Published: 07th November 2017
Chennai's kids can watch films on Climate Change in their classrooms, courtesy the Science Film Fest that has come to India for the first time
The Goethe Institute/Max Mueller Bhavan is organising India's first Science Film Festival for children and all the focus is on climate change. Interested? Get in touch and screen some
For the first time ever, Goethe Institute's Science Film Festival organised for children is coming to India and this year the festival's theme is Anthropocene. No, no don't go looking for that dictionary yet, we'll tell you what the meaning is. The geological era we are living in now is called the Anthropocene and what it essentially means is a time in the history of the planet where human activity has emerged as the most dominant factor influencing the climate and the environment.
Climate change is staring at us in the face and yet it hasn't shaken us up, like Goethe Institute's director, Helmut Schippert says- "It's like we are paralyzed." Schippert thinks that if nothing else at least screening 'mind-blowing' films for the future citizens of our world could lead to some sort of change.
Science Matters: The film festival was inaugurated by Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, Indian Institute of Technology - Madras
The Science Film Festival has been happening across the world for years now and it is now in its thirteenth year. Now, including India, the festival is taking place in 23 countries. In Chennai, the festival is happening between November 6 and December 18. Now you might wonder, how children are going to be able to skip classes to go watch these films (even though we might all agree that films leave more of an impact than a 45-minute lecture does).
This is where the Science Film Festival is different - there is no scheduled screening or shows - here the films are distributed among interested schools and the films are also accompanied with activities for the students as well. So it is a 'film-festival taken on rent', except the schools can actually borrow it for free. The Institute has selected 19 films - 11 for the age groups of 9-12 years and 8 films for the age group of 12-16 years. Some films are only 5-6 minutes long and the longest is 55 minutes and the schools get to choose 5-6 films each.
"If we just screened the film at the Institute then we would have probably just reached out to about 150 people. By distributing the film, we have the chance to engage more children, especially for corporation schools," Schippert said
The festival is conducted in cooperation with the Rotary Club of Madras East and the Environmentalist Foundation of India in order to reach out as many people as possible. "If we just screened the film at the Institute then we would have probably just reached out to about 150 people. By distributing the film, we have the chance to engage more children, especially for corporation schools," Schippert said. If the schools don't have the facilities to screen the film, they have been welcomed to screen it at Max Mueller Bhavan too.
Schippert said that the films are top-class and reiterated how 'mind-blowing they are,"From details on how a tiny insect works to the overwhelming information of how space missions are conducted to easily understandable animation, the quality of these films is impeccable. This is what is termed edu-taining," he explained.
Beauty in the details: The Institute has made an attempt to include as many
corporation schools as possible too
The director agrees that showing films is not the solution to climate change but believes that this could be an effective contributor. "Presently about 150 schools have registered. We want many more corporation schools to register too. The only condition we have is that the films should not be copied for copyright reasons. We also have activities that the children can indulge in after watching the films, it is not mandatory but we advise the teachers to conduct it for the students," he explained.
"We have been conducting workshops and screening films on climate change for two years now. This film festival is just another attempt to get the message across. Recently, I read an article which spoke about how climate change was threatening humanity but it is not just humanity, millions of other species live with us too, we have to start caring. It's now or never," Schippert added.