Small Axe Short Film Reviews by Cole Diment
Total Disaster is a documentary that brings to us the work of Keil Troisi and Molly Gore as they oppose the EACOP (East African Oil Pipeline). They achieve this chiefly through humour and satire in posing as representatives of Total Energie, a French energy company behind the EACOP. Staging a fake press conference, they unveil Rehabitat’s (their fake organisation’s) plan to relocate displaced animal species to France.
The documentary chiefly follows the preparation of the activist stunt. Alongside this the film plays with form and satirisation. My instant recollection turns to the fake Rehabitat promotional video made by the group. The video perfectly captures and parodies Neo-liberal aesthetics of technological progress, replete with the obligatory uplifting minimalist music we have come to associate with all manner of companies from Google to Meta and beyond. Strikingly, these images are contrasted only moments before by direct interviews with people either displaced or intimidated by the pipeline and companies. On one hand we have the stark reality, on the other satire that heightens the dark underside of many self-styled reputable and conscientious companies across the globe.
The activist stunt in itself excellently satirises the position that Western oil companies take in the geo-political arena. The first parody that sticks out is the Noah’s Ark 2.0 that Rehabitat present for the press. Very literally placing their image as that of Noah saving animals outlines their intended socially forward and ecological image. Yet this calls into question: who is God? If the oil pipeline contributes to climate change aren’t a company like Total Energie directly responsible for “the flood”?
Perhaps the most shocking image, the image Troisi and Gore would like seared into all our brains, is the image of the rooster attacking the African hornbill in its cage. The two animals, representing each of the parties of the EACOP (France and East Africa) makes literal the power relation: East Africa, depleted after years of colonial, is submitted and subdued into subservience to Western powers bent on cheap energy resources. Troisi and Gore ask us here, do we truly live in a post-colonial society, or are the politics of Imperialism only fractionally removed in their execution?
Keil and Molly wish to highlight these projects alongside their film. Make sure to check them out!
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Amis de la Terre France:
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