EARTH: MUTED is a documentary film set in a valley of China, where farmers try to feed on an ecosystem on the verge of collapse. The wild pollinating insects have gone extinct due to the overuse of pesticides. We follow three families:

The pear grower Cao and his family live and work in the valley, where they now have to pollinate all trees by hand. Most of the year, the beekeepers Che and Zhang flee the valley to places where their bees will survive, and they are therefore forced to live thousands of kilometres away from their daughter, Jingjing. The cherry farmer, Ye, lives high up on one side of the valley with his children and parents, where wild pollinators still exist. Cao, Jingjing’s parents and Ye are shown in relation to nature and its shifting seasons.

The film tells the story of three human fates in the middle of an alarming environmental problem.

The Hanyuan valley in China is not unique. There are more places where pollinators will not survive. Almond fields in California. Cocoa plantation in Ghana. All over the world the pollinators are diminishing.
Mikael Kristersson, director
"The Hanyuan valley in China allowed us to better understand this fragile relationship between nature and humans, by examining humans’ connection to local ecosystem. At the initial observation, it’s difficult to see that nature is in a crisis; In spring the valley becomes a blossoming paradise but underneath its beauty holds the omen of a dangerous future where biodiversity is under severe threat."

Read the statement here

Why do we tell this story?

It all began when Film and Tells’ founder, Oscar Hedin, saw a picture in a news article that caught his attention. The picture showed people climbing up a tree, poking at flowers with long sticks. The people in the picture did the insect’s job; they were human pollinators. Oscar always had a significant engagement concerning issues where humans and the environment come into conflict.  Immediately, a desire arose to find out more about these people: what do their lives look like, and what is it like to live in an ecological collapse?  

Oscar reached out to the nature filmmaker, Mikael Kristersson, and they connected through their mutual desire to tell a story about the complex relationship between humanity and nature in the valley of Hanyuan. They formed a creative team that was to be strengthened with Åsa Ekman.  

After adequate planning and researching, Mikael travelled to China. Once at the airport in Sichuan provincial capital Chengdu, Mikael met with field producer and interpreter Yu Ma, who attended all Mikael’s excursions in China. The first four-month-long and eventful stay in Sichuan had begun. Traveling and working as a lone westerner with an interpreter proved to be a successful concept. In this way, they came very close with the three families in the film.
Mikael Kristersson, director
"Perhaps the most intense experience would be the train journey along the Yellow River, 100 miles North of China. Yu Ma and I made this journey with little Jingjing and her grandmother to the beekeeping parents, Che and Zhang, who set up camp for the summer with their 250 beehives in a non-poisonous area far away from home. This Journey clarified the complex issue with young children in China, who needs to grow up with their grandparents instead of their parents. As well as the ecological disaster that has reduced the number of pollinating insects, due to the many years of pesticide use in 'fruit'-grower districts."  

We can create a better world
– Will you join?

The knowledge about our planet’s complex ecosystem is expanding with a vertiginous speed. As our knowledge increases it enables us to influence, change and prevent destructive development. Book a workshop with your local association, county, or workplace.

Our workshops are formed around unique film material from Earth: Muted. You will get a unique insight into what a world without bees would be like, and what we risk encountering if we do not act quickly and altogether. The purpose of our workshops is to initiate or accelerate an already evoked work towards a more sustainable food production that has fewer negative impacts on pollinators and biodiversity.
Åsa Ekman, director
and Head of Documentary at Film and Tell
"I hope that the film will contribute to necessary change in the agriculture, that today threatens both biodiversity and food supply worldwide.”

Become our partner

ADo you work for a company or organization that wants to partake in the work for a more sustainable food production? A valley in China may seem far away, but the fact is that a large part of the products we buy in grocery stores are produced under similar conditions. We import large quantities of fruit and vegetables where the control of pesticides is non-existent, which affects humans and the environment. Both where the product is produced and where it is consumed. We want to be a positive force in trying to reverse this development.We believe in cross-border partnerships to achieve maximum change. The more societal actors that agree on a common goal, the more impact we can have. We welcome collaborations and would love to hear from you!

