This global film festival is taking the message of sustainability to school students

A still from Sea Wonders   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

In these times of climate change concerns, it would do us well to look back at the philosophy of a man who was born 250 years ago. Eighteenth-Century Prussian naturalist Alexander von Humboldt propagated the idea that Nature is an interconnected living web. On his birth anniversary, Goethe-Institut has announced ‘Humboldt and the Web of Life’ as the theme for its Science Film Festival this year, focussing on environmentalism and sustainability. The annual festival aims to make science more accessible to school students through the medium of cinema.

Over 80 movies have been curated for the festival, designed to cater to age groups starting from as young as five, to university level graduates. On the one hand, you have Messy Goes to OKIDO, a UK TV comedy adventure series for children that follows the inquisitive and loveable monster Messy. This time, it is in search of a new source of electricity, to power their favourite band’s concert. On the other hand, you have Green Warriors, a French documentary delving into the realities of uranium pollution in Johannesburg. These movies are being played in over 20 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In India, Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata play host.

A stills from Messy goes to OKIDO

A stills from Messy goes to OKIDO   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“We received over 220 movies, out of which 83 were curated by our team in Bangkok. For India, we selected 25 of those,” says Geetha Vedaraman, programme coordinator for Goethe. “It is not just about the visual aspect. We also have various activities post screening that will help students understand the message of the films and apply their findings better.”

In Chennai, Goethe is working with Yoshida Menon and Preveena Nandakumar to design and conduct these activities and workshops. “We showcased a series called Nanogirl and the Imaginauts. Pressure was the central theme running through the episode, so after the screening, we experimented with designing a rocket launcher using vinegar and baking soda,” says Yoshida, by way of example.

“Another thing we did was teach students how to upcycle old T-shirts into cloth bags. That was after a movie called Earth to Future, which talks about moving towards a plastic-free world.” The duo has also designed exhibits at Goethe, such as waste segregation games and posters explaining the science from the movies.

A still from Green Warriors

A still from Green Warriors   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The festival, which is in its third year in Chennai, is open solely to schools, and not for individuals. In 2018, it reached 333 schools and 81,500 students. Schools can either come to Goethe for screenings, or they can take back science kits with movies, activity boxes and lesson plans.

Yoshida, who has been working in the field of sustainability and education for a long time, stresses on the importance of a medium like cinema to spread the message of environmentalism. Her favourite movie of the lot, she says, is Point of No Return. “It is the story of the first solar-powered aircraft that circumnavigated the earth. It not only shows how important it is to have sustainable energy sources, but in following the journey of these two pilots, it celebrates what humanity is capable of doing when it sets its mind to it.”

The Science Film Festival is on till December 23, at Goethe Institut, 4 Rutland Gate, Nungambakkam. For registration and details, visit www.goethe.de/prj/sff/en/faw.cfm or call 28331314.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2020 5:43:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/goethe-instituts-science-film-festival-takes-the-message-of-sustainability-to-school-students/article29777747.ece

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