We Are Tuvalu

     The goal of this project was to educate a select group of Tuvalu youth to show them how to produce a documentary and operate video equipment. In addition to providing the tools necessary to capture their stories our team took the lead on pursuing worldwide distribution of this documentary. 

The project was lead by Loyola University Documentary professor John Goheen and a team of current Loyola University Chicago students, recent graduates and former students now working as professionals in the filmmaking industry. This team set out to educate and execute a unique film project seldom done. The team served as research assistants, teachers, video documentarians and most of all filmmaking guides to the less experienced Tuvalu youth.

This hand selected group of current and former students traveled to Tuvalu in the summer of 2019.  While there, they served as instructors to Tuvalu youth interested in learning filmmaking and later as partners working along side them as they created this unique, collaborative film project. Through the guidance and direction of Loyola’s students, this group of Tuvalu youth were instructed on the skills needed to operate video equipment necessary to capture and document personal stories  throughout the country as they travel in pursuit of telling the untold story of Tuvalu.

The resulting film, We Are Tuvalu, is a stunning film that offers viewers an opportunity to experience life in one of the world's most remote countries that is dealing with the effects of climate impact.



We Are Tuvalu is a personalized story told by the people of Tuvalu. There is a much greater appreciation of the experiences they are having when they share it with a broader audience through the sights and sounds only a visual medium such as this can deliver. Through their own voice an audience can discover what it is like to be threatened by an imposing environmental threat such as this.

You will learn what this community is thinking and see how their lives are today as they are dealing with a potentially devastating and life-changing transition. You are presented with situations the citizens of Tuvalu are dealing with. The finished film presents a story of what is taking place in Tuvalu as seen through the sights, sounds, dialog, emotion and perspective of the people who live there. It is told in the voices of the people of Tuvalu.


The style of the film is real people in real life situations.  There are no reenactments, no staged scenarios.  It may look part travel show, part adventure show, part science project and part history lesson, but ultimately this film is about how the people of Tuvalu are dealing with a life changing environmental threat to their homeland.



Tuvalu is the kind of place you’ve read about but aren’t likely to ever have the opportunity to visit. With the average elevation less than a few feet above sea level, Tuvalu is under threat due to global warming. Rising seas are tearing apart the fragile islands and land water resources are being ruined by salt water intrusion and wave action. 

Nevertheless, Tuvalu is doing its best to mitigate the effects of climate change. It plans to be the first country to generate 100 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020. There's talk of starting up "climate change tours" to showcase climate adaptation projects funded by foreign aid and to help generate not only awareness but badly needed income to fight back against climate change. 


Over a third of the country’s population is categorized as “youth” …those under the age of 35. Recently, the Tuvalu government launched its national youth policy giving young people a voice in decision-making. After all, they are the ones that are most likely to be directly impacted by this climate catastrophe in the making.               


With the primary fear that climate conditions could be a significant reason for pushing young people to migrate elsewhere, this has a direct effect when it comes to access to land, access to clean water, access to adequate food and so on. So, this is really an issue that will affect the future population. To build resilience towards the issue of climate change young people must be consulted on every part of the process, so they can help make important decisions about life in their own country.