'Faces of Climate Resilience', a 16-part short documentary series produced by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), has won the prestigious 2023 CMCC Climate Change Communication Award "Rebecca Ballestra" in Florence, Italy on November 16.
The documentary series directed by Keralite Shawn Sebastian was produced in partnership with India Climate Collaborative, Edelgive Foundation and Drokpa Films.
The jury noted that 'Faces of Climate Resilience' has given a voice to the ordinary people of India who are putting up a strong resistance against climate change through the art form of documentary. The jury also said that the project gave a human face to the science-intensive concept of climate change.
“The award is a great recognition. The project, which was completed in about a year and a half, allowed me to witness the problems faced by the common man due to climate change. Their determination and courage to overcome any calamity is an inspiration,” director Shawn Sebastian said.
Coping with climate change
The documentaries focus on how Indians are coping with the challenges posed by climate change. In a period spanning over nine months in 2021-22, these documentary makers covered some of India’s most climate-vulnerable states — Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, and Uttarakhand — and captured 16 diverse stories.
The stories include a women's collective in Odisha replanting trees along a cyclone-prone coast, a mahila mangal dal in Uttarakhand working with local forest officials in combating forest fires, and a youth group in suburban Mumbai sensitizing slum dwellers about climate change and more.
The tales from Kerala included the flood prevention plan prepared by Cheruthoni in Idukki after the 2018 damage, the story of a labourer Idukki who walked back to life after losing everything to landslides, the method of building taller houses to overcome the flood in Kuttanad, the losses suffered by the weavers of Chendamangalam in the flood, etc. As a common element, all films put forward an angle of resilience that the communities are adopting in the face of climate change.
The CMCC foundation established with the support of Italian Ministries of Education and Environment gives the award for works of broadcast art related to climate change. The project stood out among 372 entries (and 25 finalists) from over 50 countries. Notable competitors included the World Bank, EU Climate Action, Climate Central, architectural firm Stefano Boeri Architetti, and artist Thijs Biersteker. The CMCC Foundation, established in 2005 with the support of the Italian Ministries of Education and Environment, sponsors the award.
Currently, the Goethe-Institut is screening the films in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as part of their Science Film Festival. Over the last year, FCR has won awards at the Docs Without Border International Festival and the Aravali International Film Festival.