Carteret IslandsIn the Carteret Islands, Papua New Guinea, a rise in sea level is cutting off people’s supplies of fresh water and fertile land. The islands’ residents will be among the first people to be forced to migrate due to climate change.Photo by Toby Parkinson for Oxfam AmericaYou like media that matters — you are reading Grist after all — so check out the Media That Matters film festival. It’s an online screening of shorts about pressing social issues, and this year the winner of the MTM jury award is a documentary on some of the first climate change refugees.

The Next Wave” by Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger follows the Carteret islanders as they take steps to relocate their community, which is located on an atoll off the Pacific island of New Guinea (see a map of the Carterets). The islanders need to move because rising sea levels have polluted their fresh water wells with salt water. High tides flood more and more of the islands, and erosion is a growing problem.

This eight-minute film follows some of the Carterets as they travel to Tinputz on the nearby island of Bougainville to investigate relocation on the “mainland” (Bougainville is about two-thirds the size of Connecticut). According to the film, this is their third attempt at relocation.

Warning to Grist readers: this film is earnest. Very earnest. And it leans heavily toward lamenting the loss of the Carterets’ cultural identity. But its message is loud and clear: climate change is real. Rising sea levels are going to displace a lot of people, and the aftermath is going to be much harder to deal with than we presently expect.

Redfearn is also working on a feature-length film, “Sun Come Up,” on the Carterets. Find out more on the Redfearn’s blog at the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting Web site. Dan Box is also documenting the Carterets’ migration on his blog and for BBC Radio 4.

Below is a video report Redfearn produced for the Pulitzer Center: