Zayed University and Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi partner to harness the power of cinema to trigger critical thinking about environmental issues.
The inaugural Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival, organised by Zayed University and the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) will be held at Manarat Al Saadiyat, from February 6th to 8th, and will be free to the public. It will feature a curated selection of acclaimed films highlighting pressing environmental issues, from climate change to issues such as single-use plastics, e-waste and food waste.”
Khansa Al Blouki, Director of Environmental Outreach at the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, stated “We aim through the Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival to highlight crucial environmental issues from different points of view to inspire and motivate audiences to better understand the threats and challenges that our planet faces”.
She concluded by saying “The focus of this year’s festival is on waste and its impact on the environment as it is considered one of the main environmental challenges that require public awareness. We aim to change that awareness into positive and sustainable behaviour leading to conserving the environment and achieving the goals put forth by our leaders to ensure a sustainable future for us and future generations”.
Dr Fares Howari, Dean and Professor of the College of Natural and Heath Sciences and College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Zayed University said “Zayed University started to promote stronger environmental consciousness in both the humanities and sciences curriculums, many years ago. The Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival not only reflects our university goals of nurturing commitment to the environmental sciences, but also promoting more environmental awareness among our communities.”
“We are proud of our partnership with EAD that has taken a strong role in supporting this event, and the leadership of our university for nurturing initiatives that connect the arts and sciences. The UAE has committed itself towards a path of sustainability for the next fifty years and we see ourselves being an integral part of this effort.” He concluded.
Dr Nezar Andary, Associate Professor, College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Zayed University and the festival’s creative director commented “We will be showcasing creative films that are highly relevant to local environmental issues in the UAE. We have also coupled them with dynamic events to ensure that audiences think and interact. Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival is much more than screenings, every aspect has been considered to ensure an exceptionally moving audience experience.”
The inaugural Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival will feature ground-breaking and award-winning films; exploring the connections between mankind and the environment and presenting thought provoking perspectives on the natural world. It aims to trigger debate and mobilise action on important environmental issues. Other planned activities at the festival include; an art exhibition with artwork created from waste specifically single-use plastic waste, talks with environmental activists, workshops, and a photographers’ gallery. Al Sidr Film Festival will also be organising screenings in various Abu Dhabi Schools to engage young minds and involve students in the dialogue on climate change and the environment.
About Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi
The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) was established in 1996 and is committed to protecting and enhancing air quality, groundwater as well as the biodiversity throughout the desert and marine ecosystem. By partnering with other government entities, the private sector, NGOs and global environmental agencies, they embrace international best practice, innovation and hard work to institute effective policy measures. EAD’s aim is to raise environmental awareness, facilitate sustainable development and ensure environmental issues remain one of the top priorities of national agenda.
About Zayed University:
Zayed University is a national and regional leader in educational innovation. Founded in 1998 and proudly bearing the name of the Founder of the Nation – the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, this flagship institution has met the President’s high expectations. Today, Zayed University has two modern campuses in Dubai and Abu Dhabi that welcome both national and international students.
The Al Sidr Environmental film festival aims to engage the UAE community to be part of the larger dialogue and highlights the most pressing environmental issues, through displaying with the highest level of cinematic art.
Movie Selection for Screening at the Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival:
Different from every other plastic documentary you’ve seen, The Story of Plastic presents a cohesive timeline of how we got to our current global plastic pollution crisis and how the oil and gas industry has successfully manipulated the narrative around it.
A film 11 years in the making, Youth Unstoppable documents the struggles and events of the largely unseen and misunderstood Global Youth Climate Movement. Beginning at age 15, Slater Jewell-Kemker tells the story of a generation fighting to be heard within the frustrating and complex process of UN Climate Change negotiations. From flood ravaged villages in Nepal to the Alberta Tar Sands to the riots in Copenhagen, Youth Unstoppable shows a powerful vision for the future of our planet and the youth who will lead us there.
