A film festival highlighting the issue of disaster risk education

India has been traditionally vulnerable to natural disasters on account of its unique geo-climatic conditions. Floods, droughts, cyclones, earthquakes and landslides have been a recurrent phenomenon. We have heard about ‘disaster management’ programmes and initiatives being undertaken by various agencies. Plenty of money is spent for the relief of the victims. Some are benefitted while some are deprived. But, if a risk of a disaster can be minimised before it strikes, then many deaths can be averted. ‘Shock Waves 2012’, a unique film festival on ‘disaster risk reduction’ was organised at the India Habitat Centre earlier this month. Anuj Tiwari, Executive Director of the film festival, said, “Everyone thinks that disaster management means managing during post-disaster times. The need of the hour is to reduce the risk of an untoward situation beforehand. We tried to create awareness through films so that the victims are well prepared before any emergency force acts.”

The international film festival screened 26 films divided into 6 categories, and each category was followed by a panel discussion. The festival was organised by Global Forum for Disaster Reduction (GFDR) in collaboration with Japan Foundation, India. The films had been received from different countries like Japan, Nepal, Cambodia, Armenia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Kenya and India. Renowned Indian mountaineer, Santosh Yadav was also present to express her views on the films being showcased. She said, “We need to achieve balance in every aspect of life. Disasters are not only a natural event but the risk also gets aggravated due to ill-human practices. We need to manage our behaviour well.”

The films discussed the disparities between drought-hit areas and flood affected regions, ill-human practices, illegal habitation, and the methods to reduce risk. The first category was titled ‘Learnings from Japan’. The films in this section showed how the people of Japan pro-actively ensured safety and relief, without much help from the government. The festival also screened two animation films Dost Appu and De Taali, which adorably talked about the preventive instructions which can be helpful during calamities.

The festival got a positive response from the audiences that had turned up in good numbers. Further elaborating, Anuj said, “Films are an excellent medium to put through a message efficiently. They have a better impact on the audience and there is no language barrier. I am elated with the response to this festival. Even various state governments have requested us to conduct such screenings.”

The response to the films was collected through feedback forms.