Carbon Arc Cinema review: Once You Know

I am the Artistic Director at Carbon Arc Cinema, part of a group of programmers who choose the films we screen. This weekend we’re screening a 4K restoration of Guy Maddin’s 1990 film, Archangel, and a documentary from 2020, largely in French, called Once You Know.

Directed by Emmanuel Cappellin | 104 min | Carbon Arc Cinema 

Bangladesh is the future. That’s the nation seeing the biggest impact from climate change and are adapting faster than anywhere else — thousands of farmers have shifted from rice to fish. But, when the floods and droughts are too intense, people will leave their home countries and move elsewhere. It’s already happening. And since we can’t seem to have a conversation about population control, what can we do?

Filmmaker Emmanuel Cappellin starts from an individual perspective, someone devastated by the lack of action he sees toward the climate crisis, the ways in which the richest countries (including France, his own) continue to drag their feet in reaching climate goals. The film shows his efforts to join with a like-minded community, and to share the perspectives of researchers and scientists — not those who are trying to convince others that the crisis is real: He finds those who are seeing an undeniable change coming, and wondering how human beings will best weather it. Will we come together to manage the collapse or become a world of fortresses, those few in the dry, air-conditioned places and those many in the water and the fire?

The film is sobering, as you’d expect, but it isn’t hopeless. The narrative imagery is thoughtful, occasionally heavy-handed, and mostly powerfully done.  Energy, climate experts and educators such as Jean-Marc Jancovici, Saleemul Huq, and Richard Heinberg offer pathways to possible futures. A lot of it amounts to “strap yourselves in.”

About the author


Carsten Knox is a massive, cheese-eating nerd. In the day he works as a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At night he stares out at the rain-slick streets, watches movies, and writes about what he's seeing.