Point of view: A film festival on the politics of environment

Between February 16 to 18, 2007, the Point of View film festival screened 13 powerful films on the politics of environment at the Prasad’s preview theatre. The festival was organised by the Hyderabad Documentary Circle, a small group of filmmakers and viewers that regularly organises film screenings in the city. Magic Lantern Foundation and ECOMOVE International contributed to the festival with films.

The Festival Note

‘Point of View’ as it was aptly called, was a film festival with special focus on environment and politics, the festival made an attempt to place forward a different point of view on the state and status of environment. The festival started on the 16th of February and continued till 18th February at the Prasad Theatre.

The Prasad Theatre located at Banjara Hills in Hyderabad, was a space with amazing capacities. The theatre boosts of Dolby sound system, excellent projection quality combined with excellent seating spaces. There are around 150 seating strength in the theatre, with more spaces in between, if at any point of time we went houseful. The theatre is parallel with any cinema theatre in any city, actually the spaces are far more better from many. It will be correct to say the experience of watching cinema, left you with a similar, maybe better feeling here.

This film festival was made possible by coming together of the Hyderabad Film Club and Hyderabad Documentary Circle along with Magic Lantern Foundation and ECOMOVE (from Germany). The Hyderabad film club is an thirty years old group, and the documentary circle is an group from emerged from it.

Everyday the film festival ran for three hours, the screening would start at 6 in the evening and continue till 9 in the night. Usually our audiences came in much before the screening started and some stayed on after the films for extensive discussions on some of the films. One the first day we had approximately 100 people for the total three hours, but by the third day we had a houseful. One felt the word of the festival might have spread around as with each passing day the numbers kept increasing in the audience.

The first day started with introduction to the film festival and the idea and concept behind it, followed by an introduction to Under Construction (UC). Out of the 13 films screened at the festival 8 films were from the UC list, 1 from ECOMOVE, and the rest by independent filmmakers. Each film was followed by a small discussion and an open space for comments on the film. Amongst the films screened from UC list was also Ms. Gargi Sen’s ‘Goa Under Siege’, who was present for discussion after her film. Many interesting comments, for and against tourism came up from the audience, in the discussion following the screening.

UC had set up space for display of its films (attached 3 stills), where the films on display were on rotation, to give each an equal space. There was a lot of interest generated for each film. The audience were very keen to know about most of the films. This festival was UC’s first step and interaction in person with Hyderabad :) & which proved to be a positive experience.

The films

Day one: 16/02/2007
GREEN GOLD (fight of a lone woman against a toxic dump – Kyoto Politics)
Dir: Heidi Bachram, South Africa, 29 minutes

RESTLESS SHORES (fisher folk livelihoods affected by prawn exports)
Dir: Noel Rajesh, India, 20 minutes

1000 DAYS AND A DREAM (Anti-Coca Cola Struggle and the people behind it)
Dir: P. Baburaj and C. Saratchandran, India, 75 minutes

THE ONE TREE PROJECT (waste of wood in chipping industry)
Dir: Shivani Jean Cameron, Australia, 24 minutes

Day Two: 17/02/2007
LIFE RUNNING OUT OF CONTROL (horrors of genetic engineering)
Dir: Bertram Verhaag, Germany, 58 minutes

HUNTING DOWN WATER (On the politics of water supply and ground water extraction)
Dir: Sanjay Barnela and Vasant Saberwal, India, 32 minutes

DOWNWIND: DEPLETED URANIUM WEAPONS IN THE AGE OF VIRTUAL WAR
Dir: Jawed Metni, USA, 50 minutes

A GREEN AGONY (Climate change effect on Sunderbans)
Dir: Geeta Singh, India, 26 minutes

Day three: 18/02/2007
RIVER TAMING MANTRAS (The politics/scams of flood control in Eastern India)
Dir: Sanjay Barnela and Vasant Saberwal, India, 38 minutes

WASTE AS DEVELOPMENT AID (politics of waste dumping)
Dir: Joost De Haas, The Netherlands, 25 minutes

GOA UNDER SIEGE (impact of the tourism industry on local ecology)
Dir: Gargi Sen, India, 30 minutes

SUITS & SAVAGES: WHY THE WORLD BANK WON’T SAVE THE WORLD
(Truths behind the Global Environment Fund)
Dir: Zoe Young & Dylan Howitt, UK, 38 minutes

TUNIN TECHNOLOGY TO ECOLOGY (a film about a veggie oil driven car)
Dir: Izzy Brown, Australia, 15 minutes

Note from the organisers

A note from the organisers

I had participated in the environmental film festival, ‘Quotes from the Earth’ organized by Toxics Link at New Delhi. We thought of bringing that festival to Hyderabad. However, due to the costs involved in bringing it here, we dropped the idea. But why should festivals be such expensive affairs; was the thought that bothered us. When our desire is to bring quality films for the purpose of initiating a public debate then such festivals have to be more accessible to all people, and there need not be a huge cost involved in doing such a thing.

So, at The Hyderabad Film Club Documentary Circle, we decided to do a no fringes event. As we checked out the films and contacted filmmakers, the Magic Lantern Foundation and Goethe Institute, a whole new list of films emerged: both Indian and International. In fact, the kind of films that were more in tune with what the original thought was to bring films on environment, that discuss the politics behind it. Thus, we gave it a new name, Point of View.

Not another environmental film festival, one would say. So, what is the difference? I find more often, the not so mainstream and controversial subjects are not really given a place with in ‘official’ festivals on environment. There is a need to think beyond deforestation, beyond, wild life conservation. There is a need to look critically at our role as individuals in the larger makings of the environmental politics; dig out the skeletons behind various seemingly harmless initiatives of the powers that be. And that should be done with no strings attached. Thus, Point of View has taken shape to bring you these alternate voices, the untold stories on the politics of environment. Untold, in Hyderabad that is. Most of these films had enjoyed wide viewership and appreciation elsewhere in India and abroad.

Why politics of environment? I think environment is a political issue, though it is not considered so, in mainstream politics. Issues like nuclear weapons are considered ‘Holy Cow’. They seem to be a necessity. But there is a need to bring them out of secrecy, and look at their validity in the context of the daily deaths that happen on battlefield and elsewhere from exposure to radioactive materials. As the populations grow and resources deplete, there is a grab for natural resources, and a stronger urge to control them on the one hand, and creating new dumping grounds for the wastes created out of our desire to cling to this notion of ‘development’ that is increasingly making ‘Waste’ a big issue. Tomorrow’s superpower will be dictated by the fact as to who owns the natural resources and who keeps their backyard clean. A scramble for hegemony on our resources has been on for quite some time. It is time for us Hyderabadis to wake up to these facts. This festival is a small effort towards this end.

We are most grateful to Magic Lantern Foundation, New Delhi, who not only agreed to supply with the films, but will also be participating in the festival; to the filmmakers Sanjay Barnela, Geeta Singh, Sarat Chandran and Baburaj; Amita Desai at Goethe Institute, ECOMOVE International, Germany, all of whom have readily given consent for screening their films; without which this festival would not have happened.

Saraswati Kavula
Organiser