Back in March 2019, over 150,000 students across Australia took part in a global strike to demand action on climate change. The School Strike 4 Climate movement was inspired by Greta Thunberg and saw close to one million people in 125 countries take part in a day of unifying protests. Directed by Rob Innes, “Youth On Strike!” takes viewers on the inspiring journey of what it was like for the group of young Aussies planning one of the largest youth-led movements Australia has ever seen.
The film, which began as a web series, is told through a collection of vlogs shot entirely by twelve students as they navigate the unique challenges of strike planning and schoolwork. The vlog format is well-suited and allows the students to express themselves freely without outside influence or probing questions from adults.
It’s their film, their voice, and they’re frustrated they haven’t been listened to sooner.
One of the things “Youth On Strike!” does well is to open the doors to conversation.
The film really hones in on the fact that young people don’t often feel included or listened to by people in power. Doha, a strike organizer in Adelaide, confronts this issue head-on when her organizing efforts are nearly steamrolled by an older party with their own agenda. She and the other youths can be seen as good role models for young and old alike as they remain steadfast and undeterred in vocalizing their beliefs. In an ideal society every voice would be recognized. There are no age requirements to caring about a cause. The School Strike 4 Climate movement should be a wake-up call to politicians that it’s time to welcome new generations into the fold and let them contribute their ideas to discussions and solutions.
Additionally, as a conversation starter, “Youth On Strike!” is a great medium parents and teachers can use to introduce students to the topic of climate change and the importance of advocacy and social action, perhaps even inspiring them to get involved too.
Also worthy of praise is this 49 minute film’s editing.
One might think since there are twelve different students vlogging their experiences that the film would be choppy or difficult to follow. Not so. In fact, it’s commendable how fluently it flows given the relatively short length of each segment. I particularly liked the sequences where the students are each expressing their opinions and they’re woven together seamlessly as a unified expression. It’s lovely and really bridges the notion of individual with movement.
Empowering and reflective, “Youth On Strike!” is a magnetic look at how when ideas turn to action bold outcomes are achievable no matter one’s age.
See “Youth On Strike!” screening March 28th at the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival. For ticket information, visit: cinemanova.com.au.