The two-day fest will focus on global water challenges with a series of film screenings and panel discussions.
The third edition of the Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival will take place on October 22 and 23, 2023, at the Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi. The event is organised in collaboration with the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) and New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD). The festival’s 2023 program aims to raise awareness in the public towards exploring vital environmental issues and fostering a deeper connection to the planet through the art of film.
The event presents a curated selection of ten regional and international films, exploring water’s diverse facets – from its cultural importance to its critical role in our ecosystems. In line with the Year of Sustainability in the UAE and COP28’s vision, this year’s theme of ‘Water’ aims to serve as a reminder of the element’s crucial connection to climate change, ecological equilibrium, and human survival. Through its collaboration with EAD, it spotlights COP28’s goals and promotes a sustainable future for all.
His Excellency Ahmed Baharoon, Executive Director – Environmental Information, Science, and Outreach Management at EAD, underscored the festival’s role in promoting environmental awareness by embedding the themes of sustainability and initiating lasting change in storytelling. The festival further highlights Abu Dhabi’s efforts to mobilise action and engage the community on potential solutions.
Screenings on the first day include the short film The Whelming Sea, a journey into the lives of animals on the sea’s edge, French film The First Days by Stephane Breton, followed by a series of short films from the U.S. and Lebanon, as well as the feature documentary, Stepping Softly on Earth, a compelling story of the struggles of indigenous peoples from Latin America.
The festival presents to the UAE community an early Arab environmental cinema activist–Syrian film director Omar Amiralay. The festival screens his classic film, Everyday Life in a Syrian Village. The evening also showcases other local Arab initiatives from the Reef Festival in Lebanon and the Dibeen Lab in Jordan.
The program’s second day includes an insightful EAD presentation followed by Egyptian short film Drowning Fish, and Indian fiction feature film The Whispers of Fire and Water.
Speaking on the collaboration with EAD and Al Sidr Film Festival, Scandar Copti, CinemaNa Series Curator and Associate Arts Professor of Film at NYUAD, said: “We recognise the power of film as a unique, powerful, and popular form of artistic expression to communicate complex issues and inspire change. Environmentally themed films challenge us to think deeply about the world and our place in it, and NYAD champions this kind of thought-provoking platforms, such as Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival, especially during the Year of Sustainability, which is a theme underpinning much of our programming this season.”
Reflecting on the festival’s evolution, Dr. Nezar Andary, Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences, Filmmaker, and Artistic Director of Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival, commented: “As we gather for this special edition of the Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival, we are reminded of our journey and our purpose as a catalyst for change. This year, we delve into the critical theme of water, examining its pivotal role in our world with a pragmatic and global approach. We believe it’s the role of artists and gifted communicators to help inspire and stimulate audiences to understand the threats to our planet. We want to make them more textured and intimate. This year’s program is a mix of Middle Eastern films and retrospective films from the Arab world. The festival continues to be our platform to inspire greater understanding and action in the face of climate change.