re-telling climate change stories

Fall 2016 Climate Change Film Festival


Rebecca Safran

The fall 2016 class on Film and Climate Change ended with the best possible kind of final exam: a film festival! This is a juried event where students present their final projects - short films on a topic within climate change along with an introductory statement on the science that motivated their work. This year, 15 films were showcased to an audience of about 100. The mood of the event is supportive and celebratory: the students have been through a huge learning process over the course of the term and are both excited and nervous to showcase their work. The films themselves ranged in a number of topics from the highly personal to the highly political.  Each student introduces their project to the audience and panel of judges. Here, they explain not only the science that motivated their films, but also the inspiration behind their projects. This is the best part because a huge goal of this class is to provide the opportunity to explore a personally meaningful topic in order to work on a personally meaningful film. In this regard, all of the films take first prize and I am deeply grateful that I am not the one handing out awards!

Once all of the films are screened, the judges hide away to decide upon the top three prizes as well as those projects deserving of honorable mention. This year, the judges awarded a co-first prize to two amazing films. “Dear Dad”, created by Ellie Milner, is a personal letter to her father about their shared experiences skiing and the potential of losing that connection in the face of climate change. Stephanie Selz wrote and performed a rap piece about climate change entitled “Freeing Earth’s Beings” which is inspiring, beautiful and informative. Second place was awarded to Julius Gayo whose piece “Flexitarian Cow” tells the story of a cow-turned-super-hero who helps people reduce climate change by introducing a more greenhouse gas friendly diet. Third prize was awarded to Jack Elder for his piece “Shifted” which tells us the story of a high on the hog super consumer who has a dramatic change of heart. Honorable mention was awarded to Paulina Arcuri for her piece “Sustainable Beauty – Beautiful Earth” which describes how even the beauty industry can clean up its act by using sustainable ingredients in their products. Brooke Smetanka also received honorable mention for her gorgeously animated piece entitled “Torn” which is a tribute to her dad. Here, she wrestles with reconciling her dad’s occupation in the petroleum industry with his true love and appreciation for our natural world.

The event is not possible without the huge engagement of the entire class and I thank them all sincerely for being open to learning working hard! Ben Crawford was a student in the Film and Climate Change class in Fall 2015 and co-taught this year’s class with me. His help was invaluable from start to finish! Finally, a sincere thanks to this year’s film fest judges: my Inside the Greenhouse partners in crime: Max Boykoff and Beth Osnes, Tyler Jones from the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, and Meridith Richter, an ITG intern and the top prize winner of the 2015 film festival.

Check out our films on our ITG vimeo channel.

student prize winners and judges