Only rarely does a smile cross her face at public appearances.(Born in 2003) is responsible for the to fight, very deliberately – despite their young age. Director Nathan Grossmann also experienced them in a completely different way during the filming of his documentary: giggling, fooling around and eager to discuss, as girls of puberty are.
The Swedish filmmaker met Greta in Stockholm in 2018. "A friend of mine met the Thunberg family and they told him that Greta was planning a sit-in,because she feels that nobody is doing anything. In Sweden the national elections were coming up and she wanted to show how important this issue is. We stayed in the background thinking we could shoot for a day or two and see what happens. "
A lot on the road when it comes to climate protection: Greta at a protest demo in Bristol / GB (2020)
It turned out quite differently: A lasting friendship developed and in the end a touching and revealing documentary: "I am Greta" (German title: "Ich bin Greta"). It had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Greta couldn't come to Venice in person. But for the press conference she was connected via video from Stockholm.
The short film idea turned into a documentary
It all started with Nathan Grossmann's vague film idea during her first school strike in 2018. 15-year-old Greta – at the time still completely unknown – sits in front of the school in the middle of winter with a hat and gloves and her cardboard sign: she announces "Skolstrejk" for climate protection .
At first she is alone. But more and more people are joining in, asking, stopping out of interest. Nathan Grossmann films everything. He quickly realizes that he has to take the camera off the tripod and sit down with Greta on the floor. This subjective perspective will continue to shape the film.
"After three weeks, she decided to go beyond the election and go on strike every Friday," he says. "Suddenly the movement started spreading to other parts of Sweden, then to Finland and Denmark. We filmed for a month. I decided to work full time for it to see if this was a film about the climate change movement and about Could be Greta. I was just very interested in her personal story. "
Grossmann shot almost everything on his own. As with his other film projects, he likes to do without a larger team in order not to disrupt the processes in front of the camera. "But it's hard to be a director, sound engineer and cameraman rolled into one. The pace of events around Greta was getting faster," he admits. He films Greta at public appearances, is there with the camera during family life, accompanies her on strike actions, witnesses her impressive speeches – and gradually becomes friends with her.
The young filmmaker shares her political stance on climate protection issues, listens to her a lot – this also enabled a closeness to the young protagonist, who makes the Swedish film "I am Greta" an extraordinary documentary. And it becomes clear what Asperger's Syndrome, which she has suffered from since birth, means in everyday life and for her family. In the good: the strong focus on your goals. On bad days: Depression and fear of social contact.
Greta is not afraid to speak to the mighty of the world, here in 2020 at the world economic summit in Davos
Shattering the world: your speech at the UN climate summit
The climax of the shooting was the crossing of the Atlantic with the sailing yacht to bring Greta to New York. She was supposed to give a speech there at the UN climate summit and it is clear that she would not fly out of political conviction. In July 2019, the German professional sailor Boris Herrmann surprisingly offered to take her to New York by ship.
"It was not an easy decision for me to join her on this trip," says director Grossmann in an interview. "It takes a few weeks to sail across the Atlantic to America, and I knew it would be tough. But even though I was afraid to go, I had a strong feeling that the story and the film deserved this sacrifice. "
Director Nathan Grossmann (2nd from left) crossing the Atlantic (back: Greta, right: father Svante Thunberg)
This grueling trip also comes at a high price for Greta. Although her father is there and supports her in everything, she is very homesick. The tightness of the uncomfortable ship is troublesome for her, she is seasick several times. The only thing that helps is skyping with mom and sister. You can see Greta laughing in the film when she can joke in her native Swedish.
"We are still at the beginning"
When the young climate activist saw the finished documentary for the first time, she was initially irritated to see herself during her strikes, radical speeches and everyday family life. During the shooting, she did not even realize that this film – including very private moments – would one day be shown on the huge screen of an international film festival like Venice.
But she likes it: "I think the film gives a realistic picture of me and my daily life," says Greta in an interview for the press campaign. "I hope that everyone who sees him can finally better understand that we young people are not just striking at school for fun. We protest because we have no other choice."
In the film, too, she repeatedly reflects how important it is not to let up now in the global climate protection strike, in which not only schoolchildren and young people are participating ("Parents for Future "," Omas for Future "," Science for Future "): "Of course, a lot has happened since I started the school strike, but unfortunately we are still at the beginning. Real changes and the necessary awareness are nowhere to be seen."
Greta is back to school life
After a one-year break, the 17-year-old has now resumed her normal life in Sweden. Since August she has been attending secondary school at a Stockholm high school. However, with a week late – because they become onehad to go to Berlin with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The Swedish documentary does not ignore the downsides of its worldwide popularity. Everyone in the world knows Greta, she is now as famous as the Pope or Barack Obama, whom she was even allowed to visit in 2019. She has long been exposed to massive hostility on the internet and had to survive numerous shit storms.
In front of Nathan Grossmann's cautious camera, she exchanges ideas with her father, which is another nonsense spread about her on social media. She can laugh heartily about it. But a short time later she seriously reflects on how her mission in terms of climate protection will continue and the future of "#Fridays for Future" could look like.
Film launch on the US streaming market
In this ambitious documentary, Greta appears as if from another planet – far removed from the capitalist market events of the media industry, which now wants to earn a lot of money with her. The main co-producer, the US streaming service Hulu, invested more than 4 million US dollars in the production of "I am Greta", an unimaginable sum by European TV standards.
The world premiere in Venice was followed by the premiere for the North American market. The German premiere is on October 16, 2020, when the film will open in cinemas. German television (ARD) will show the documentary in its regular TV program in November – a promising investment in the future to win back young viewers for public service programs.
In the film, Greta appeals as a courageous advocate for her generation: "All we ask for is that our society treats the climate crisis as a crisis. And gives us a secure future."