The second edition of the Sidr Environmental Film Festival, organized by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi and Zayed University, with the support of ADNOC and the British Council in the United Arab Emirates, will kick off at Manarat Al Saadiyat from February 24-27. A selection of award-winning Emirati and international films will be screened as part of the festival’s program. This year, Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival focuses on the theme of the "Oasis Paradox", to shed light on the environmental issues in the oases, which are a vital part of the history and geography of the UAE, and how human interventions and development have led to the deterioration of the environment and severe impacts on human health. Herein lies the paradox of how precious water is to life, especially in the oases, yet it can cause serious issues, that are commonly known as the sustainability paradox. On the opening day, a roundtable discussion titled "Thinking with the Atmospheric", Led by Zayed University professors, will be held.
In its 2022 edition, Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival’s program includes 20 films that are screened free to the public. For the opening, the Emirati film “Honey, Rain and Dust” directed by Nujoom Al-Ghanem (2017) was selected. The film "Footsteps on the Wind", which tackles the suffering of refugees, through children who cling to their dreams, will also be screened during the festival.
The festival’s film selection covers many important environmental issues and topics, such as M’hamid Oasis Morocco: Restoring, Recording and Inventorying the Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage (2019), which revolves around documenting the restoration and recording the work carried out by an international team of researchers and volunteers in the remote oases of the Draa Valley, on the edge of the Sahara Desert in Morocco. The festival also debuts the acclaimed documentary “I Am Greta”, internationally co-produced by Cecilia Nessen and Frederick Heinig (2020), which covers the remarkable rise of climate change activist, Greta Thunberg.
Her Excellency Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary General of the Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi said: "Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival supports the continuous endeavours of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to raise awareness of the environmental challenges and include the local community in finding potential solutions. The festival supports a culture that’s mindful of the environment and presents our experiences and also global experiences in addressing climate change. This year, the festival focus comes on the topic of "Oasis Paradox" which sheds light on some of the repercussions of the great development boom in Abu Dhabi from an environmental perspective, including the destruction of habitats, and the excessive use of resources. We were pleased with the great turn out during the 2020 festival, we expect the 2022 edition to be as successful, given the diversity of films on offer which has board appeal to large segments of the community.”
Dr. Fares Howari, Dean of College of Natural Science and Humanities, Zayed University said, " Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival 2022 kicks off in a few days, and we expect the community to be interested in the diverse film selection and to participate in the roundtable discussions that will be held throughout the festival. We are convinced of the important and inspiring role that cinema plays in shaping the awareness and experiences of the younger generations, so all films have been carefully selected to contribute to wide-spread understanding of environmental issues through a rich and moving experience. We anticipate that the second edition will be as popular as the 2020 festival, and that its message will resonate with a wide segment of the community."
Dr Nezar Andary, Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences, filmmaker and the Artistic Director of Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival added "Cinema is an incredible tool to trigger discussion and dialogue. The mission of Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival is to use cinematic art to spark this debate on critical environmental and social issues and ensure accurate understanding of what is at stake for humanity. Under the leadership of the Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi and Zayed University, this year’s diverse festival curation includes remarkable films that fulfil our mission perfectly."
Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival 2022 includes two feature films, the Lebanese film "Costa Brava", directed by Mounia Akil (2021), and the film "Son of Monarchs" by Alexis Gambis, a professor at New York University Abu Dhabi. "Invisible Demons", for Indian director Rahul Jain, which debuted at the Cannes International Film Festival in 2021, will also be screened at the festival.
Part of Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival’s mission is to bring together the local community and mobilise action on important environmental and social issues. The festival includes academic roundtables, such as “Thinking with the Atmospheric”, which brings together a group of scientists, political scientists, and artists led by Dr. Alexandra Cotofana, Assistant Professor, Humanities and Social Science, Zayed University, to address a range of topics including, the politics behind caring for the atmosphere and the connections between mankind and the environment. The festival will also organize virtual screenings of a selection of films in various Abu Dhabi schools to engage young minds and involve students in the dialogue on climate change and the environment.