Gram Vikas hosts India’s largest Environmental Film Festival


By GV News Desk

15 December 2023

Gram Vikas hosted the All Living Things Environmental Film Festival (ALT EFF), India’s largest environmental film festival. The event showcased a curated selection of Indian and international documentaries and short films on environment, conservation, and sustainability to a rapt audience.

The in-person film screenings took place on 2 and 4 December 2023. The festival locations – Gram Vikas Residential School, Mahendra Tanaya Ashram School (MTA) in Koinpur, in Gajapati, and at Gram Vikas’ Mohuda campus near Berhampur in Ganjam.

The film festival held at MTA School on December 2, 2023, drew an audience of over 125 students from the school ranging from Class VII to Class X. Additionally, approximately 100 students from the Scheduled Tribe & Schedule Caste Development School and the Vikalp programme by Social Shapes Foundation, a doorstep coaching and mentorship initiative for rural adolescents and youth in the Koinpur area, also attended the event.

Students were particularly touched by the film ‘Older than Trees,’ which conveyed the profound message of the human experience, emphasising our coexistence with numerous non-human species and advocating for government legislation to conserve and preserve marine life. Chandini Bhuyan, a student of Class VIII from the MTA school, says, “It was a fascinating movie. The sharks too are beings and we should not fear them. I have started feeling a lot of love for sharks and marine life.”

Another film that resonated with the students was ‘All Day and All Night,’ portraying the relationship a 13-year-old girl shares with water while residing near Ahmedabad’s largest landfill, Pirana. This film delves into the challenges associated with obtaining clean drinking water. “The film made me and my classmates thinking about how we should value the basic things in life like clean drinking water which we otherwise take for granted. The movie was so inspiring,” shared Sudhanshu Sekhar Sabar, a Class IX student of MTA school.

The Mohuda campus, located near Berhampur town in Ganjam district, showcased five inspiring documentaries and films on sustainability offering unique perspectives on the pressing environmental challenges faced by our planet.

This thoughtfully curated selection of compelling films resonated well with the audience, consisting of over 60 students and faculty members primarily from colleges and institutes in the Berhampur area. Attendees included individuals from institutions located in Berhampur town such as the Presidency College, College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Shalom Institute of Management Studies, and staff from Gram Vikas.

A faculty member from Presidency College expressed delight that the students actively participated in such inspiring and thought-provoking films that raise awareness about environmental and social issues. Ranjita Panda, a faculty member from Presidency College, remarked, “Our students enjoyed the movies thouroughly. Those studying social sciences, had the opportunity to visit the Gram Vikas campus as well. It was a day we all really enjoyed.”

Krishna Parija, a student from the same college, was particularly moved by the film “Between The Rains.” She shared, “The film depicts a shepherd boy from a Kenyan tribe, Kolei, whose name translates to ‘living amongst the goats.’ He questions not only his own identity as a warrior but also the erosion of the culture that has shaped every aspect of his life. I felt very emotional watching this movie”

Thomas Sunil, who leads Gram Vikas’ Education and Youth thematic, played a significant role in organising the festival at both locations, namely the MTA school in Koinpur and the Mohuda campus. For him, the most gratifying aspect was the enthusiastic participation of youth from nearby institutions and colleges who thoroughly enjoyed the films. He emphasised  the importance of hosting ALT EFF in Gram Vikas’s ongoing efforts to connect with more youth in the geographic areas where they operate. Thomas stated, “This also contributes to our initiatives in initiating dialogues around climate change. The audience actively engaged in discussions after each movie, drawing connections between the films and their own experiences in their surroundings.”

Liby T. Johnson, the Executive Director of Gram Vikas had this to say about the festival, “ The ALT-EFF film festival was a great opportunity for students in the schools in some remote parts of Odisha and young women and men from around Berhampur to watch some remarkable documentaries on the environment. Gram Vikas is working with rural communities to build awareness and mobilise action on a range of environmental issues, including the effects of climate change on the food and livelihood security of the village communities. The film festival was a good opportunity for us to use a creative medium in this process.”

Bhisma Kumar Bai and Alex Sam Thomas reported the news.

Film screening for the audience in Gram Vikas Mohuda campus.

Photograph shared by Sunil Thomas


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