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The CMS Vatavaran Film Festival, to be held in New Delhi over five days starting November 2, has prepared a bouquet of more than 100 films from across the globe to raise awareness on environmental and climate change issues

An environmental film being shot in the highlands of Ladakh (Photo by CMS Vatavaran)

An environmental film being shot in the highlands of Ladakh (Photo by CMS Vatavaran)

From the time immemorial, Naga tribes have been conserving a part of forest around their villages where no hunting, fishing and cutting down of old trees was allowed. However, due to overhunting and logging, forests around Sendenyu village in Nagaland with over 400 households became devoid of wild animals and a large chunk of pristine forest, crucial for carbon sequestration, was destroyed. The last bison of the area was killed in 1964.

Now the communities have taken steps to safeguard their forest resources. Land is precious, but despite that the local community donated land to be protected as forestland. Today, in the 16 sq. km of forest, even villagers can’t go without permission. With the newfound protection, biodiversity of the area is flourishing.

The movie is a visual treat and has beautiful landscape shots and showcases beautiful birds and insects of the forest. It also showed how illegal fishing using car batteries is rampant in the region. Fishing with car batteries gives electric shock to all insects, fish and prawns in one go in water bodies. This is now being checked regularly in order to safeguard the forests and its produce on which the people depend. Despite lack of financial crunch, Sendenyu has been silently mitigating climate change.

Rishu Nigam, associate director communications and outreach, the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and executive producer of the film, said, “TERI had been working on the subject of Community Conserved Areas (CCAs) in Nagaland for sometime. We felt it was important to document this story — the journey of communities who transitioned from destroying their forests and wildlife to protecting it voluntarily.”

The movie is a part of the bouquet of environmental films that the CMS Vatavaran Film Festival will be showcasing in Delhi this week. The five-day long festival that is known for creating awareness about the contemporary environmental and climate change issues will show over a hundred national and international films.

Conservation 4 Water

The bi-annual environmental festival that started in 2009 will revolve around the central theme of Conservation 4 Water this year and but there is a major focus on climate change and linkages between climate and water. Through films and discourse it aims to stress on the water struggles in the current climate change discourse and actions.

These 113 films have been handpicked by a jury from nearly 686 film entries that were received across 22 states of India and have made their way into the nominations for the awards.

Several of these films stress on the need for sustainable conservation practices for addressing water issues, climate action, impacts of climate change and sustainable development but there are a few films one must look out for in the climate change category.

Global Warning – Kashmir Chapter is a beautifully shot film and heart wrenching at the same time, especially at places where it shows how due to untimely and erratic snow and rainfall, the farmers of Kashmir are being severely impacted.

The region faces dry spell for almost six months and the timing of snowfall has also changed drastically. Earlier it used to snow in the months of December to first week of March. But now it snows in April right when the cherry orchards just flower which destroys the whole cash crop. Due to this reason saffron and almond cultivation has nearly got wiped out.

The movie follows a tale of an old farmer who was once financially well-settled but now has to take up daily labour work in his dotage as he is no longer able to produce cash crops due to the changing climate. This film also showcases how Kashmir is becoming prone to effects of global warming by well documenting the effect on ice-capped mountains and local practices contributing to environmental degradation and its famous tourism would also be impacted.

Jalal Ud Din Baba, director of the film, told, “It is very challenging to show such an impact. One has to go 16,000-18,000 feet above the sea level and there is lack of oxygen. The biggest problem with Kashmir is that drones are not allowed due to security reasons so you have to cover every peak in flesh, blood and bone in minus 30-40 degree temperatures.”

Poster of a documentary to be shown at the film festival (Photo by CMS Vatavaran)

Poster of a documentary to be shown at the film festival (Photo by CMS Vatavaran)

Another interesting film, titled Living…the Natural Way, chronicles life of Jadav “Molai” Payeng, who won Padma Shri for raising a flourishing forest which is now a forest reserve.

This film chronicles a miraculous and tender process of the creation of a forest by Payeng and showcases how he tended trees on a sandbar of the river Brahmaputra turning that ultimately turned into a forest. It also documents the destruction of the largest river island- Majuli by the influence of climatic forces, on the same river in the same region separated by a physical distance of only three kilometres. It also shows how lives of the communities living in these islands are full of struggle and their traditional way of living has been severely impacted due to forces of climate change and other man-made factors. The gripping film takes a close look in the simplistic life of the green hero about who very little is known.

September Himalayan Floods (Un) Avoidable Deluge showcases horrifying collage of drowned cities, cars flowing in flood waters, sofas and other furniture being pushed out of homes, stranded people and explanations by experts on one of the worst series of floods that the state of Jammu and Kashmir faced in the month of September 2014 that took a toll of 277 lives.

The film is very informative, hair-raising and investigates into the major reasons such as unplanned city construction and poor sewage behind the sudden water rise that occurred at that time.

Whether you are an environment enthusiast, young or old, the festival has something to offer for everyone. There will discussions and presentations, short animation films and products by tribal communities on sale during the festival.

You can visit India’s largest film festival on environmental films from November 2-6, 2017 in Gandhi Smriti and DarshanSamiti, Rajghat, New Delhi. India Climate Dialogue is media partner for the festival. To know more, visit CMS Vatavaran.

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