Project, Australia


In Amsterdam, Atlantis Approaching screened at the De Balie theater, as the opening feature for an evening of discussions and debate on climate change (Nov. 2006).

• In Hokitika, New Zealand, it played at the Wild Wet Film Festival, a festival that is entirely themed around water (January 2007).

• In Panama, it  was featured in the Fulbright Film Festival at the FAST (Fulbright Academy of Science & Technology) Conference (March 2007).

• In Seattle, it screened at the Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival (March 2007)

• In Santa Cruz, California, it screened at the EarthVision Environmental Film & Video Festival (April 2007).

• In Palmerston North, New Zealand, it screened at the Aotearoa Environmental Film Festival (July 2007) and won an award.

• In Boulder, Colorado,  it screened at the EcoArts Conference 2007 as part of an "Indiginous Perspectives" film festival (Sept. 2007).

• In Athens, Greece, it screened at the Ecocinema International Film Festival (February 2008).

•  In Wairoa, New Zealand, it screened at the Wairoa Maori Film Festival, (June 2008).

• It toured the Greek Islands as part of a traveling Ecocinema film festival (summer 2008).

• In Bangalore, India, it screened in the "Voices from the Waters" International Film Festival (September 2008), and then toured India.

• In Toronto, Canada, it screened in the Planet in Focus Film Festival (October 2008).

• In March and April 2009 it will screen as part of the traveling "Climate Change and Water Film Festival."

• On March 14, it screened at the Pasifika festival in Auckland, New Zealand, in the Creative New Zealand tent.

• In April, it screened in the Florida Keys as part of Sanctuary Friends Reef Week.

• On April 23, it screened as part of Planet for Tomorrow, an environmental screening series in Canada's York Region (just north of Toronto).

Production Notes:

With funding from a Fulbright scholarship and a Sony PD-150 digital camera in hand, Pollock headed out to the far reaches of the Pacific Ocean to produce ATLANTIS APPROACHING, which she directed, produced, shot most of, and edited on a portable laptop editing system, as she shuttled between America, Fiji, Tuvalu, and New Zealand.

She spent a year in the region, having various adventures along the way ... including moving 17 times in one year, getting video equipment past the weight restrictions of tiny planes by wearing most of it, sleeping on a mat on the deck of a local cargo ship to Tuvalu (which was a month late), night fishing for flying fish, catching dengue fever, staying with a local family (talofa Sulami mo Limasene), accidentally sacrificing a radio microphone to the Funafuti lagoon, and undertaking a long quest for a live flounder.

Funders/Special Thanks:

Fulbright/Fulbright New Zealand, Creative New Zealand Screen Innovation
Production Fund, Pacific Pioneer Fund, University of Berkeley's International and
Area Studies Department, University of Auckland, University of the South Pacific ...
and many generous individuals!


Equipment Donated By:
Sony Corp., Avid Technology, Lowel Lighting, Vinten, and Sennheiser.