Lulu DeBoer: Kiribati Filmmaker


Although climate change is real and visible, the subject remains a point of contention in many places across the United States. It’s been a front and center issue on both the global and national stage, and remains a marker of political identity, especially in the East Texas town this young filmmaker grew up in. Now, twenty-six year old Lulu DeBoer is hoping to transform this rhetoric and bring to light the fact that climate change is destroying her mother’s home nation, one island at a time.

Lulu learned about the effects of climate change in the early 2000s from her mother and relatives who were experiencing it first hand in the island nation of Kirabiti (pronounced Keer-ree-bahss). Located in the central Pacific and part of Micronesia, Kirabiti is increasingly vulnerable to climate change. But what could Lulu do to convince her classmates and neighbors that this is real.  

“My high school self said, well there just has to be that one film, that one documentary that everybody will watch. And the truth will be out, and it will be agreed upon. And then ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ came out, and still nobody agreed upon it. Then I realized that there is a cultural gap between Americans and this particular region of the world, and what was really missing from the dialogue was a human interest story.”

So Lulu decided to make a movie, Millennium Island.

After graduating from Stanford with a film degree, she received a grant from ITVS and PIC to go back to Kiribati. There, she spent two years shooting Millennium Island and then returned to Houston in November 2017. Lulu is now editing her film. With a goal for a January 2020 release date, Lulu’s right on track.  

They say that a first film takes about ten years. This is year 9.”


But how does an aspiring filmmaker survive? For Lulu, it’s all about brands. Learning from her film studies peers who expected to get a good job in the industry making money after graduating, Lulu learned that she had to fight for funding. She applied to grants and was awarded many, but to pay the bills she doubles as a mermaid, and has a persona on SexyWetBabes, a wet-look/underwater fetish website that pays her rent. 


The common denominator between all of these passions is of course water. As a young filmmaker documenting the rising sea levels, a Houston mermaid, or Alana on, what makes up 71% of Planet Earth is constantly on her mind.

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Gosia Labno is a photographer and writer based in Chicago. She holds a B.S. in Media and Cinema Studies and an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies. She is working on a collection of short stories chronicling the lives of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Follow.