Raj Patel watches while Anita Chitaya and a man shake hands in a field

LBJ School Research Professor Releases Climate Change Documentary

  • Jul 5, 2022

A new documentary film from Research Professor Raj Patel in the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin tells the story of a Malawian farmer and activist trying to save her home from extreme weather caused by climate change.  

A decade in the making from Patel’s first visit to Malawi in 2012, "The Ants and the Grasshopper" follows Anita Chitaya in her effort to convince Americans that climate change is real and already happening. This crusade takes her from Malawi to Oakland to Washington, D.C., traveling through rural/urban divisions as well as schisms of race, class and gender to speak with farmers, climate skeptics and policymakers.  

"This documentary was launched from the recognition that to defeat climate change, we'll need big, transformative change," Patel said in a director's statement. "We asked whether such change as possible, and what it'd look like. We found answers to both those questions. More than that, we were changed in the making of this film." 

Called "charming, infuriating" and "big-hearted" by the New Yorker, the documentary has been well received. The film premiered Memorial Day weekend in Telluride, Colo., at the Mountain Film Festival, where Patel was also named the winner of the 2021 Moving Mountains Award, which honors films focusing on social justice and impact.  

Read more about “The Ants and the Grasshopper” documentary in LBJ News.