India's Exclusive Environment and Wildlife Film Festival
November 18-20, 2003 at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi
Over the years,
media especially Satellite Television has seen unprecedented growth
in the country. A whiff of fresh choices greeted Indian viewers
in the early 90's, with multi channel programming becoming a reality.
The entry of foreign channels like Discovery, Nat Geo, and Animal
planet have carved a new dedicated audience segment for nature and
wildlife programming in India, which didn't exist in the yore.
Wildlife and nature programming channels are replete with high budget
'blue chip' films running into millions of dollars, mostly showing
breathtaking and beautiful visuals of nature and wildlife. They
focus only on the most appealing elements of nature and cultures
to entice the 'global' audience. For a common viewer it is all hunky-dory.
The technical razzmatazz and glossy films on nature though look
awesome don't reflect the 'real' problems, nor do they address pressing
issues let alone match the Indian psyche and context.
This is where Indian filmmakers have to make a mark. To raise the
levels of awareness, express and bring out hard-hitting environmental
programmes and documentaries that reflect the ecological destruction
and concerns. It is a sad fact that Indian filmmakers don't have
lavish budgets and time to produce films unlike their western counterparts.
India provides a vast mosaic of environmental issues that are challenging
and have largely remained unexplored. Environment and wildlife filmmakers
work under demanding and at times life threatening situations and
terrains, where even basic medical help could be out of reach for
many days together. Not just shoestring but 'shameful' budgets further
exacerbate their plight and waters down the filmmaker's enthusiasm.
Thus the scope
for 'activist films' needs to be widened further in the country
among the Indian filmmakers, through proper institutional support
and adequate funding. 'Vatavaran 2003' India's exclusive wildlife
and environment film festival is one such effort to promote and
encourage Indian filmmakers to produce quality environment, wildlife
and conservation film. Indian environment and wildlife documentary
filmmakers have made giant strides and have received international
recognition in the recent years. There is a need to recognize and
institutionalize such documentary films and ventures to promote
environmental concern, to sensitize and address the public and policy
makers at large.
Last year film
festival "Vatavaran 2002" was applauded as a pioneering
effort in field of environmental filmmaking, organized by the Centre
for Media Studies (CMS) and Ministry of Environment and Forests.
In the very first year of its inception, an astonishing 100 film
entries were received. Such a huge response from the film making
fraternity has reaffirmed the faith in organizing this event. "Vatavaran"
has now become an annual calendar event, promoting the best environment
and wildlife film talent in the country and forging common grounds
to showcase environmental films to huge national audiences.
A PIONEERING EFFORT
In this years
'Vatavaran 2003' film festival, an overwhelming 154 entries have
been received from across the country in eight categories including
Wildlife conservation, Natural Resource Conservation, Special theme
of the festival 'Water', Films produced by children, and TV programmes.
Over 100 eminent
professional from varied fields including Cinema, media, education,
environment and wildlife were closely involved in organizing this
year's festival. Internationally acclaimed and eminent filmmaker
Shri Adoor Gopalakrishnan heads the Jury for final selection of
the films this year. Sixteen National awards with total prize money
of Rs.6, 50,000/- were awarded to the outstanding and hard hitting
documentary films in this year's film festival, held at India Habitat
Centre, New Delhi.
endeavors to provide a platform to some of the aspiring and brilliant
environment and wildlife filmmakers of the country who have remained
largely unsupported. It was an opportunity to converge and become
participants and partners in preservation and conservation efforts.
OF THIS YEAR FILM FESTIVAL
astonishing 154 fresh entries were received this year as against
104 odd entries last year from all over the country. Even though
a substantial 65 entries have been received from Delhi based filmmakers
alone, followed by Maharashatra with 35 entries, UP and Rajasthan
with nine entries each, there have been entries from Dholka, Sirmaur,
Ernakulam, Sagar, Harda, Raigarh and Talegon.
· More than six thousand enthusiastic school children, college
students, film-makers, NGOs, concerned citizens participated.
· Eminent people from the field of environment, wildlife
and filmmakers converged under the auspices of "Vatavaran 2003",
three rounds of engaging and insightful panel discussion on issues
such as Water crisis: looking beyond, lack of environmental program's
on Indian television, and wildlife film making. engaging panel discussion
on the state of "Wildlife filmmaking in India: Issues and challenges".
· Screenings of 30 thought provoking documentary films on
issues concerning water, rain water harvesting, conservation of
water, policies prevailing community controlling water resources,
Olive Ridley's, role and beauty of dragonflies, climate change,
pesticide contamination, lignite mining, medicinal plants, coral
reefs, rights of community on their natural resources etc.
