A new film by Georgina Willis, Insect O Cide puts both insects and humans under the microscope. It asks some big questions about why insect populations are declining around the globe, highlighting the role of pesticide companies in this onslaught on these most vital animals.
The film lingers on shots of the broad diversity of insect life on Earth, everything from ants to flies. As we observe these creatures in incredible detail we can begin to empathise with their struggles. “Unfortunately we seem to only value animals that are larger than us like elephants … but these small animals support our life on the planet.” This film brings us up close to these vital but overlooked creatures so that we can meet them eye to eye. The film invites the audience to connect with the insect world in new ways.
Georgina Willis is the film’s director. Also a photographer, her skill is clearly on display in this film. The lighting is minimalist and a combination of colour and black and white shots makes each insect stand out clearly from its environment and brings us in close enough to enjoy the detail of these remarkable creatures. Given how close we get, the animals in this film might almost be giraffes as we look through a carefully placed macro lens.
“We are losing a truly shocking number of insects. If we don’t stop the destruction of their habitat we will become extinct. They are the buildings blocks of our lives.” Currently about one million insects species have been described and catalogued but it is estimated that there are ten times as many insect species on the Earth waiting to be discovered. Unfortunately, insect species are becoming extinct before they are even discovered. We spend more money on space exploration than we do on the exploration of these vitally important animals.
Insects have roamed the planet for 350 million years. They appeared long before dinosaurs and now make up the majority of animal species. They are integral to our lives on Earth. “They are the forgotten animals but they play a fundamental role in the living world,” says Willis.
“If you closely, witness their lives, you feel a bond. It’s quite transformative to be looking at them so closely through the lens. I really felt close to them and realised just how amazing they are. Unfortunately our culture has not valued them for all the great things they quietly do for us.”
In recent years there has been more discussion about the importance of bees but it has not extended to a broader understanding of the full range of insects. Georgina Willis’s new film does much to make it possible to value these animals. It’s an amazingly ambitious film from one of the few female directors to have been selected for Cannes. Insect O Cide will be released early in the new year.