I Am Greta: 2020's Most Unique Coming of Age Film


In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, Greta Thunberg silently takes in her surroundings. A year before this moment she sat alone outside the Swedish Parliament with a singular sign painted with "Skolstrejk för Klimatet" (School Strike for the Climate). Thunberg's rise to fame was fast, and seemingly out of nowhere, but, Nathan Grossman's documentary aims to dig deep into the enigmatic face of a movement that has galvanised an entire generation into taking tangible action against global warming. 

"If you can get an education, you can change things," is one of the first of many discerning comments from middle-aged passersby. Grossman so well captures the initial loneliness surrounding Thunberg taking her first steps in action as an activist. "Once you realise the magnitude, you can't look away," is the ethos of which Grossman focused his lens upon - words from Greta, herself, and also an encapsulation of her actions. Her father, Svante, is as supportive a father there could be, affirming his belief in her and showing the power of empowering your child's voice from a young age, where others may patronise and dismiss. 

I Am Greta is not about delving deep into the intricacies of climate change, it is first, and foremost, a coming-of-age story. Grossman has put a humanising lens on someone so young, yet tenacious in enduring the vitriolic language used against her from public figures around the world. She laughs, she dances, has a fantastic sense of humour, but she is also a teenager with anxieties, who argues with her parents and is imperfect. Grossman captures a normal girl launching into the public eye without warning and all the complexities that coincide with that, including the weight of growing up and the things it entails. It is as unique a coming-of-age film that we may ever see. "It's like a movie," are words Greta frequently uses, highlighting the obsession of celebrity culture and the way people are desperate just to be associated with her without taking the time to listen to her voice. 

Her work is serious, Grossman makes sure to showcase that. Her activism isn't sweet. It is all-consuming. She works hard, and she feels the weight of that, and in a rare moment of fragility, echoes to her diary "it's too much for me". She's a spectacle everywhere she goes, crowds cheering, hands reaching, Thunberg cannot blend in with this movement, she is the movement. The overwhelming nature of her work means she must choose between a traditional education or one in the world, where her actions are gaining traction. 

Grossman tracks only a year in her life, from August 2018 to August 2019, culminating in the treacherous journey across the Atlantic by boat to Manhattan where she attends the Climate Summit. Days before that moment, Thunberg achieved top grades in school despite spending the majority of the year campaigning. "I am a nerd," is how she describes herself to President Macron, she is as serious about her studies as she is about her work, wanting to always come from a place of understanding and not presumption. 

I Am Greta is an anthem for the youth of a generation who are going to get left with a wealth of catastrophic issues. There is so much frustration and apathy attached to growing up in a world that is seemingly falling apart each day, and yet, Grossman manages to affirm the importance of perseverance in times of struggle. The world of difference Greta Thunberg's actions had made within a year is astronomical, and a generation is listening and learning from her voice. 

I AM GRETA is released in cinemas now.

More info at https://www.iamgreta.film/

Until next time

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