3000 Nautical Miles
X Trillion Pieces of Plastic
A life-affirming story of adventure, discovery, science and solidarity.
“We are about as far away from civilisation as one can get. Yet here, all around us, is evidence of our daily lives on land. Our choices. Our purchases. This is your old toothbrush, my empty shampoo bottle, the lid to his coffee cup.” – Michelle Byle, packaging designer
One thousand miles from land. The closest humans orbit above in the space station. A lone boat awakens to calm. Then, a fragment. Followed by a toothbrush, a washing basket, a garden chair. Surface samples bring up handfuls of tiny microplastics. Looking out over the ocean, a few pieces of plastic float visibly in sight. But a realisation dawns – we’re looking at a dense soup of tiny pieces. The crew record an average of half a million pieces of microplastics per square kilometre here, and that is only on the surface. Who knows how much is in the 5000 metres of water beneath.
There are thought to be 500 times more pieces of microplastic in the sea than stars in our galaxy. And every tiny fragment of plastic in the the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has come from somewhere. Some things are so vast, complex and far away that they seem impossible to grasp, and harder to recount. But change is wrought through personal testimony, and heroes are made at sea. X Trillion takes us aboard with the all-women crew of eXXpedition as they sail out of their comfort zone and into the unknown, becoming witnesses to a global problem and emerging transformed.
The scientist. The activist. The circular economist. The designer. From stargazers to slide analysers, impossible problems call on us all. This is the story of a boat of strangers in a vast ocean, cutting a course from despair to hope; through research, discussions and personal journeys. In a crew built of artists, engineers, teachers and thinkers we find a floating model for moving forward.
Embarking upon the adventure with goals and motivations both personal and professional, the crew members tackle extreme emotional and physical challenges. As we get to know our characters on the wild sea, relationships between them develop through the daily rhythms of life aboard. We follow them as they gather scientific data for ten international research projects, witnessing their emotional highs and numbing lows as they uncover explosive truths about the impact of toxics on our bodies – female bodies in particular – and come to terms with the gaping holes in existing research.
This is the 10th eXXpedition mission and its most ambitious yet. With the realisation that there is no silver bullet to solve this monumental problem, the voyages, led by Emily Penn, aim to inspire women from a broad spectrum of professions to dedicate their lives to finding solutions, creating an army of ambassadors to transform our future.
From observational footage of life on board – freezing night shifts, seasickness and solidarity – to sweeping documentation of the wilderness – soaring albatrosses and a pod of miraculous dolphins – X Trillion reframes the exploration narrative to fit a contemporary crisis, where the untouched is untouched no longer. First-hand accounts enable viewers to share in the incredible adventure of the women who sailed right through the most catastrophic environmental disaster created by humans, and to realise just what it will take to emerge at the other side.
Through realisations and revelations, X Trillion tells a story filled with life, magic and a call to action that burns with hope.
ABOUT THE TEAM:
Director: Eleanor Church/Lark Rise Pictures
Eleanor has a solid background in documentary film-making, with a particular focus on environmental subjects, and is perfectly positioned to see this ﬁlm to fruition. Eleanor has been producing documentary films and photo stories for nearly 15 years. With a background in documentary, investigative and creative ﬁlmmaking and photography, the projects that she has worked on have taken her across the UK and the world. Eleanor works on a variety of projects, with a particular interest in stories that focus on society, environment, women, human rights, migration and supply chains.
Her work has been shown on The Guardian, Al Jazeera, the Hufﬁngton Post, the BBC, Spanish national TV, at the US State Department, a number of high proﬁle UN and international meetings, community screenings and ﬁlm festivals (picking up a number of awards and official selections). A number of her films have contributed to policy change - something she is very proud of.
This is Eleanor's first feature-length film.
Producer: Verity Wislocki
With over 15 years experience in ﬁlm and TV, Verity has worked on features directed by Tim Burton, Alfonso Cuarón, Terry Gilliam, Terry George, Anthony Minghella and Yorgos Lanthimos.
Verity is now on a mission to produce excellent stories by bringing together a network of established ﬁlmmakers with fresh, diverse, emerging talent. Verity is a fearless Producer who seeks out intelligent stories and inspiring creative talent. Ahead of establishing Wislocki Films, Verity line produced feature ﬁlm Photo Finish and a number of short ﬁlms including Dad, which won several awards internationally and a nomination at the Sundance Film Festival. She recently produced critically-acclaimed award-winning feature documentary Another News Story (Charlie Phillips called it "a brilliant ﬁlm") which has now appeared in over 30 ﬁlm festivals worldwide, had a limited theatrical release and is now being sold to TV broadcasters.
Verity has just made it onto the long list as Breakthrough Producer at the BIFAs.