Climate Cinema series kicks off at IFAD

IFAD hosts the first showing of the Climate Cinema series.  ©IFAD
Written by Adam Vincent

Last week, IFAD's Environment and Climate Division hosted the first screening of its monthly Climate Cinema series at the Fund's headquarters in Rome. Organized in association with the Think Forward Film Festival and the International Centre for Climate Governance (ICCG), the event featured three short documentaries and a panel discussion with Enrica de Cian of Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM), a research institution devoted to the study of sustainable development and global governance, as well as IFAD's broadcast manager James Heer and regional climate and environment specialist Juan De Dios Mattos.

Two of the documentaries had previously been seen at the annual Think Forward festival in Venice, which showcases films about climate change and renewable energy. Currently in its fifth year, the festival is a project of ICCG and a joint initiative of FEEM and Fondazione Giorgio Cini, a research centre for climate policy design. It is open to children and helps presents information to them in a simplified way

Survival through adaptation
The first film was Biljana Garvanlieva's After The Rain (Climate Testimonials), the first-ever climate change documentary made by a Macedonian director. After the Rain opens with a quote from Charles Darwin: "It isn't the strongest of the species that survive, nor even the most intelligent, but the one most adaptable to change." The film then follows four Macedonian women farmers from diverse backgrounds as they react to the disastrous effects of climate change. In all cases, increased precipitation (and especially hail) are causing crops such as tobacco and tomatoes to rot in the ground.

A panel discussion follows the screening. ©IFAD
The second film was Bolivia: Potatoes in Peril, a short documentary produced by IFAD. It follows the work of an IFAD-supported project in one Bolivian village whose main water source had dried up. As their potato yields have fallen correspondingly, many young people have left the village in search of work. The video examines how IFAD's Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme helps communities adapt to climate change. In order to create opportunities for the community to restore itself, IFAD is working with the village to construct irrigation canals and develop new irrigation techniques that can ensure the future of the potato.

The third film was Ephraim Broschkowski and Bernd Hezel's The Value of Soil. This animated short film presented land as one of "mankind's most precious assets," a non-renewable resource that is quickly being depleted. Up to this point, the film suggests, the effects of land and soil degradation have not been considered in value calculations. The result is a downward spiral: Degraded soil stores less carbon, leading to greater climate change, leading to changing water patterns, leading to further soil degradation. Continuing to focus solely on yield and disregard the effects of soil degradation, the film warns, is dangerously unstable.

Films such as these can be powerful tools for advocacy, said James Heer. They are accessible and publicize voices that the audience may not otherwise hear. Although IFAD used to prepare half-hour documentaries for BBC, it now focuses on shorter videos, Heer added, because they are more flexible and have more markets. IFAD videos have been featured on in-flight airline channels, news programmes and social media.

The Climate Cinema series will continue through June. The next installment will be on 24 March, focusing on the theme of water.