In a first, Dhaka-based Goopy Bagha Productions Limited, collaborated with Mumbai-based Indian Documentary Foundation to collaboratively organise the maiden edition of the Climate Story Lab - South Asia 2022 IMPACT LAB. The 6-month program culminated in a 3-day intensive virtual lab on March 22-23-24, 2022, that brought together 11 projects from across 5 nations from South Asia. The Lab was attended by over 75 unique participants from across the world, with a significant audience retention ratio of 66.6%. The CSL-SA 2022 was unique in not just offering support to mediamakers but also helping create a cross-national community offering resources and mentorship to independent climate storytellers from the subcontinent.
The highlights of the Climate Story Lab - South Asia 2022 IMPACT LAB may be summarised as below:
by Christoph Pohl
Synopsis: Ever Slow Green tells the story of a 50-years-young tropical forest that evolved in Auroville, South India, through some of the diverse people who dedicate their lives to bringing it to fruition.
by Siddharth Behl
Synopsis: The Silent Disaster is an ongoing photo documentary project that scopes an opportunity to document the lives of the nomadic tribe 'Changpas'; residing in the highest altitude of the Himalayan range facing the brunt of climate change impact. The project deals with documenting the existence of the Changpa culture that is feared to vanish in coming years, impacting the pashmina producing Changra sheep and an intricate system that has existed for centuries.
by Haya Fatima Iqbal
Synopsis: When clouds start to appear on the roof of the world and it begins to drizzle, 35-year old Shahbano, resident of Badswat village in Gilgit Baltistan, starts to shiver. She starts hearing the sound of thunder and lashing rains in her head, and her body goes numb. Shahbano has post-traumatic stress from a glacial outburst that hit her village in 2018, submerging Shahbano’s entire village. She and all her neighbours now live in temporary shelters, braving harsh winters at minus 20 degrees Celsius in barely liveable conditions.
Every summer when the sun starts to shine its brightest in Gilgit Baltistan, the people of Darkut valley experience climate anxiety. They fear that as the sun’s intensity increases, the two glaciers near them will start melting rapidly and their village will be hit by a flood yet again. 45-year-old Nusrat works at a public dispensary in Darkut and every time there is a flood, he has to deal with people lining up to him asking for sleeping pills. They can’t sleep because they have lost their property, farm and cattle to a flood, yet again. Nusrat wants to leave his village forever but, unlike his elder brothers he must stay back for his elderly parents who love Darkut so much that for them, leaving home and moving elsewhere is a sign of weakness and cowardice.
Zarb Ali, 70 is a poet from Darkut, and is blind. He is a climate migrant now living in Hatoon, where an NGO built houses for people like him after a huge flood destroyed his village. Back in his hometown, he knew the ways and the streets so well that he could walk, socialise and work on his farm all on his own. But here in Hatoon, he feels his disability in a way that is more pronounced than ever.
Shahbano, Zarb Ali and Nusrat are all residents of district Ghizer, which is one the most prone districts to climate disasters and is host to a simmering mental health crisis. It has had the highest rates of suicides in the past seven years. The film explores how climate change has an impact on the mental health of mountain communities affected by climate disasters, through a human lens.
by Anupama Mandloi
Synopsis: Artists from different art disciplines under the guidance of a community representative, marine researchers and coral reef conservationists, will come together to create a two-piece art installation on climate change, inspired by the CoralWoman documentary. The purpose of this residency will be to create awareness and point the youth in the direction of action.
by Santasil Malik (director) & Hyash Tanmoy (Producer)
Synopsis: Some years back, Bahadur Rupali, the sarpanch of Simlabari village in the Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh incited his community to take collective action against the increasing water crisis in the area. As an imperative, the villagers invoked the bygone Bhil tradition of Halma, where all the community members are obliged to help each other by contributing their manual labour. To prevent groundwater depletion in the area, thousands of villagers voluntarily climbed the surrounding Hathipawa hills to build contour trenches and collect rainwater during the monsoons. Thereafter, it became an annual ritual, leading to considerable rainwater during the monsoons. Thereafter, it became an annual ritual, leading to the considerable improvement of water supply in the area over the years.
This film is a meditation on the impacts of renewing an indigenous ritual as a community practice to fight the adverse effects of climate change. It depicts an ingenious way of encountering global problems from a local perspective, tracing how traditional knowledge can develop into sustainable development practice. As a prototype for rainwater harvesting and preservation, the spirit of performing Halma communicates an empowering perspective about renewing indigenous practices. On a cultural plane as well, the folk songs, riddles, local stories, and myths have gradually taken the shape of ecological themes and motifs circling around climate challenges. Therefore, apart from fostering socio ecological changes, the practice of Halma is equally felt on the revival of cultural forms. Moreover, this practice has provided impetus to more collective forms of labour where community members have started producing indigenous crafts during the annual Halma, hence, creating new economic corridors for entrepreneurs in the MSME and SME sector. In all, the film tries to highlight a model practice to motivate communities across geographical and cultural boundaries while collectively innovating a tool to find an alternative to fight the climate crisis.
by Jamyang Wangchuk
Category: Docuseries and Cycling Campaign
Synopsis: Jamyang bikes to a mountain and sources glacial melt-water into an empty plastic bottle. The bottle stands for plastic pollution and the melt-water symbolises the rapidly melting Himalayan glaciers. Carrying the bottle, he will cycle across Bhutan and film the journey into a docu series titled, 'The Messenger'.
by Ragini Nath
Synopsis: Barekuri, a biodiversity hotspot of the Northeast Indian state of Assam, is home to India's only ape species, the Hoolock Gibbons. Following Sidhanta's intricate journey, Our Hoolocks becomes a symbolic story that highlights the connection between wildlife and human worlds, representing the endangered gibbons as the premonition of humanity's future.
by Neelima Vallangi and Deej Philips
Country: India (story based in Nepal)
Synopsis: Three character-driven human interest stories show the complex ways in which climate change-fuelled flooding and drought intersects with existing societal, economic and infrastructure inequalities. The three stories clearly show how water plays a huge role in our lives in the right amount but any change can have huge negative implications. Climate scientists, experts and activists from Nepal provide the necessary context to understand exactly how climate change is wreaking havoc here and what is needed from the developed world so Nepal can have a secure future as global warming gathers pace.
by Afroza Hossain Sara
Synopsis: A mother and a child whale carcasses are found on the polluted beach of a barren island by the native fishermen. As the fishermen try to cut open the mother whale’s carcass, the spirit of the whale child rises up in agony and sings an aching song.The song incites all creatures of the island and the sea to forsake the fishermen by ravaging themselves before rising as spirits and joining the whales into the unknown.
by Sourav Sarangi
Synopsis: Living in different islands, amateur archaeologist Bimal, hunter Biren and single mother Munira share an existential crisis as The Sundarbans battle an undeclared climate emergency. While remaining pariahs among global climate activists, will they find new homes when the rising sea drowns the hopes of five million islanders like them?
by Pinky Brahma Choudhury
Synopsis: The new variety of seeds promises high yields but demands high inputs of water and chemical fertilisers and pesticides. This in turn leads to heavy exploitation of groundwater unleashing unforeseen agricultural crises and wanton ecological disaster, leaving the farmers vulnerable to vagaries of uncertain climate situations.