· This year four new categories and awards were introduced
in the festival including 'Best film produced by children (Rs 50,000/-),
'Best of the festival (Rs1, 50,000/-), and 'Revelation (about startling
new insights or discovery)' and 'Newcomers' both carrying a citation.
· Recognizing the popularity and support "Vatavaran"
has achieved in a short span of time, the United Nations Environment
Programme (UNEP) has expressed its full "support and backing
to Vatavaran". For the first time CMS & UNEP is recognized
and institutionalized "Prithvi Ratna" award, for "outstanding
contribution" in the field of wildlife and environment filmmaking.
This special award includes a citation and plaque.
· A bewildering 154 entries from filmmakers across the country
posed an enormous challenge to shortlist and nominate the films
for the coveted 'Vatavaran awards' this year. A 30 member strong
Screening and Nomination Committee headed by well-known writer and
columnist Shri Bhaskar Ghose, was constituted for a rigorous and
transparent judging process for the nomination of final entries
under seven different categories.
· Eminent professionals from various fields including cinema,
media, education, environment and wildlife are closely involved
in organizing the festival, prominent being Shri Suresh P. Prabhu,
Shri Samar Singh, Shri J. Veera Raghavan, Shri Kiran Karnik, Shri.
Rajiv Mehrotra, Shri Bittu Sahgal, Dr. Iqbal Malik, and Shri Sahab
· In response to the 'Vatavaran 2003' promotional campaign
being shown on television networks including Doordarshan and Zee
News, (CMS) received more than 4000 enquires which included letters
and phone calls, from the length and breadth of the country. Most
of them were written by children aged (8-15 years), soliciting further
information to participate in the festival.
· CMS has also received requests from several government,
autonomous and non-governmental organizations to host 'Vatavaran'
in their respective cities. Some prominent individual or organizations
like Amol Palekar, CPR Environmental Education Centre (Chennai),
AP Pollution Control Board (Hyderabad), few NGO's in Kolkata, and
Centre for Environment Education, Ahmedabad.
· Some prominent International organizations like United
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Wild Screen (UK), Television
trust for the Environment, Asia Pacific (TVE Asia Pacific), Planet
in Focus (Canada International environment film festival) have expressed
keen interest in collaborating with CMS and be active partner of
'Vatavaran' in the coming years.
ABOUT THE FILM FESTIVAL (NOV 18-20, 2003)
2003", India's exclusive National Environment and Wildlife
Film Festival have received phenomenal response. The three days
began with Special screenings for the children and panel discussion
on issues like "Water crisis: Looking Beyond" and "Promoting
Green Programmes on Indian Television: Planning the route ahead".
The Film Festival got off to a colorful start in a gala inaugural
ceremony. The three day long film festival showcases some of the
best documentaries produced by Indian filmmakers, focusing on conservation
and topical environmental issues. 'Water' is the main theme of the
festival this year.
the film festival the Chief Guest of the ceremony, Shri Vijai Kapoor,
Lt.Governor, Delhi appreciated the effort in organizing the film
festival second year in a row. In his welcome address Mr. Suresh
P. Prabhu, the Chairperson of the Steering Committee 'Vatavaran-2003'
said, "Vatavaran 2003" has evoked an overwhelming 154
film entries from across the country. Second year in running and
such an unprecedented response from the filmmakers fraternity, goes
on to exemplify the producers quest for a appropriate and credible
platform to showcase their works and concerns towards environment.
Vatavaran provides one such opportunity."
showcased some thirty short listed environment and conservation
films, under eight different categories. Highlighting the need to
hold an annual event, Mr. Prabhu said, "Vatavaran-endeavor
is to encourage and nurture a new breed of alternate filmmakers
who are passionate about environmental issues and through films
want to articulate the larger environmental concerns to initiate
a dialogue and debate."
Singh, Social activist and recipient of Magsaysay Award, expressing
his appreciation towards the initiative and said, "Films are
an effective medium to trigger grassroot change, such an effort
should be sustained to educate and spread the message of conservation."
Later he released a catalogue on Vatavaran 2003 with details and
synopsis of the nominated films to be screened during the festival.
Dr. N. Bhaskara
Rao, Chairman, Centre for Media Studies pointed out that the CMS
is organizing the film festival keeping in mind a five-pronged strategy-namely
to encourage filmmakers, to effectively use the powerful audio-visual
media, to sensitize Indian television channels to be more receptive
to the idea, to enthuse young ones and children, and to inculcate
appreciation and concern among the viewers towards environment.
