During the COP22 negotiations, a global video competition, Film4Climate, gathered cinema lovers to discuss the effects of climate change on people’s lives all over the world and granted awards to directors and students who spread the message about the need to protect the environment.

Film4Climate jury and winners
Film4Climate jury and winners

How to use the big screen to spread a global message about climate change and its effects? In 2016, during the preparations for the COP22 in Marrakesh, the World Bank launched a film competition for Young directions. The result was Film4Climate, a side event of the COP which received over 860 subscriptions from 155 countries.

Before the award ceremony, the event offered a special screening of “Before the Flood”, a film presented and produced by Leonardo di Caprio, and “Years of living dangerously”, with Gisele Bundchen and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Both movies were pungent and provoked passionate discussions among the participating panelists. Personalities and intellectuals including Brazilian film-maker Fernando Meirelles, actor Christopher Lambert, and Columbia professor Jeffrey Sacks defended the role of cinema as a tool for change for the better. “We need to get actors, media, youth and audiences together around this battle. People who can reach, inspire and educate, so we will be able to promote change now”, said professor Sacks.

“Before the Flood”, a didactic and yet emotional film, portrayed Leonardo di Caprio’s personal story and his early connection with “The garden of Earthly Delights”, a triptych painted by the Dutch Hieronymus Bosch that shows three stages of the world: “paradise” as created by God, earth being dominated by greed and pleasures, and “final damnation”, depicting destruction and chaos. “I had the painting hanged over my bed. That is maybe the reason I became fascinated by species disappearing”, says Leonardo. In the movie, he travels the world showing the social and environmental effects of climate change, in an effort to take people to action – the core message of COP22. Leonardo interviews personalities like Pope Francis, Barack Obama and Ban ki Moon to show that spiritual and political leaders are engaged in the cause.

In “Years of Living Dangerously”, Gisele Bundchen shows the extent of deforestation in Brazil and its intrinsic connections with cattle farming, while Arnold Schwarzenegger discusses the American military efforts to develop clean energy facilities on a global scale, and the challenges they have to face with the Congress. The message of the movie was clear: we, as citizens, can make the world a better place, either through our vote and citizenship, or by other simple actions like changing our consuming habits.

The screenings were followed by panel discussions with invited speakers, notably Hakima El Haite, Delegate Minister of Environment in Morocco and High Level Champion of UNFCCC. “Today, we are facing the most challenging crisis for humanity, and we are asking people to change everything: the way they consume, produce and build. That’s why we need to touch the hearts of people, so we create a revolution of the brain”, she said, stressing that media and cinema are “keys” for this revolution.

The Short Film prize went to “Three Seconds”, from Spencer Sharp, a clip-like video narrated on hip hop rhythms about the effects of human presence on Earth. “We need public policies to change the world. But politicians are elected by people, and we can engage voters with emotions, with our films”, said director Fernando Meirelles, a member of the jury.

Film4Climate is a global campaign of Connect4Climate and World Bank which aims to develop a concrete plan to raise awareness about climate change through cinema, while mitigating the environmental impact of film. The winning entries were awarded cash prizes of USD$8,000, $5,000, and $2,000 for first, second and third, in each of two categories: an under one-minute Public Service Advertisement (PSA) or a Short Film up to five minutes.

Written by Vívian Soares

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