Tuvalu: This Is My Island - An Environmental Film

Tuvalu: This Is Our Island

A Collaborative Environmental Documentary Like No Other


For thousands of years they’ve inhabited nine small islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that comprise the world’s fourth smallest country. Now, the youth of Tuvalu are forced to do everything they can to keep their country from disappearing. Catastrophic effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels, create a dire crisis for the people of Tuvalu putting a face to those harmed by climate change. As they race to become the first nation utilizing 100% renewable energy sources, they hope to inspire the world to follow… before it’s too late.

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About the documentary film:

The goal of this project is not just to create a traditional documentary about the fight of the people of Tuvalu; but rather, the goal of our project is to work with a select group of Tuvalu youth to first educate them on how to produce a video documentary, operate the tools to do so and finally to work side-by-side assisting them on how to effectively capture their stories. Using Loyola University Chicago current students, recent graduates and former students now working as professionals in the filmmaking industry, in the summer of 2019, we will set out to educate and execute a unique film project in a style that has seldom been done. The team will serve as research assistants, teachers, and video documentarians, but most of all, filmmaking partners to the youth of Tuvalu.

This collaborative film project will seek to amplify the voices of the people of Tuvalu. The people of Tuvalu are disenfranchised as the environmental decisions of other, larger countries -- countries with much larger populations -- are slowly killing their country. Tuvalu’s voice may be smaller than that of other countries, but it does not have any less value than that of larger nations -- so why are people not listening? This documentary will provide opportunity to amplify the voices of the people of Tuvalu in an attempt to help them save their culture and country.

Once completed, we will seek international distribution of this documentary with the intent to provide a voice to the people of Tuvalu to an international audience. The more people who know of the plight of Tuvalu, the greater appreciation for their experiences as they fight for their country’s survival. This documentary will also serve to preserve history, as it’s a very real possibility the culture they’ve known for generations could disappear -- at the very least it won’t be the same if they’re forced to move to another country.

The problem:

Tuvalu is a country not many have heard of, but its natural beauty of shore-lined coconut palms that are surrounded by clear, blue water, is a sight to behold. Located halfway between Australia and Hawaii, the planet's fourth smallest country is already experiencing some of the worst impacts of climate change -- and could soon be on the verge of extinction. 

For thousands of years the Polynesian people who live here have inhabited the country made up of nine small islands -- and they've weathered various climatic threats including cyclones, droughts and weather related issues throughout those years. However, the threats they now face because of man-made climate change are unparalleled. Tuvalu’s less than seven-foot elevation makes the island extremely susceptible to rising seas and deadly storms that have begun to swamp islands, and fears are growing that Tuvalu will be uninhabitable or may vanish entirely within a few decades. According to a report given to the UN General Assembly, there are numerous security implications of climate change for Tuvalu that include loss of geography, food and water scarcity, migration, and culture.
This documentary will focus on the threat that could lead to the loss of an entire culture and will investigate the impacts of climate change on the Tuvalu community. This story will serve as a way to preserve history as it will show the culture of an island that may cease to exist in a few decades. But, it will accomplish much more than that; it will serve to reinforce how climate change is impacting cultures that have been around for thousands of years and the implications of what that could mean for indigenous people throughout the world.

Why this story?

The science has spoken. Climate change is real and is a serious threat. Even so, some politicians and people around the globe write off climate change as a non-issue. The people of Tuvalu are the living example of why climate change cannot be ignored. Their home, their way of life, their culture are all at risk of disappearing. Tuvalu is a story the world needs to hear and see. Tuvalu is the human face to the effects of climate change. If we don’t follow their example, and switch to renewable energies, other countries may be the next to face extinction.

About the Director:

John C.P. Goheen – Director: As one of America’s premier visual storytellers John’s work has been recognized as some of the best in the business. Winning more than 300 local, regional, and national awards. He is the first three-time winner of television’s top award for photojournalism - the National Press Photographers Association’s Television News Photographer of the Year.

During his 38-year career, he has traveled to over 100 countries where he has produced over 100 documentary films on a wide variety of subjects ranging from civil war and famine in Somalia; U.S. military action in the middle east; the eruption of Mt. St. Helens; the Super Bowl; and the grueling Iditarod sled dog race in Alaska. He has produced two documentaries on how global warming has and is impacting the community of Shishmaref, Alaska.

John is a full-time professor at Loyola University Chicago, where he has led dozens of film and media students abroad to such places as Chile, Cuba and Russia.

What we are fundraising for:

We need funding to be able to travel to Tuvalu, pay for lodging, insure our equipment, and edit our film. Loyola University Chicago and Cannon are generously providing equipment to the crew, but we need other costs covered to ensure the people of Tuvalu's important stories are told.

Rewards for Giving:


Any amount of donation in support of this project is tremendously appreciated – no matter how big or small. As a special thank you to our supporters, we want to provide you with something for your contribution:

$50+ --- donate $50 or more and receive a scenic 8x10 photo taken while on this trip of a classic Tuvalu vista signed by the crew.

$100+ --- donate $100 or more and receive scenic 8x10 photo listed above and a calendar featuring original photography of the stunning Tuvaluan landscape taken on the shoot.

$150+ --- donate $150 or more and receive everything listed above and a personalized thank you video from the crew and our Tuvaluan youth partners during the shoot.

$200+ --- donate $200 or more and receive everything listed above and a set of post cards taken by the crew and our Tuvaluan youth partners during the shoot.

$250+ --- donate $250 or more and receive everything listed above and a special “Thank you” in the credits.

$1000 --- donate $1000 or more and receive everything listed above and a copy of the completed film.

$2000 --- donate $2000 or more and receive everything listed above and a “Producer” credit in the film.


Please email any inquires for partnership or questions about the project to Jacob Pieczynski at jpieczynski@luc.edu

Thank you for your generous support!

Follow the story on social media:

Instagram: @tuvaludocumentary

Twitter: @TuvaluFilm 

Facebook: Tuvalu: A Documentary Experience


  • Denise Mattson 
    • $100 
    • 7 mos
  • Jazz Suazo 
    • $10 
    • 11 mos
  • Jill Judge 
    • $50 
    • 11 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $5 
    • 11 mos

Fundraising team (4)

Jacob Pieczynski 
Raised $5 from 1 donation
Chicago, IL
Annie Kate 
Team member
Raised $50 from 1 donation
Kaitlin Elizabeth 
Team member
Jared Wekenman 
Team member
This team raised $110 from 2 other donations.
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