Science and cinema: Raising environmental awareness using film
The 9th Science Film Festival was inaugurated on 15 November 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand. The Goethe-Institut is the leading organiser, together with the Ministry of Education and the National Science Museum. IUCN is one of the partners of this annual festival, under its Mekong Water Dialogues (MWD) project.
First launched in 2005 as a local initiative, the Science Film Festival has in five years’ time grown to encompass the wider ASEAN region. This regional event now has a viewership of more than 370,000 people. With the Film Festival’s theme of energy and sustainable development; ecology and environment are genres which are of great interest.
Supported by IUCN’s MWD project, the film “Mekong” was selected for screening this year. Directed by Douglas Varchol, it has been produced with support from IUCN, the CGIAR Challenge Programme for Water and Food (CWPF), and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). The film raises concerns of how sustainable development in the Mekong region can be reconciled with rising economic growth and growing demands for energy.
H.E. Rolf Schulze, the German Ambassador to Thailand, says “This Film Festival is timely as UN climate change deliberations are ongoing in Warsaw, Poland. At this time, a most unfortunate calamity has struck the Philippines which urges us all to think of the important links between dramatic climate change and human actions. This Film Festival can facilitate solutions from within our societies.”
During the opening ceremony held in Bangkok, the internationally acclaimed film “Chasing Ice” was screened. It is about photographer James Balog’s mission to gather visible evidence of climatic changes on our planet. Soon after his first trip to Iceland, the photographer embarked on a daring mission called the “Extreme Ice Survey”. Together with his team, Balog set up revolutionary time-lapse cameras throughout the Arctic to capture a multi-year record of some of the Earth’s changing glaciers on film.
In this context, the role of individuals as change agents was strongly highlighted, with their potential to positively impact policy and practice in sustainable directions. Mr Manop Issaree, Vice President of the National Science Museum Thailand, comments “Now is the time to involve the next generation to consider changes in our habits in production and use of energy. This is a world responsibility demanding international cooperation, as sustainable energy can save the world for future generations.”
The youth are a focal audience for the Science Film Festival that aims to bring science-based knowledge to young people and the wider public through the engaging visual medium of films. By showcasing such cinema, the objective is to facilitate the creation of a “science culture”, which brings daily life closer to science thereby appealing to a wider audience. This creates public awareness about the importance of scientific learning and facilitates a more positive attitude towards the sciences – be they physical sciences or those which are environment-based.
By Ria Sen