Interview of the Week 45: Pipaluk de Groot, Co-author and protagonist of “Silent Snow”

PipalukDuring our Symposium next Saturday in Zurich we will show “Silent Snow”, a film about the risks of DDT. Pipaluk de Groot, who is co-author and protagonist, will be our guest and also participates in the discussion after the screening. In this interview she shares her experiences during the production phase and after screenings around the world.


How did you and Jan van den Berg, who is director and co-author of the film, meet before the project started?

I read on the Greenlandic news online about the premiere of the short film. I had just moved to the Netherlands and was very interested in seeing a film about my own country, so I actually just contacted Jan and he invited me to the premiere. After that we kept contact and he asked me to take part in the project of the feature length documentary of “Silent Snow” – and of course I couldn’t say no to this offer.


What were the challenges or special moments during the production phase?

A big challenge was to get off from my current job, but actually they gave me unpaid leave so I could travel with Jan one week a month. This meant that we had to film in small steps, but as you can see it did work out. We did have many special moments during filming – I think one specific part was sleeping on the ice in Greenland. This was a great experience! How often do you get this opportunity? I woke up to the sound of pieces of ice breaking of a nearby glacier, that was just an amazing sound. I have slept under the sky in Greenland before and in other countries, but this experience on the ice beats it all.


What are the key messages of the films, the short version and the documentary?

The short version raised awareness about the global problem of pollution which affects us all. The feature length documentary goes more into details of the same threat by talking to people from all around the world who are fighting for a better life and a better, cleaner world. For me travelling with “Silent Snow” taught me so much, not just about other cultures but also that we can all make a difference. This is our shared world and as also stated in the film: Pollution respects no country borders. A polluting plant will not only affect the vicinity but will spread to other countries as well. This makes it clear that we all need to take action.


What reactions from the audience do you observe during or after the screenings?

I see many different reactions which also depend on where the screening takes place: One scene shows a dead seal being cut open and the reaction in Paris was people closing their eyes, whereas the indigenous audience in Costa Rica weren’t impressed by this sight. I am very proud of my heritage and I do respect people’s reactions, but the suburban consumers often don’t think about meat coming from a real animal. Often after the screenings people thank me for my work and this is very positive. It’s great to learn that all of us can make a difference and that so many people are willing to do their part.

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