Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival, organised in collaboration with the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) and New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), announces its engaging two-day programme set to take place on October 22 and 23, 2023, at the Arts Centre at NYU Abu Dhabi.
In line with the Year of Sustainability in the UAE and COP28’s vision, Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival emphasises the essential role of water in achieving environmental sustainability. The festival collaborates with EAD to spotlight the environment, leadership, and COP28’s goals, promoting a sustainable future for all, while highlighting the theme of “Water” and its crucial connection to climate change, ecological equilibrium, and human survival.
The programme’s theme serves as a reminder of the invaluable significance of water in addressing global challenges. The event presents a curated selection of ten regional and international films, exploring water’s diverse facets – from its cultural importance to its critical role in our ecosystems. The programme welcomes the public at the Arts Centre at NYU Abu Dhabi, with sessions scheduled from 3.00 pm to 7.30 pm on Sunday and 6.00 pm to 7.30 pm on Monday.
The festival’s third edition focuses on global water challenges with a series of international and regional film screenings and panel discussions
His Excellency Ahmed Baharoon, Executive Director – Environmental Information, Science, and Outreach Management at Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi (EAD), underscores the festival’s role in environmental awareness: “Stories are powerful, and we use them every day. We believe that storytelling is important for embedding sustainability and initiating lasting change. Through its unique and engaging platform, Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival, which EAD sponsors actively, highlights Abu Dhabi’s efforts to mobilise action and engage our community on potential solutions.”
On the first day, the programme commences with a Presentation on Water and Activism by environmentalist Rasha Saleh. The screening includes the short film The Whelming Sea, a journey into the lives of animals on the sea’s edge, and the French film The First Days by Stephane Breton, offering a mesmerising exploration of nature’s power on the beaches of Chile. The Institute Francais co-sponsors the event. The evening unfolds with a series of short films from the U.S. and Lebanon and then a notable feature documentary, Stepping Softly on Earth, a compelling story of the struggles of indigenous peoples from Latin America.
“We recognise the power of film as a unique, powerful, and popular form of artistic expression to communicate complex issues and inspire change.
The festival presents to the UAE community an early Arab environmental cinema activist–Syrian film director Omar Amiralay. The festival screens his classic film, Everyday Life in a Syrian Village. The evening also showcases other local Arab initiatives from the Reef Festival in Lebanon and the Dibeen Lab in Jordan.
The programme’s second day includes an insightful EAD presentation followed by an Egyptian short film, Drowning Fish, and a fiction feature film from India, The Whispers of Fire and Water. The film is a poignant story about a sound artist searching for equilibrium in a world out of balance.
Scandar Copti, CinemaNa Series Curator and Associate Arts Professor of Film at NYUAD, expressed his commitment to the programme, collaborating with EAD and the Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival. “We recognise the power of film as a unique, powerful, and popular form of artistic expression to communicate complex issues and inspire change. Environmentally themed films challenge us to think deeply about the world and our place in it, and NYAD champions this kind of thought-provoking platforms, such as Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival, especially during the Year of Sustainability, which is a theme underpinning much of our programming this season.”
”We believe that storytelling is important for embedding sustainability and initiating lasting change.”
Dr. Nezar Andary, Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences, Filmmaker, and Artistic Director of Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival, reflects on the programme’s evolution: “As we gather for this special edition of the Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival, we are reminded of our journey and our purpose as a catalyst for change. This year, we delve into the critical theme of water, examining its pivotal role in our world with a pragmatic and global approach. We believe it’s the role of artists and gifted communicators to help inspire and stimulate audiences to understand the threats to our planet. We want to make them more textured and intimate. This year’s programme is a mix of Middle Eastern films and retrospective films from the Arab world. The festival continues to be our platform to inspire greater understanding and action in the face of climate change.
In 2022, the Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival held its second edition at Manarat Al Saadiyat under the theme “Oasis Paradox,” attracting more than 1000 visitors. The festival’s 2023 programme aims to raise awareness in the public towards exploring vital environmental issues and fostering a deeper connection to the planet through the art of film.