Ms. Nafisa Ali Sodhi, Celebrity & Social activist, expressed
her happiness in being part of this year's festival, she said "We
as Indians need to unite on a common platform and think about Vatavaran
because environment is god given and not the privilege of humans".
She further added that the "films and events like these bring
to the forefront issues facing the environment and bring to the
attention of the young and concerned people the issues at stake."
'Diyas' and a special dance drama "Back to the present"
by Sanskriti school children marked the inauguration of the festival
at the India Habitat Centre. A photo exhibition was also unveiled
under the aegis of Vatavaran 2003. A path breaking film in the field
of conservation 'Shores of Silence-Whale Sharks in India' by Mike
H. Pandey, was screened after the inaugural ceremony, marking the
beginning of the exclusive environment and wildlife film festival.
ON THE PANEL DISCUSSION
--- A Panel Discussion
being an engaging panel discussion on Water crisis: Thinking Beyond.
Initiating the panel discussion, Shri Suresh Prabhu, MP, Chairman,
Interlinking of Rivers stressed on the need to interlink rivers
to solve the water crisis. He said, "Supply of water cannot
be augmented to match its demand, river linkage is a possible solution
to water scarcity".
Addressing the gathering Rajender Singh, Magsaysay Award winner
and Social activist articulated his concerns on the issue. He said,
"I do not support river linking in India." Instead of
linking rivers he suggested "communities be linked to the river".
In a moving speech that spellbound the jam-packed auditorium, Medha
Patkar, eminent social activist questioned the present development
paradigm. She advocated small and micro level projects as the only
way out for the solving the water crisis that is staring the nation
today. She said "not because small is beautiful, but because
small is just, small is manageable, let us start with small".
Questioning the mammoth projects and dam construction she stressed
that the need of the hour is not macro but many micro level projects
at local level.
During the three-hour long panel discussion involving students,
intellectuals and filmmakers, Dr. B. Sengupta, Member Secretary,
Central Pollution Control Board, raised the issue of the water wastage
Indian Television: Planning the Route Ahead
---A Panel Discussion
discussion titled "Promoting Green programmes on Indian Television:
Planning the route ahead", on the lack of relevant, adequate
and quality environmental programmes on Indian television followed
under the auspices of "Vatavaran 2003". Chairing the panel
discussion, Mr.Rajiv Mehrotra, Managing Trustee, Public Service
Broadcasting Trust (PSBT) appreciated the platform provided for
the filmmakers and said, "Vatavaran deserves applause and gratitude
because it is a step forward towards creating demand pull for environmental
programmes." Citing the limitation that Indian environmental
filmmakers face, Eminent environmental filmmaker Mike H Pandey said,"
We make films to make a difference but they have to be seen. We
need support from government and media". Emphasising on the
ethnicity of the filmmakers he observed "Indian perspective
can come only from Indian filmmakers."
Mr. Pankaj Saxena, Programme Director, Discovery on an optimistic
note said", Audience for nature programming is not just substantial
but also growing". Dispelling the myth, he said that even "Hindi
speaking audience is also keen to watch nature programmes".
However he lamented the limited environmental and wildlife programming
on Indian television. Applauding the role of CMS he said "tremendous
credit is due to CMS for starting the debate on environmental issues,
we may not find answers but Vatavaran has tried to create a network
that would persist on finding answers to various environmental issues".
Mr. Desh Deepak Verma, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment
and Forests stressed the need to widen the reach of the environmental
programmes among the television audience. He underlined the fact
that presently the "emphasis is on creating spots and not on
films". He urged private sector to play a more proactive role
in furthering environmental dialogue through electronic media specially
Wildlife Film Making in India: Issues & Challenges
--- A Panel Discussion
panel discussion Mr. Vinod Rishi, additional Director General (Wildlife)
in his address stressed the need for qualitative improvement in
environmental film making in India. He said that "Vatavaran
2003" would give further boost by showcasing the best Environmental
and conservation films produced in India.
filmmaker Naresh Bedi voiced his concerns on the lack of funding
and support. He said, "making wildlife films is not easy, and
there is a lack of support in India to wildlife film makers".
Mr.Himanshu Malhotra, renowned wildlife filmmaker sharing his views
on the issue cautioned the skeptics, he said "since Indian
wild life film makers are making films on meager budgets, they shouldn't
be compared to anyone".
Rao, Chairman, CMS, initiating the discussion emphasized the need
for encouraging and motivating the environment filmmakers in the
country. He said support will come once there is appreciation. "Vatavaran
is one such platform to promote and applaud the environment and
wildlife filmmakers in the country", he added.