No time for denial | Klima Film Festival

Ahead of climate-change themed film festival Klima Film, we spoke to Irene Mangion of the Kopin NGO, who together with Triq Cinemoon is organising the festival in the hope of raising awareness and fostering discussion on this very real natural threat

Still from Even the Rain, featuring Gael Garcia Bernal (right)
Still from Even the Rain, featuring Gael Garcia Bernal (right)

What inspired the event?

At Kopin, we’ve been working on an EU co-funded project on climate change for the past three years. This project includes various activities, from seminars to training sessions for farmers to public events. We wanted to do something to raise awareness on climate change right before the international climate change conference that is taking place in Paris (COP 21) at the end of November.

Film seemed to be the right medium: the visual arts are a very powerful educational tool and can reach a wide range of people. We also thought a film festival would be the best way to present the various aspects of climate change to the public – not just the environmental but also the social, even cultural implications of this phenomenon.

So we spoke to Antonio [Villa Castelo] from Triq Cinemoon about this and he immediately accepted to work with us. That’s how Klimafilm came about.

How did you go about selecting the films being shown?

Antonio was in charge of selecting the films, with input from everyone at Kopin and other colleagues and friends. We decided to include different topics and have films that touch upon a number of issues that are related to the changing climate.

We obviously did a lot of research and checked what other environmental film festivals abroad had done. Antonio watched an incredible number of movies, short films and documentaries! In the end we chose the films we thought were most pertinent and that enabled us to tackle the issue from different angles.

As most of the films we found had never been shown in Malta and were not mainstream films, we did not feel obliged to go for very recent films only.

We chose the films we felt were particularly appealing to a Maltese audience: there’s a film about water scarcity, one on climate migration, another on small island states. We also included an animated film for children which we’ll screen on Saturday, November 28 at 16:00.

Is there a particular angle from which you’d like to tackle climate change with this festival?

We did not want to focus on one given aspect of climate change. We realise the subject is not an easy one, but rather one people tend to struggle with, whether it is because the science behind it is daunting, or because the situation can seem pretty bleak if not hopeless. We wanted the festival to ‘explain’ climate change, but we did not particularly want doomsday or post-apocalyptic films.

The films we chose tell the story of what is causing climate change (deforestation, unsustainable lifestyles and diets, fossil fuels, transport, etc.) as well as what climate change is resulting in (more frequent and more intense extreme weather events, the loss of homes and habitats, the depletion of resources, climate migration, etc.).

We would like the audience to leave the theatre thinking that climate change is an issue that matters to them. If it matters enough for them to change their lifestyles and lobby decision makers to take it seriously, then all the better!

Do you think there’s an issue of awareness on climate change in Malta?

Many people have heard about climate change and children are being taught about it in schools, which is a good thing. However, what we observed when we organised awareness raising activities was that people do not worry that much about climate change, in the sense that it’s not very high on their list of priorities, which is quite astounding really, when you consider that Malta is an island state with no water resources to speak of.

We are very vulnerable to climate change. Probably more needs to be done to explain what is at stake and make people understand that climate change affects them and is bound to affect them with increasing intensity in the future.

We speak a lot of future generations and indeed, if nothing is done to curb greenhouse gas emissions, they could inherit a rather hostile world from us, but we all need to realise that climate change is also about us here and now, that we have responsibilities and that we can all take action to lead more sustainable lives.

The Klima Film Climate Change Film Festival will be taking place at The British Legion, Melita Street, Valletta between November 26 to 28. Entrance is free. For more information and a full progamme of events, log on to:­lm

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