Thank You For The Rain paints a moving portrait of a family struggling to make ends meet in the harsh Kenyan bush, and through giving its hero his own camera, it makes a powerful statement about how climate change affects the most vulnerable. 

From The Last Animals to Chasing Coral and An Inconvenient Sequel, 2017 has been awash with documentaries about climate change. However none have taken quite as personal an approach as Julia Dahr’s Thank You For The Rain. 

Christina Wayua Kisilu. Photo: Julie Lillesæter. Copyright Banyak Films & Differ Media 2017
Christina Wayua Kisilu. Photo: Julie Lillesæter. Copyright Banyak Films & Differ Media 2017

Five years ago a farmer by the name of Kisilu took it upon himself to record the daily life of his family in their rural village in Kenya. A staunch campaigner for climate change action, the farmer documents the impact of environmental change on his livelihood. From droughts to floods, the audience is welcomed into Kisilu’s family as they suffer the destruction of their homes and search for work.

It was during his filmmaking journey that Kisilu met Julia Dahr, a Norwegian filmmaker, and combined his talent for capturing raw footage with her cinematic eye. The result is a warm and yet stark reflection on the impact of climate change on the world’s most vulnerable people.

Thank you for the rain
Kisilu Musya and Christina Wayua Kisilu. Photo: Julie Lillesæter. Copyright Banyak Films & Differ Media 2017

Kisilu himself is an inspiration. In contrast to ‘Mr Vice-President’, Al Gore, his lowly status and humility makes him a pleasure to watch on the screen as he goes from educating to his family, to orating to his village about the benefits of planting trees, and finally demanding action at the Paris Climate Conference in 2015.

His dedication to his family is truly awe inspiring, as he refuses to leave the village like so many of his peers in search of work, instead hoping to make money as a taxi driver on the side of his farm work to support them and remain a present father and role model.

Dahr’s cinematic shots and powerful narration, coupled with Kisilu’s personal contributions, offer a unique insight into the effects of climate change at ground level as violent storms destroy his family’s home. Yet it’s the ability of his wife, Christina, and their extended family and neighbours to laugh about it that makes the film so watchable. Their in-jokes and wide smiles make for a genuinely endearing presence in the film, and relate the dispassionate and inanimate themes of climate change, from urbanisation to education and climate refugees, to a deeply human level.

The result is a charming documentary that touches the heart and gives encouragement to all who care about the planet we call home. It inspires a deep respect for its hero, Kisilu, who reminds us that one person really can make a difference in the fight against climate change.

Thank You For The Rain is screening on 17 November at Bertha DocHouse. Book tickets here. 

★★★★☆

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