Program Detail

There Once Was An Island

Briar March / USA / 2010 / 57 min / English / Color


Al Gore’s Academy Award-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, cautioned millions on the devastating effects of global warming. For the Takū people, who live on a small atoll off the coast of Papua New Guinea, such effects are no longer conjecture, but reality. Briar March’s beautifully shot new documentary, There Once Was an Island, follows the Takū as they confront the heartbreaking option of either remaining on an island that may soon disappear, or leaving their homeland and way of life for good.

Isolated for centuries, the Takū have retained their cultural traditions of sharing resources equally, and are the last in the world to practice their Polynesian religion. This isolation leaves them suspicious of a government that promises them a resettlement plan in the face of rising tides, yet responds so slowly during times of crisis. Focused on three main characters, the film captures intimate family discussions and community debates, from those who have already fled to elders who say they will “die with the island.”

While Island does not propose solutions, the film reminds us that our personal and political decisions reverberate across the sea to small island communities like Takū. As one scientist observes, this atoll that sits just 3 feet above sea level “is their world, and their world is being destroyed.”

-Robynn Takayama

Co-presenter: Green Film Festival (3/9), Asian Pacific Environmental Network (3/15)


  • Director: Briar March
  • Executive Producer: Annie Goldson
  • Producer: Lyn Collie
  • Cinematographer: Briar March
  • Editor: Prisca Bouchet
  • Sound: Jeffrey Holdaway


March 9, 2012 5:00 pm
Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
Tickets not currently on sale

March 15, 2012 7:00 pm
Pacific Film Archive Theater
Tickets not currently on sale


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