The filmmakers take us on a worldwide tour encompassing concrete seawalls in China, which now cover 60 percent of the mainland coast; the biggest terrestrial machines ever built in Germany; potash mines in Russia’s Ural Mountains; a heavy metal festival in the closed city of Norilsk, Siberia; the devastated Great Barrier Reef in Australia; and lithium evaporation ponds in South America’s Atacama Desert. High-end production values and state-of-the-art camera techniques capture evidence of human planetary domination. At the intersection of art and science, this film bears witness to a critical moment in geological history.
ALBATROSS is a powerful visual journey into the heart of an astonishingly symbolic environmental tragedy. On one of the remotest islands on our planet, tens of thousands of baby albatrosses lie dead on the ground, their bodies filled with plastic. Returning to the island over several years, our team witnessed the cycles of life and death of these birds as a multi-layered metaphor for our times. This story is framed in the vividly gorgeous language of state-of-the-art high-definition digital cinematography, surrounded by millions of live birds in one of the world’s most beautiful natural sanctuaries.
Over the course of 40 years, photographer Sebastião Salgado has borne witness to the plights of marginalized communities the world over, from famines to civil wars to unsafe labor conditions. Now he turns his camera toward another subject under threat – our natural world – framing pristine landscapes and bounties of biodiversity within a huge project celebrating the environment.
Walden was produced in consultation with the Walden Woods project. It focuses on the relationship between the author and philosopher’s, Henry David Thoreau, philosophy and contemporary societal and environmental challenges.
Every year 80% of the world’s water, 40% of the world’s land, and 10% of the world’s energy is dedicated to growing the food we eat, yet in the same year 1.3 billion tons of food is thrown out. That’s a third of all food grown around the world being wasted before it even reaches a plate. WASTED! The Story of Food Waste sheds a light on the pressing issue of food waste. Executive produced by author and chef Anthony Bourdain, the film doesn’t simply focus on the problem, but offers solutions like reorienting consumer perspectives on the food that is normally cast aside, and what changes we can make to our food production chain to create a more sustainable food system.
This dark and sensuous film takes us to a landfill in Ghana where electronic waste from the West is being recycled. It is an unforgettable experience, told by the workers themselves.
Workshops held at the Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival:
All key workshops will take place in Manarat Al Saadiyat.
Day 1 – Thursday, February 6th
3:00-5:00 P.M Academic Roundtable on Environmental Humanities:
The ‘environmental humanities’ and arts have taken on the social, political, and ecological realities of climate change, complementing and at times interrogating the work being done by scientists and environmental activists. How does our scholarly and creative production matter to global environmental awareness, knowledge, and activism? How might collaborations between peoples from different disciplines and the climate sciences help? From the Anthropocene to green and greening, climate change to re-wilding, and sustainability to resilience, we are constantly critically interpreting emerging terms in the environmental justice movements.
7:00-10:00 P.M VIP Welcome & Opening Film:
Albatross is a powerful visual journey into the heart of an astonishingly symbolic environmental tragedy. On one of the remotest islands on our planet, tens of thousands of baby albatrosses lie dead on the ground, their bodies filled with plastic. Returning to the island over several years, our team witnessed the cycles of life and death of these birds as a multi-layered metaphor for our times.
Day 2– Friday, February 7th
3:00- 4:30 P.M Welcome to Sodom, 92min
The world’s biggest dump of electronic waste is teeming with noises of people working. They rummage, collect, recover and burn down. An impressive apocalyptic tableau on meticulous work within a new economic segment. A disconcerting testimony on life conditions.
4:30 P.M End Small Talk
An event to encourage, provoke and to promote deeper conversation and connections after a film viewing of Welcome to Sodom. Farah Bushnaq is one of the founders of this inspiring movement and will attend.
7:00 P.M Wasted: Story of Food Waste, 90mins
Through the eyes of famous chefs, audiences will see how they make the most of every kind of food, transforming what most people consider scraps into incredible dishes that create a more secure food system.
8:30 P.M It Still Tastes Delicious: Dining with Less Waste
Dinner created by Chef Lorenzo Pagliora
In Partnership with the British Council
After the screening of Wasted! Story of Food Waste, the audience and Abu Dhabi community members are invited to experience a unique dinner based on food waste. One third of food produce is wasted according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. There are many reasons for this, but the simplest reason is, our own habits.
