24 December 2020: Stuart Rideout, in his award-winning short film, I Wish For You, shares the story of a man who voices his concerns about the world his grandchild will inherit. It follows the story of a woman, played by Maxine Peake (The Theory of Everything), who is moving houses. While unpacking boxes, she finds a long-lost letter from her grandfather, played by Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons (Reversal of Fortune). As she reads the letter, his words evoke strong memories, as he shares his love and concern for the natural world.
The latest offering from the Welsh director garnered prestigious awards, including the Best Environmental Film Award and Best Cinematography Awards at the 2020 Venice Shorts Festival in Los Angeles.
Providing an insight on the motivation behind the film in an exclusive interview with Climate Control Middle East, Rideout said: “I Wish for You forms the cornerstone of the #showthelove campaign run by The Climate Coalition to engage the public on the subject of climate change. The purpose of the film was to engage the viewer on an emotional level and to inspire a broader conversation and get people thinking about the challenges we face from climate change.”
Rideout said that throughout the process, the team had a full understanding that the issue of climate change presents society with a myriad of enormous challenges. “We were very conscious that we didn’t want to overwhelm the viewer or preach at them,” he said. “To my mind, it is vital that the film engaged with its audience and drew their attention to what humanity is doing to the planet and the flora and fauna that keep the ecosystem healthy and functioning.” As such, he said, the script was developed to highlight deforestation and loss of wild habitat, plastic in the oceans, overfishing, declining biodiversity and pollution, touching on the contribution of essential sectors, such as the built-environment.
Rideout also discussed the power of film as a medium, when it comes to increasing awareness on topics that could be perceived as intimidating for most people. “In the right hands, film is an incredibly powerful medium, especially when it comes to informing and educating people,” he said. “If you look at David Attenborough’s Blue Planet – especially the episode on plastics polluting the world’s oceans – this single program inspired a change in human behaviour towards plastics. Eighty per cent of people in the UK changed their attitude to plastic, in that they changed the way they shopped and, in turn, the way supermarkets operated. That’s all down to a wonderful piece of filmic communication, and I think this in itself is a wonderfully evocative and inspirational tool.”
Rideout said that undoubtedly, the issue of climate change is a complex and detailed one with many facets that are filled with nuance. As a director, Rideout said, he aimed to use his skills to “chip away the complexity and distil the communication down into more manageable chunks”. He added: “It’s important that no matter how complex the problem, we make an effort to communicate the issues. Again, engagement is the crucial thing.”
At the end of the idea, Rideout said that he aspired for the film to carry a sense of optimism as it ended. “The promise at the end of the film stems from the idea that Mia is reminded of her grandfather’s love of the natural world, and she’s inspired by it,” he said. “In the face of the huge challenges we face from climate change I hope that the film inspires an audience to take a moment to think about the natural world, about its beauty and majesty. To think about what they love and what they stand to lose. Now is the time to engage with the issue, show how much you care.”