The mere smattering of viewers at the inaugural day of the two-day Wildscreen Festival in the city did not dent the enthusiasm of the organiser, Harriet Nimmo, who remained optimistic about India’s involvement in environmental and wildlife filmmaking.
Founded by Sir Peter Scott in 1982 in Bristol, Wildscreen is hailed as the largest international wildlife and environmental film festival and culminates in the Panda Awards, known synonymously as the Green Oscars.
“Our mission is to harness the power of imagery and employ it to enhance people’s understanding of the natural world,” said Nimmo, the CEO of Wildscreen.
The British Council took the initiative to bring the prestigious film festival to India for the second time as part of its Low Carbon Futures initiative.
Of the 20 award-winning films from the last edition of the awards ceremony held in the UK in October 2008, Nimmo has picked nine for screenings across four cities in India — Delhi, Guwahati, Bangalore and Mumbai.
“India is a key destination for us because the rapid economic development is impacting the climate. I’ve chosen a mix of environmental films because it’s clearly the need of the hour,” Nimmo added. Indian filmmakers, she claimed, score the most Pandas at every Wildscreen after the UK and the US.
“Wildscreen is for budding professionals. Besides students, politicians and businessmen who are destroying the very foundations of life on earth that these brilliant filmmakers are recording for posterity, should see them,” said environmentalist Bittu Sahgal.
Panda recipients Amanda Theunissen, Paul Donovan and Naresh Bedi will attend the Mumbai-leg of the festival to share their films and conduct masterclasses on the nuances of this genre.
“Many filmmakers feel passionately about the subject but are unable to communicate that to the audience. To include these films in the mainstream, one has to treat them in a way that it makes the viewers want to do something. When you only project solemnity and a planet in ruins it’s not going to attract anyone,” said Theunissen, an executive producer with US channels National Geographic and Discovery.
The first Asian to receive the Green Oscar for his film The Ganges Gharial in 1984, Bedi will showcase his film Wild Adventures: Ballooning with Bedi Brothers, which sees him traversing the country on a hot air balloon to film India’s beasts in their habitats, during his masterclass on Friday.
(Wildscreen is under way at Whistling Woods International in Goregaon, from 10 am to 4.30 pm on Friday)