It will take a community effort to bring real behavioural change towards the environment says Green Screen Film Festival founder Carver Bacchus.
Bacchus said in his five years of hosting the environmentally conscious exposé he has learnt that people are as inclined to follow good examples as they are bad ones.
“People are inclined to do the right thing if their neighbour is doing the right thing. This means we can affect people with good behaviour the same way you can with bad,” Bacchus told an attentive group of filmmakers, environmentalists and supporters during the launch of the 2019 edition of the festival, on Tuesday, at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s.
He argued that if behaviour is impacted significantly enough there will be an eventual tipping point and littering and pollution in this country can be reduced.
“First you must do the right thing. It’s about a group of people who all want the same thing. It doesn’t mean that you are always in perfect alignment, but because we want the same things so badly successful movements focus on the goals rather than personalities,” he said.
The Green Screen Environmental Film Festival is the only one of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean. It has been bringing local, regional and international environmentally conscious films to audiences across T&T since its inception in 2011.
Red wins again
The 2019 edition of the festival also saw the return of the Very Short Shorts (VSS) competition which invited filmmakers and the public at large to submit one-minute films on saving the environment.
Renaldo “Red” Frederick’s Eden Eaten was the winner of the VSS mobile film competition. Red topped 25 entries to collect the Jury Award: Overall winner and $12,000 first prize from sponsor bmobile. It was the second successive win for the young filmmaker/poet.
Janis Mollineau received the 2019 Jury Award: Youth Winner title and $5,000 from FilmTT with her film Compost It. The award is presented to entrants between the ages of 12-25 years old.
Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Clarence Rambarath called the festival an excellent initiative when he brought official greetings at Queen’s Hall on opening night.
“I think it’s excellent in all regards, the opening, the selection of movies, the categories, the quality of everything including the Facebook page which is second to my Facebook page for the quality of material, PR marketing and all,” Rambarath said to loud applause.
The Agriculture Minister said, however, it is disheartening to see that the festival is largely under-patronised yearly.
“Still the Green Screen Film Festival is under-patronised. It is free and still people have great difficulties getting out of their bed and off their phones and into a theatre or an outdoor setting to see what we create locally and what we create internationally.
“It says a lot about us, on social media we are the experts of everything. In ole talk and time wasting we have the PhDs in that, but supporting, creating ideas and something that is good as a country we have a problem with that. And maybe Carver you should have it in a church next time. Maybe you should show some skin,” he said alluding to the recent scandal where a designer showed a revealing line of clothing at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port of Spain.
The festival screened Jon Kasbe’s critically acclaimed film When Lambs Become Lions on opening night. Set against the Kenyan government programmes to protect that country’s elephants, the film explores the human and environmental tolls of the illegal ivory trade.
Bacchus said messages like those shared by Kasbe must be repeated to be remembered. Only by repeating things enough will messages stick, he said.
“Because messages are understood and accepted doesn’t mean behaviour will change. Behaviour change takes a real intervention that goes to the heart. Show me how my behaviour impacts my life and the lives of those I love. This is the only way to change behaviour.
He said it is also important to deliver these messages by allowing people to tell their own stories.
“In our society stories are a major part of our culture. It’s how we communicate across generations and the sweetness of the story is the telling, retelling and embellishing. Our stories told via film and digital media is one way to ensure our society and our natural heritage persists.
Bacchus acknowledged it would take more than a film or a festival to change behaviour. He said the more people that repeat the message, however, the greater its penetration in having a societal impact.
“This is not something to be achieved with one film or one festival alone, but sustained communication efforts aimed at the heart eventually break through and can be transformational for a society,” he concluded.