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Monday, October 26, 2020


(The film will feature on the programme of the European Film Festival which runs from November 12 to 22, 2020)

“I am Greta” offers a slick and sometimes moving insight into what makes this singular young woman tick. (Review by Patrick Compton)

This engaging documentary offers a semi-intimate character profile of the planet’s most famous climate activist, Greta Thunberg. 

The film begins when we see the 15-year-old Swede on a school strike outside the Swedish parliament, conducting a lone vigil as she warns the world about our climate crisis.

Nathan Grossman’s film does not focus on the detail of the arguments Greta uses; that’s not the point of the film. It’s enough for us to know her passionate conclusions as she warns all and sundry about the planet’s imminent descent into climate catastrophe. Rather this is a portrait of the youngster that shifts between her home life (mainly with her dad) and her public duties as the global representative of the young at a succession of climate conferences. 

She is not beloved of all people or politicians, of course. Some patronise her, others are rude and yet others threaten her. For example, we observe the crude jeering of US President Donald Trump and his Fox News flunkies as well as the abuse of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro and some Australian conservatives. Russia’s president Vladimir Putin is more restrained, saying “the world is complex and many Third World nations aspire to the same standard of living as people in Sweden”. 

The film attempts to get inside this shy, determined girl’s head with some fly-on-the-wall observations of her more private moments, such as her anguished musings while on a carbon-free yacht (she doesn’t fly, for obvious reasons) sailing to New York for the Climate Action Summit in 2019. She says: “I know the climate issue is important, but I’m so homesick. I would love to have a regular life at home; I don’t want to do this around the clock.” But, she concludes: “It’s such a responsibility and I feel that I have to take it on.” There are also some glances at her home life, her love for her dogs and pony and her close but sometimes tense relationship with her father who chaperones her around the world. 

The movie details her singular commitment to the climate cause from a young age, perhaps influenced by her having Asperger’s syndrome, and there’s no doubt that her focus on the issue – and her unswerving determination to pursue her goals – is extraordinarily intense for one so young.

Thankfully, Greta is not simply a po-faced fanatic, dressing down the world’s leaders (“how dare you!”) in particular and the older generation in general. It’s good to know that she also has a sense of humour, admitting to French president Emmanuel Macron that she is a “nerd”, and it’s a relief to occasionally see her giggling and laughing with abandon like a typical 15-year-old.

Climate crisis deniers will not, of course, be convinced by this movie, but for the rest of us, I am Greta offers a slick and sometimes moving insight into what makes this singular young woman tick. - Patrick Compton

“I Am Greta” can be seen from November 12 to 22, 2020, on the European Film Festival’s website. Click on the advert to the right of this article or visit