ABU DHABI, 8th February, 2022 (WAM) — Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival 2022, co-organised by Zayed University and Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, supported by ADNOC and the British Council in the United Arab Emirates and hosted by Manarat Al Saadiyat, will hold its second edition from February 24-27.
The festival is free for the public and features a curated line-up of award-winning Emirati and international films that tackle the climate crisis, the impact of urban pollution, global water shortage and various environmental and social issues.
This year, Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival centers around the theme of Oasis Paradox. The oases, a vital part of Emirati geography and history, offer freshwater, land for agriculture and shade from the burning heat. The oasis symbolises hope and fertility in harsh desert climates, yet manmade interventions and development have brought on disease and environmental degradation and led to human vulnerability. This phenomenon has become known as the oasis paradox and is commonly known as the sustainability paradox.
Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival 2022 features a diverse range of features and shorts and will open with award-winning Honey, Rain and Dust (2017), directed by Nujoom Al Ghanem, I am Greta, a 2020 internationally co-produced documentary by Fredrik Heining and Cecilia Nessen that follows the incredible rise of climate change activist Greta Thunberg, and Koyaanaqatsi (1982), directed by Godfrey Reggio, one of the most famous environmental films in history, that focuses on nature, humanity, and the relationship between them.
The festival also includes two fiction films, the award-winning Lebanese film, Costa Brava (2021), directed by Mounia Akil, and Son of Monarchs (2021), directed by Alexis Gambis, a New York University Abu Dhabi professor. The festival also features Invisible Demons (2021), a Cannes premiering film by Indian auteur, Rahul Jain, and will close with Taming the Garden (2021), a Georgian film by director Salome Jashi.
Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri Secretary General of EAD said, “Media and visual arts are the most profound and effective tools to move people and instigate changes in behaviour. To highlight positive and impactful environmental work, the development of documentaries and films is key. They are both powerful mediums that can raise awareness about significant and important topics, such as climate change, pollution, loss of biodiversity, and degradation of nature, to name a few. The number of environmental challenges the world faces today is growing rapidly, and events such as the Al Sidr Film Festival help shed light on these challenges in a manner that is dynamic, appealing and informative.”
She added, “Youth engage better with visual arts and it is the youth of today who will be the stewards for the preservation of the environment in the future. Therefore, it makes sense that through film they can better understand global environmental threats and how they can mitigate them through pro-active and positive action. The theme for the festival this year is ‘Oasis Paradox’, which blends perfectly with the UAE natural heritage, and is a significant topic of finding balance between nature and human development – which is what we should all be striving for. We cannot under any circumstances compromise nature because of damaging human activity and we all have a role to play in highlighting the importance of the environment and through a festival as important as Al Sidr, we can achieve this goal.”
Dr. Fares Howari, Dean of College of Natural Science and Humanities, said, “With our second edition, we are excited to make Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival an ongoing tradition in Abu Dhabi. The College of Natural Health Sciences aims to have environmental sciences and sustainability discussed among diverse communities in the UAE. We promote climate change awareness and forge new relationships between the humanities, arts, and sciences. We are grateful for the efforts of the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi with the support of Zayed University’s leadership to make this event a success. Our students are putting in tremendous efforts and are actively contributing to the festival by providing their time and sharing their knowledge with the community to bring it to life.”
Dr Nezar Andary, Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences, filmmaker and the Artistic Director of Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival added, “This year, under the leadership of the Environment- Agency Abu Dhabi and Zayed University, we have decided to provoke audiences with films that ask difficult questions, unlock emotions, and increase awareness about the environment. In our second edition, we aim to push the local community to imagine, sense, and create more in our relationship with the environment. Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival educates and entertains, while providing a unique experience for film enthusiasts and those who are passionate about the environment.”
Part of Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival’s mission is to bring together the local community and mobilise action on important environmental and social issues.
The festival includes academic roundtables, such as “Thinking with the Atmospheric, Building Geosocial Future”, which brings together a group of scientists, political scientists, and artists led by Dr. Alexandra Cotofana, Assistant Professor, Humanities and Social Science, Zayed University, to address a range of topics including, the politics behind caring for the atmosphere and the connections between mankind and the environment. Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival 2022 features the work of Maltese Artist, Adrian Scicluna, and Associate Professor at the American University of Dubai, Dr Brigette Howarth for the first time.
The festival will also organise virtual screenings of a selection of films in various Abu Dhabi schools to engage young minds and involve students in the dialogue on climate change and the environment. Dr. Justin Thomas, renowned psychologist, writer and Associate Professor at Zayed University will also discuss the link between climate change and psychological grief. Furthermore, Environmental Studies students from Zayed University will present discussion panels, aligned with film topics and themes, to festival audiences.