Go green: A peek into our environment, a feast for eyes

  • Namita Kohli, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Oct 10, 2015 12:09 IST
Rita Banerji’s Flight to Freedom -- The Amur Falcon Story is part of the festival.

In 2006, wildlife filmmaker Senani Hegde made a film on wild dogs in Karnataka’s Bandipur National Park. It was quite an “underdog” issue in the area of wildlife conservation, he says. While studying the dogs’ “social behaviour”, however, Senani stumbled upon another lesser explored species - Indian wolves. Senani was fascinated by the fact that world over, the predator had managed to survive, despite systematic efforts to kill it. “It took us three years, but we got rare footage of the animal and its behaviour. We also managed to track their fascinating relationship with the nomadic shepherds,” says the 52-year-old, whose film, Walking with the Wolves, will be screened at the ongoing Vatavaran Film Festival on Monday. For environment enthusiasts, there are 74 such thought-provoking films being screened here, with subjects ranging from the successful conservation of the Amur falcon, the sustainable cultures of the Kondh adivasis, the salt miners of Kutch, and the battle for clean water in Punjab. It’s a visual treat, one that prompts you to think about the environment and conservation in an engaging manner, says PN Vasanti, director, Centre for Media Studies, the organisation behind the festival.

In keeping with the theme for this year, “Water for Life”, there are also several seminars and workshops on issues such as revival of local water bodies and groundwater management, among others. “Through these films, discussions and even the sale of organic products, we want to engage different kinds of audiences and bring about change, both at the perception, and at the policy level,” says Vasanti. For a country that is supporting 16 per cent of the global population on a mere 4 per cent of the world’s freshwater, that’s a welcome thought.


Rita Banerji’s Flight to Freedom -The Amur Falcon Story is a recent success story in wildlife conservation. Till 2012, thousands of Amur falcons were slaughtered every year in Nagaland, as they arrived from Mongolia, while on their migratory route to South Africa. Organisations such as the Conservation India (CI) and Nagaland Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation Trust (NWBCT) highlighted the trend and ensured a complete ban on the killing of the Amur Falcon. In 2013, not a single falcon was killed by the community.

When: 3 pm, October 12


One of the highlights of the popular event seems to be the crowd-funded tribal food festival where 25 adivasis from different states would be serving their traditional fare, and displaying forest produce. Some of the items include ragi pakoras (right) made by the Kondh tribes of Odisha, kachri (wild cucumber) sabji cooked by Rajasthan’s Bhil tribes, and boiled wild tubers served by the Baiga and Pahari Korba tribes of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. For a country where tribals are fast becoming synonymous with displacement, hopefully, breaking bread with them might help some of us empathise with their situation.

When: Until October 13


Surendra Manan’s 28-minute documentary, The Battle Begins... zeroes on the story of rural Punjab’s Sant Balbir Seechewal and his followers, who have been at the forefront of cleaning up of a river in Hoshiarpur district. Using the tradition of kar sewa (community service) and donation, the holy man got locals to join him in the mission. The authorities were forced to follow suit.

When: 1.30 pm, October 11


Filmmaker Senani Hegde, says that a myth has helped the Indian wolf, in central and southern India, survive. Nomadic shepherds believe that the wolves are “family” - a brother who left them long ago, to be precise - and allow them to feed on their sheep. The film tracks the predator’s relationship with the locals and nomads, and documents their survival strategies.

When:3 pm, October 12


An “intimate poetic window” into Odisha’s Kondh adivasis, Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl’s ‘I Can Not Give You My Forest’ is an award winning documentary being premiered at the festival. The film highlights how the Kondh adivasis have internalised the Forest - pacing the rhythms of their lives with the cycle of the


When: 4.30 pm, October 11


Check out the Spanish film, Basura o Recurso? Experiencia de la Republica Dominicana (Garbage or Resource? A Dominican Republic Experience), that shows how locals are using trash to make money. By turning recycling into an economic opportunity, the Dominicans have set an example for the world in waste management. The 17-minute documentary has been produced by the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) and Funglode, and is also on available on Youtube.

When: 1.30 pm, October 13

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