Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Report from Amsterdam - IDFA

Here's a snip from Danny Schechter's News Dissector blog, a very worthy piece of journalism in the real sense of the word.

Take a good look at the IDFA (Independent Documentary Film Amsterdam) site, too. Very well done and extremely informative.



Kookie Habtegaber, an Eritrean student studying in Holland is covering the annual IDFA documentary festival for us:

”It is in the middle of November and 18 degrees here in Amsterdam. The good thing about this: I can walk with my coat and enjoy this typical ‘early summer weather’, only now the scenery looks different. The worrying part: it brings climate change so close to home. It is in this context I went to see the green documentary The Planet.

“The effect of global warming and the ensuing climate change has been an important issue in the past 20 years or so. What is has surprised me is the fact that Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth”, has been able to move the complacency of the average citizen to the ‘recognition/realization’ state. Why did this elicit more action from politicians and the public whilst many environmental activists and experts have been trying to put it on top the agenda for many years? I was thus curious to see what new information this documentary was going to show.

The film does not contain so much new information if one has been following the topic; rather it links up other political issues with environmental issues.

One such point highlighted by George Monbiot is the role of television in manipulating nature films and giving the impression that there are vast areas around the globe where animals and plants live in isolation and without the intrusion of humans in their habitat. But to my utter amazement, I discovered some zebras have the same horizon as I do when I look out of my urban window: factories, cars, and concrete walls. Similarly, the film showed the power of close ups and framing; animals in the zoo could be depicted as if they are filmed in the wilderness, nor are humans present in these footages, giving the wrong impression on the state of affairs; unrealistic view.

Another point that I picked up was made by Professor Daly, professor of Economics at Maryland University. He emphasized the role of economics in fostering consumption by ever emphasizing economic growth as the bloodline of survival of mankind, but without posing the question on how far this growth can be taken as a positive factor. How do we factor in the negative effect of economic growth, which has become synonymous with more consumption?

Unfortunately the film does not interview and in any way bring the business community into the picture, whilst I believe this is the group that needs to be engaged if there is to any real change.

Finally most of experts that were interviewed and who gave their opinion were all western scholars while the countries and regions that are directly being affected non-western countries. It would be have been useful and interesting to know what and how local experts see the situation and also in what way indigenous conservation methods could help in mitigating further degradation.

One thing that was very obvious however, is the global environmental interdependence that has become apparent. This message is never repeated enough.

:End Quote
from News Dissector


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