NOTE: Here is my review from Soda & Telepaths that was posted back on October 4, 2021
In a small village in Malawi, there lives Anita Chitaya, one of the most incredible women you will ever meet. Living in a country being ravaged by the effects of climate change, Anita is on a crusade to not only improve the lives of those in her village by teaching them how to grow food in horrific conditions, turn men into fighters for gender equality and trying to end child hunger, but she plans on trying to save the world by getting Americans to help fight against climate change. Taking a long trip across the USA, Anita meets several farmers, politicians and everyday people in hopes of getting them to join her in saving the planet.
The Ants and the Grasshopper is not even trying to be subtle about its political message and good on it for being as blunt about the problem as it can be. It is going to hammer home the need to fight climate change every chance it can, which is absolutely essential considering that climate change has already done untold damage to places like Malawi and is on the way to doing the same damage to the US, one of the big places that could do something about the crisis.
Every meeting shown during The Ants and the Grasshopper between Anita and the various people hosting her during her trip around America is explicitly about this topic and when faced with climate change denialists you can actually feel the shock that people could deny something so obvious. The film understands that this is not a topic with two sides that deserve equal respect, there is the side of science and the side of being wrong and this film is about making that case and doing what’s needed in order to convince the masses.
On top of talking about climate change, which is the main focus of The Ants and the Grasshopper, this film goes as progressive as it can. Talking about things like the roles of men and women in society, toxic masculinity, racial injustice, female empowerment… basically if a topic has ever pissed off Fox News, it’s brought up here and it’s made about as clear as possible why we should try to fix these systems that’re causing so many problems.
Where The Ants and the Grasshopper excels is in the quiet talks with average farmworkers about what they’re doing in order to try to be sustainable. The ideas presented sound almost upsettingly easy to implement on a mass scale and you can kind of tell everyone involved knows this. One of the families interviewed might provide the most conflict, one where the family isn’t sure on climate change but believe that God will do what he wants and either fix it or not. Seeing Anita and those who are with her just trying to take this in… it’s the kind of conflict you can’t write, it’s powerful as hell.
What’s amazing though is that it’s also so polite, even when you can tell that Anita and those who have come with her are adamantly against what they’re hearing. There are a ton of moments in The Ants and the Grasshopper where you can see the conflict rising but no one ever raises their voice. It’s a conversation, albeit one where the filmmakers are explicitly on one side and aren’t ashamed of it. That calm conversational feeling is powerful, it helps the message come across as kindly as possible while also just being adamant that something needs to be done.
The Ants and the Grasshopper is certainly aware that it needs to convert some of its audience, but it doesn’t hold back either. It’s kind and loving about the message but it has a point of view (one backed by science, for the record) and it’s not ashamed to put every bit of energy it has into sharing that point of view.
The Ants and the Grasshopper is an incredibly important film, the kind that should be shown to everyone as soon as possible so we can get as many people on board with the fight against climate change as we can… if nothing else, Anita and her village don’t deserve to have to deal with the consequences of our inaction.
Viewed as part of the FoodxFilm Festival which goes from September 26th until October 3rd