W.S. Merwin: Even Though the Whole World Is Burning
Directed by Stefan C. Schaefer
Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin has won almost every major poetry prize that exists, including two Pulitzers. His legacy is based not only upon his writings, however, but also the singular form of environmental activism and land stewardship he embodies. Merwin is a vibrant, humorous and challenging subject, and has not been involved in a feature documentary before.
EVEN THOUGH THE WHOLE WORLD IS BURNING is an intimate portrait of a man who is often called a “national treasure.” The film, which is filled with poetry, provides an intimate view of this compassionate man and his dedication to nature. Now in his 89th year, Merwin has dedicated over three decades to preserving and regenerating native plants and palms on a 19-acre site on the north shore of Maui, Hawaii. Called the Merwin Conservancy, the preserve holds one of the most comprehensive private collections of palms in the world. These tangible actions for the environment go hand-in-hand with his poetry, offering important insights for an era marked by environmental degradation, human disconnect with natural processes, and rapid climate change. This film inspires us to create our own action to benefit the environment through our creativity.
A founder of the production companies Cicala Filmworks and Silver Shepherd, Schaefer’s films have premiered and won awards at festivals such as Berlin and SxSW, and have been successfully released theatrically and on TV channels such as PBS, HBO and the Sundance Channel.He has over fifteen feature film credits to his name, among them “My Last Day Without You,” Olaf Johannesson’s “The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela,” and “Arranged.” On these and other projects he’s worked with Academy Award winner Melissa Leo, Ali Larter, Zoe Lister-Jones, Nicole Beharie, Ken Duken, and many more.
Producers: Williams Cole, Stefan Schaefer
Cinematography: Dan Hersey
Editing: Andrew Rice