Flying High, Longlist - Planet Positive

Climate Emergency Nightmares

Thessa Meijer


Inspired by a challenge well known to most parents – confronting a child’s nightmare – the films flip the script by transmitting the nightmare onto parents. This horror story is about the climate crisis's urgency and its effects – particularly water scarcity and pollution – and represents a very different approach to NGO advertising. The films are aimed towards millennial parents in high-income markets, featuring a diverse cast of real-life characters who care deeply about the climate change crisis but feel powerless to protect their families from seemingly-unavoidable catastrophe. Overwhelmed by society’s focus on individual responsibility, young mothers and fathers subconsciously live out their worst nightmares — dreaming fitfully of taps empty of water, burning forests and thick, poisonous smog. In contrast, the children in the films provide both comfort and strength. Provocatively overturning parent-child responsibilities, one child says “I don’t want my mumma, or me, to be scared for our futures,” as she strokes her mother’s forehead, visibly concerned. “It’s now or never for world leaders to take action for our futures,” says a small boy.

Thessa Meijer is an award-winning director whose work is characterised by dreamy magical realism with a humorous undertone. Her commercial-debut with Ace & Tate won the first ever Young Director Award at the 2020 ADCN awards – perhaps not surprising to anyone familiar with her successes in the world of fiction. When graduating in 2015 from the HKU University of Arts, she was immediately awarded the Netherlands Film Festival’s Dioraphte Award and a Wildcard from the Netherlands Film Fund. What followed was a mid-length television film, ‘The Day My House Fell’, which screened at several international festivals and got selected for the Debut competition at the Netherlands Film Festival. Her music video ‘Mind Dear’ premiered on Nowness, was shown at SXSW Film Festival and got nominated for a 3FM Award Best Video. SXSW also picked her project ‘HEAT’, a short romantic comedy horror film featuring the acting debut of Dutch influencer Famke Louise, for their 2020 edition. Her first collaboration with HALAL, a project leading to signing the talented director to its commercial roster, was the short film ‘The Walking Fish’. The fantastical tale wowed the 2019 Young Director’s Award jury and earned her the Special Jury Prize and a Gold Screen. It was also awarded the prestigious Grand Prix at the 2019 Ciclope awards. The film was the 2020 Oscars submissions for the Netherlands in the Short Film category and was nominated for a Golden Calf award (Dutch Oscars) to mention some. The film wrapped up an astonishing festival run by releasing online as Vimeo Staff Pick. Most recently Thessa was hand-picked for a prestigious Cinéfondation Festival de Cannes residency, where she began the process of writing her debut feature, VOLCANO GIRL.