HALIFAX: A documentary on climate change that includes the village of Little Anse has a new life.

Centering on efforts by the community of Gabarus to lobby the provincial and federal governments to replace an aging seawall, the documentary ONLY 78 also features the struggles of the village of Little Anse against the forces of coastal erosion.

Director, producer, editor, and cinematographer Jawad Mir said the film will start streaming on Apple iTunes on March 1.

He said the process for the documentary started six years ago with film festivals around the country.

“It has been a long process, a long journey which started in 2013,” Mir recalled. “It’s been a long journey and sort of coming to an end. We hope that people now embrace it, especially in Cape Breton and Nova Scotia.”

Mir said the original inspiration for the film came from an article about Gabarus in the Globe and Mail more than six years ago and was driven by a genuine desire to help these people out using the medium of film.

Mir said that although the primary theme of the film is a small villages’ fight against government, ONLY 78 also discusses themes of social acceptance and climate change. Because all levels of government ignored the tiny village of Gabarus (which has only 78 residents) for so long, Mir questioned whether the lives of those people were deemed important by those in charge.

Photo by Jake Boudrot
This wharf in Little Anse was heavily damaged by a storm in January 2009 which brought a mix of gale force winds, rough seas and a dramatic tidal surge.

On several occasions over the past two decades, powerful winter storms – including high seas, gale force winds and powerful tidal surges – breached the breakwater in Little Anse, damaging the community’s wharf and completely flooding the main road.

Mir noted that the case of Little Anse arose during interviews in Gabarus and involves the same struggles hundreds of other coastal communities are facing. Because there are generations connected to these areas, Mir said they need attention and action.

Mir hopes that the documentary will create more awareness of the climate change challenges facing smaller communities and that it will inspire people to fight.

Mir said he also hopes that the efforts of these communities will not be “washed away” by time and indifference.

“I think the impact we had was two-fold,” Mir explained. “Within Cape Breton, it’s sort of given people… hope that… you can achieve something if you put your mind to it.

“It [also] sort of educated people that there’s a world out there in Canada where people are having these issues because of climate change.”

Last year, the makers of the documentary did a Cape Breton road show with a showing at the SAERC auditorium in Port Hawkesbury and at the École Beau-Port auditorium in Arichat.

Mir added hopes to also have the documentary stream on other platforms like Google Play, Amazon and Kanopy and have the documentary available to audiences around the world.

“We are hoping that it gets another life, not just because it’s something that we worked on, but also trying to get that message out,” he added.