The 7th CMS Vatavaran film festival, starting today, seeks to familiarise with environmental issues and concerns

Biodiversity. Food security. Organic farming. Terms we have all heard but know very little about. With the global green movement gradually finding greater visibility and eliciting greater participation from common people, the CMS ‘Vatavaran’ Environment and Wildlife Film Festival and Forum is following suit with its seventh edition this year, in an entirely reworked format for greater appeal to the general public.

Modelled along the lines of the Jaipur Literature Festival – the inspiration for the format, as CMS Director P.N. Vasanti reveals – ‘Vatavaran’ will leave the closed confines of the auditorium and be held in the open lawns of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) in New Delhi, starting from January 30 to February 3, 2014. Along with film screenings, thematic discussions and debates it will also have exhibitions, musical performances, book launches, filmmaking and photography workshops, a ‘Green Haat’ for shopping and a food court. The ‘Young Champions Lawn’, a special area solely for children and the youth, will have themed painting and slogan writing competitions and various other interactive and participative activities.

“When we started out with ‘Vatavaran’ a decade ago, there was hardly any response to the issues it addressed. Over the years, participation has increased: many more schools, colleges and policy makers are now interested in talking about the environment. There is much more to be done, however, which is why the festival this year is at such a large scale,” says Vasanti.

“Our aim is to attract a larger number of common people whom we can reach out to and familiarise with the issues that will be discussed in the forum. That is why this time we have much more to engage them, to change the perception that this festival is only for environmentalists, filmmakers and policy makers and not for everyone. Any issues you’re even remotely interested in like the water situation in your colony that you feel needs to be improved, or if you’re a parent and feel that your child needs to be aware of certain things, you can come in and participate in what is essentially a celebration of the environment,” she adds.

Working within this year’s larger theme of “Mainstreaming Biodiversity Conservation”, ‘Vatavaran’ will screen 150 films by Indian as well as international filmmakers and hold 48 Thematic Sessions with over 70 eminent speakers. Sushmit Ghosh, co-director of National Award winning Timbaktu which is one of the films that will be screened during the course of the festival, feels that the open discussions following the screenings can be extremely fruitful: “Timbaktu has already been screened in 65 to 70 spaces and each time people have come up with questions and arguments that have broken a lot of myths. A film festival like ‘Vatavaran’ makes things more interesting because it also brings in points of view from experts in the field, which can be more enriching for the general public attending the interactions.”

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