Film, as a medium, is more powerful now than ever before. Its potency amplifies in a world facing unprecedented environmental challenges, where storytelling transcends mere entertainment and transforms into a compelling tool for advocacy and change. Environmental films offer an immersive experience, inviting audiences to witness, reflect upon, and engage with the urgent narratives of our time.
India’s esteemed showcase of contemporary climate stories, the All Living Things Environmental Film Festival (ALT EFF), is a pioneering platform. Through a blend of global virtual streaming and community-based local screenings, ALT EFF offers audiences an intimate glimpse into untold tales of regeneration, activism, crisis, and hope.
In recognising the gravity of the climate crisis, ALT EFF advocates for engaged citizenship and daily behavioural changes. The festival harnesses the power of storytelling within communities — an age-old and potent method of knowledge transfer — to engage its audience.
ALT EFF’s mission is to ignite public discourse on pressing environmental and social issues through informed, creative, and immersive experiences. Groundbreaking films showcased during the festival not only capture the planet’s beauty but also raise awareness about critical environmental issues. The narratives spun through these films inspire viewers to envisage and craft sustainable futures. The festival also fosters important dialogue and debate, encouraging audiences to ponder, question, and exchange ideas.
Set to unfold from December 1 to 10, ALT EFF promises an enriching experience with 62 carefully selected films spanning documentaries, short films, and fictional pieces — each weaving narratives centered on environmental themes.
This year's lineup features notable Indian films that encapsulate pressing environmental concerns. Changing Landscape sheds light on the plight of wetlands due to stone quarrying near Tamil Nadu State’s Bird Sanctuary, while Herd Walk follows nomadic shepherds preserving the connection between civilization and the wild in India’s oldest landscapes. Meanwhile, Against the Tide delves into the struggles of indigenous Koli Fishermen in Bombay, as they grapple with the repercussions of a declining sea.
Famous actor Leonardo DiCaprio's impactful documentary, We Are Guardians, focusing on the Amazon rainforest, will premiere in India at the festival. Directed by Chelsea Greene, Rob Groman, and Edivan Guajajara and supported by DiCaprio, the film chronicles the journey of Indigenous forest guardian Marçal Guajajara and activist Puyr Tembé as they courageously combat deforestation and illegal logging, showcasing their determination to protect the planet's natural resources.
Among the Indian short films featured are Mulostan - The Rooted and Fight with Care. The former chronicles the 32-year struggle of the Vasava tribal community in south Gujarat for their land and forest rights, showcasing their non-violent approach amidst bureaucratic obstacles. Supported by ARCH-Vahini, this movement led to crucial advocacy for tribal rights. Meanwhile, Fight with Care portrays the lives of women from indigenous fishing communities in Chennai's coastal wetlands. It highlights their essential yet undervalued contributions to the local economy through unpaid labor in artisanal fishing, while also shedding light on their efforts to resist encroachments and industrial pollution affecting the delicate coastal ecosystem. These short films offer powerful insights into the challenges faced by marginalized communities and their resilience in preserving their way of life.
A significant highlight of this year's festival is the presence of Oscar-winning filmmaker Kartiki Gonsalves on the jury panel. Renowned for her environmentally conscious documentary The Elephant Whisperers, Kartiki brings invaluable expertise to ALT EFF, aligning with the festival's commitment to showcasing films that echo environmental concerns.
ALT EFF’s reach extends further through a decentralized model, featuring over 40 on-ground screenings across all states in India. This approach, previously successful, merges virtual screenings with in-person events, solidifying connections with cinephiles and environmental advocates alike.
Founder Kunal Khanna expresses boundless excitement about taking ALT EFF to diverse audiences across India. He stresses the urgency of the climate crisis, urging collective engagement, learning, and action.
With its diverse film lineup, esteemed jury, and decentralized approach, the festival endeavours to inspire, inform, and mobilise audiences toward a shared vision — illuminating environmental consciousness through the medium of cinema.
Attend the virtual screenings or local showings and immerse yourself in these impactful stories. Visit the festival's website here for screening schedules and make a difference by engaging with these thought-provoking films firsthand.
If you enjoyed reading this, here's more from Homegrown: