Al Sidr environmental film festival returns to Manarat Al Saadiyat
Efforts to improve the health of the planet can often have unintended and frustrating ramifications.
By trying to move away from plastic bags, we have triggered what is known as the cotton tote bag crisis. Production of electric cars has increased at the expense of the world’s salt pans, which are mined for lithium. Metal straws, bamboo forks, and mason jars may seem like eco-friendly alternatives to plastic, but they also have a big environmental impact.
This sustainability paradox serves as the theme for the second Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival, to be held in Manarat Al Saadiyat from February 24-27.
The theme was named Oasis Paradox to reflect regional environmental issues. The festival seeks to find peace with the ambivalence that accompanies the fight against the climate crisis as well as various environmental and social issues.
“When you think of oases, it’s this pristine idea that it’s a refuge of trees and water, a green part in an empty desert,” says Nezar Andary, artistic director of the Film Festival. environment of Al Sidr. “But sometimes it’s also the place of other problems, such as disease or cash crops.”
“When you look at the history of the environmental movement, this paradox of the oasis is similar with the electric car and the lithium battery, or it can be the other way around, for example, to restart Al Ain Oasis, they had to use desalinated water These paradoxes are part of what I call “ecological consciousness”.
Andary says the paradox doesn’t necessarily need to be interpreted negatively, but rather should help us see our relationship with nature with a more nuanced perspective. The films at the festival, he says, bring this to light.
“Every movie has that in mind,” he says.
The festival will showcase a diverse range of feature and short films and will open with the 2016 award-winning documentary Honey, rain and dust directed by Nujoom Al Ghanem. The film follows three honey experts in the United Arab Emirates as they try to keep working amid a growing bee crisis.
Other documentaries shown at the festival include I am Greta by Fredrik Heining and Cecilia Nessen, which follows the rise of climate change activist Greta Thunberg, as well as the 1982 environmental film Koyaanisqatsi, an eye-opening visual and sonic classic that reveals just how far we’ve come from nature.
The festival also includes two fiction films, the award-winning Lebanese film Costa Brava, Lebanon, directed by Mounia Akil, and Sons of monarchs, directed by Alexis Gambis, professor at New York University in Abu Dhabi.
It also features invisible demonsa film presented at Cannes by the Indian author Rahul Jain, and will end with Tame the gardena Georgian film by director Salome Jashi.
The festival is co-organized by Zayed University and the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi and is supported by Adnoc and the British Council.
“We set out to provoke audiences with films that ask tough questions, release emotions and raise environmental awareness,” Andary said.
“In our second edition, we aim to inspire the local community to imagine, feel and create more in our relationship with the environment. The Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival educates and entertains while providing a unique experience for film buffs and those with a passion for the environment.
Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary General of the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency, said media and visual arts are essential tools in tackling environmental issues because they have the power to “move people and to induce behavioral changes”.
“To highlight positive and impactful environmental work, the development of documentaries and films is essential,” she said.
“Both are powerful mediums that can raise awareness on meaningful and important topics, such as climate change, pollution, biodiversity loss and nature degradation, to name a few.
“The number of environmental challenges facing the world today is growing rapidly and events such as the Al Sidr Film Festival help shine a light on these challenges in a dynamic, engaging and informative way.”
Part of the Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival’s mission is to bring the local community together and mobilize action on important environmental and social issues.
The festival features academic roundtables, featuring biologists and political scientists as well as artists who will address a range of topics, including the politics behind protecting the planet and the links between humanity and the environment.
As with the inaugural 2020 event, the festival will also hold virtual screenings of a selection of films at a number of schools in Abu Dhabi to engage young minds and engage students in dialogue on climate change and the environment.
Dr. Justin Thomas, psychologist, writer and associate professor at Zayed University, will also discuss the link between climate change and psychological grief. And environmental studies students from Zayed University will present panel discussions aligned with the topics and themes of the films.
“With our second edition, we are delighted to make the Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival a permanent tradition in Abu Dhabi,” said Fares Howari, Dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Humanities at Zayed University.
“[We] aim to bring together environmental science and sustainability among diverse communities in the United Arab Emirates. We promote awareness of climate change and forge new relationships between the humanities, the arts and the sciences.
Updated: February 12, 2022, 8:17 a.m.