Contact Strategic Partnership Manager, Mikael Geitner, for a conversation about how we can work together.
Mikael Geitner
Strategic Partnership Manager
+46 704 24 10 54
EARTH: MUTED work towards UN’s global sustainability goal:

Our films


Title: Earth: Muted
Length: 70 minutes
Language: Mandarin
Subtitles: Swedish and English
Year: 2021
Premiere: September 24th 2021
If you want to book or arrange a screening of the feature, contact us..


Title: Earth: Muted
52  / 58 minutes
Language: Mandarin
Subtitles: Swedish, English, French and German
Premiere: 2021
Broadcast on SVT in Sweden during December 2021 and on ARTE France in France and Germany during 2022. Contact us if you want to know more.


Title: Earth: Muted
– Jingjng’s Story
12 minuter
Language: Mandarin
Subtitles: Svenska och engelska
Premiere: 2020
The film travelled at film festivals, and we’ve done a workshop-series together with The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation. Contact us if you would like to know more.


Mikael Kristersson
Åsa Ekman
Oscar Hedin
Earth: Muted is directed by Mikael Kristersson, Åsa Ekman and Oscar Hedin Hetteberg.

Mikael Kristersson has directed several theatrically released documentary features, which have received critical acclaim, including commendation from Marin Scorsese. Mikael has won several prizes, for instance Marsielles international film festival (FIDMarseille). His films have been nominated for a Guldbagge and Kristersson has also been nominated as the Swedish contribution to the Nordic Council Film Prize.  

Åsa Ekman and Oscar Hedin Hetteberg has collaborated creatively many times. Together they created the two documentaries My Life My Lesson and Say Something, about children experiencing domestic violence – features winning the Swedish Kristallen prize two years in a row. The two films has been a foundation in Film and Tells initiative SEE THE CHILDREN which has delivered film screenings for over 25 000 people and a catalyzer in ensuring Sweden to get the new Child Peace Act in place. Previously Ekman has won Best Swedish Film at Gothenburg International Film Festival and Hedin Hetteberg has been nominated for a Guldbagge (Best Documentary).  

Directors’ intention

One-third of our food depends on pollinators to grow, pollinating insects such as bees. But all too often we forget the fundamental contribution these insects bring to humanity. Now we can see how the numbers are rapidly dwindling because of human intervention, which puts the entire ecosystem at risk. The Hanyuan valley in China allowed us to better understand this fragile relationship, between nature and humans, by examining humans’ connection to the local ecosystem. At the initial observation, it’s difficult to see that nature is in a crisis; during spring the valley becomes a blossoming paradise but underneath its beauty is an ecosystem slowly collapsing where biodiversity is under severe threat.

We follow Cao, Ye, and Jingjing’s parents and their daily routines as farmers, season after season. The three families have a shared motivation, to create a financial condition that gives their children a better future.

We started from the human perspective of contemporary environmental problems, trying to understand the painful reality where the choice of a sustainable production is far from simple for small-scale farmers. The risk of losing the harvest is too imminent when pesticides are not used.
Here we are amid dilemmas and motivation of Cao, Ye, and Jingjing’s parents to fight for a better future for their families; dilemmas like many of us face at some point in life.

In three destinies, in one place, within a limited disturbed ecosystem, we think a complex issue can be captured. Each one is affected by the pollination. We believe the Hanyuan valley can tell us about the challenges of the global biosphere.

– Mikael Kristersson, Åsa Ekman & Oscar Hedin


Film and Tell’s vision are to contribute to a better world. We drive positive social change with qualitative documentaries, creative distribution, and clever impact. We call our method Real Stories. Real Change.

Based on real stories and together with our partners we create lasting initiatives for positive social change. Together we’ve contributed to impact in several previous and ongoing project, in areas such as children’s’ rights, rare deceases, and integration.
Illustrations: Jenny Svenberg Bunnel
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Mikael Kristersson filming in Hanyuan