The numbers of food waste in connection to climate change are staggering from any account. Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival dedicates one film to this issue. We want to immediately challenge our own practices and meditate on how much we waste. We have been working closely with Chef Lorenzo Pagliaro of L’Arte to create a delicious meal, but with food that is usually wasted in many kitchens.
Three unique and eclectic courses presented with live cooking stations will not only taste delicious but will allow the audience to learn more about how to make better choices in the kitchen. Restaurants managers and chefs are encouraged to attend.
The head chef Lorenzo Pagliaro began his culinary journey in Parma Italy and graduated from International Culinary Academy of Cuisine. After graduation, he began traveling all over Italy, learning from the country’s best chefs. He continued to travel until his arrival to Abu Dhabi in 2017 and has been the Head Chef at L’Arte in Manaarat Saadiyaat ever since. Lorenzo’s efforts have been inspired by his grandmother and the many well-known Italian cooks that taught him the art of sustainable cooking.
Day 3- Saturday, February 8th
1:00PM Green Film Workshop
Workshop led by Bassam Alasad
The act of making films has been considered to have a high carbon footprint. Greener Screen FZ LLC is a social enterprise which aims to support film, TV and Digital media industries in becoming environmentally sustainable. During the festival, our trainers will be conducting the “Carbon Literacy” workshop which will highlight the award winning Arab short film, Give Up the Ghost directed by Zain Duraie and Produced by Alaa Alasad. The film followed sustainable production best practices in partnership with Greener Screen. The workshop will also offer specific advice on how to minimize the environmental impact on film sets based on expert advise to enact positive change.
Bassam Alasad, Co- Founder and Managing director of Greener Screen, is a prolific producer of many films in the regions and most recently, he was executive producer of the award-winning film ‘Born a King’. Bassam Alasad started his green-producing journey in 2004 and in 2018 Co-founded Greener Screen as a consultancy that aims to help the media industry in the region to become net zero carbon.
11:00 A.M Art Workshop
Workshop led by Rasha Saleh, and Emirates Nature-WWF
Old is Gold: Ever heard of upcycling? It’s when you take something normally considered to be waste and transform it into something more useful and beautiful. It’s a great way to reduce waste and harness your creativity. In this workshop we will be sharing thoughts on conscious consumerism, how different types of waste can be transformed, and showing you how to turn humble plastic bags into an amazing fused plastic leather – which we will use there and then to make no-stitch, totally unique glass cases. Bring along your plastic bags and creative ideas!
Rasha El Saleh is the Conservation Education and Outreach Coordinator in Emirates Nature-WWF. She leads outreach and youth empowerment within the ‘Connect with Nature community’ in UAE providing opportunities for young people to lead and make an impactful change.
3:30 P.M Story of Plastic, 85mins
We all know by now that plastic waste is a problem — it’s washing ashore on beaches, swirling in giant ocean eddies, gumming up the insides of whales and seabirds, and embedding itself in the farthest reaches of the planet. But most media coverage focuses on the end of the line — where plastics end up — and not where they came from or why. The Story of Plastic fills that void.
7:00 P.M Anthropocene, 87mins
Filmmakers travel to six continents and 20 countries to document the impact humans have made on the planet. A cinematic meditation on humanity’s massive re-engineering
of the planet, Â ANTHROPOCENE: The Human EpochÂ is four years in the making feature documentary film from the multiple-award winning team of Jennifer Baichwal,
Nicholasde Pencier, and Edward Burtynsky, narrated by Alicia Vikander.
Small Art Cinema in Photographers studio at Manarat Al Saadiyat with photo exhibition showing the beautiful Walden, Salt of the Earth and Albatross.
Screening of environmental films onboard Etihad, a mini film festival in the air!
Screenings in schools of this inspiring film!
Co-sponsored by Masdar
Manaarat Saadiyaat and DCT are cosponsoring a photography and cinema exhibition in the Studio at Manaarat highlighting the photography of the Emirati Obaid Al Budour.