Film review: I am Greta, premiering in South Africa at The European Film Festival 2020

What: I am Greta Genre: Documentary Where: European Film Festival, South Africa 2020 Language: English and Swedish with English subtitlesPremiere: South African premiere When: November 12-22, 2020 Bookings: Running time: 1 hour 37 minutes

I am Greta– a feature documentary is premiering in South Africa, on the 2020 European Film Festival. Films are screening online, although there are some in-person community events. All the films are free to watch with the exception of I am Greta which is being screened as fundraiser to support a climate change charity (R50 a ticket).

Swedish director, Nathan Grossman, shadowed Greta Thunberg, for two years as he made this film about the teenage climate activist.  Thunberg is on the Aspergers spectrum and Grossman captures the way she is seen an aberration by many as she sits quietly with her placard; stoic, resolute. “You should be in school”, she is admonished and she stares back, undeterred. She is driven by creating awareness around Climate Change and that is what she does, irrespective of the heckles from the peanut gallery. Thunburg may have Aspergers – and see things in precise terms – but she is not a “flat” person. I find that this documentary tends to flatten her and does not convey that she is like, behind the Aspergers tag. She is quirky and has a terrific sense of humour as may be evidenced in her recent tweet, directed at Donald Trump, where she chided:So ridiculous. Donald must work on his Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Donald, Chill!.” This was on November 5, 2020, when President Trump (uhhm, he is still the president), tweeted: “STOP THE COUNT!”. Previously on Twitter [December 2019], Trump bollocked Thunburg and advised her to work on her “anger management problem”. He said that she should “go to an old-fashioned movie with a friend”. This was after a peeved Trump objected when Thunberg was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. He missed out to her in getting the nod as Person of the Year. He said that it was “ridiculous” [that she was made Person of the Year ] and she should toss in the activism and watch a film.”

I find that the film, I am Greta flattens out the person, Greta Thunberg. In the film, her father is always there, kibitzing that she is warm and has enough to eat. I think she must be cringing at that. For Greta it is not about her. The Aspergers is important. It is part of who she is but it doesn’t define her. Still, the film is an interesting record of what this remarkable activist has achieved so far. We have seen flashes and fragments in the media and it is good to see her journey projected on screen and follow the trajectory of her activism. Support this fundraiser, by purchasing a ticket.

Leaving the doccie for a moment, it is interesting to note that “the member states participating in the European Film Festival 2020 [South Africa], are signatories to the Paris Agreement. South Africa is a signatory.” It is being said that the USA will join the Paris Agreement, when Donald Trump relinquishes his perch at the White House on January 20, 2021. Hopefully that will happen.  Trump flattened discourse around Climate change – blunted and shredded it with rants of fake news. We need Greta Thunberg, the dynamo to keep disrupting and engaging people globally. On Friday November 13, The European Film Festival SA is hosting a Live Zoom discussion on “climate catastrophe”. It is a “call to action, to all of us”. Access the event at 6pm (CAT – Central African Time). There is a link on the Special Events page on

 “This event is dedicated to the memory of Fikile Ntshangase, the anti-mining activist who was assassinated on 22 October. Ntshangase was the deputy chairperson of the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (Mcejo), which has stood steadfastly against the Tendele Coal Mine’s expansion in the Somkhele village area.”

I am Greta – production credits

? Director: Nathan Grossman

? Features: Malena Ernman, António Guterres, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Greta Thunberg, Svante Thunberg

? Running time: 1 hour 37 mins

? Image credit: Supplied.

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