The SECURE Himalaya Project organised at 9 th CMS VATAVARAN Traveling Festival and Forum from July 28 to 31, 2021 at the city of Leh, UT of Ladakh. It was part of a series of SECURE Himalaya Project supported under 9 th CMS VATAVARAN Travelling Film Festival and Forum being organised in four Himalayan cites of Uttarkashi, Gangtok, Shimla and Leh.
The festival was organised by SECURE Himalaya project of UNDP, with support from the Department of Forest, Union Territory of Ladakh, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change(MOEFCC), GOI, in collaboration with CMS VATAVARAN. The idea behind this festival and forum was to use films to engage wide range of stakeholders on conservation issues and to provide a platform for highlighting the SECURE Himalayas initiatives and programs.
The four-day green film festival and forum was organised at the Lotsava Auditorium, Ladakh cultural Academy, Leh, which was inaugurated on July 28, 2021 by Dr. Pawan Kotwal, IAS, Principal Secretary (Health/Revenue/Planning, Dev & Monitoring/Forest) UT of Ladakh. Others present in the inaugural ceremony were Shri Preet Pal Singh, Chief Wildlife Warden, Department of Wildlife Protection, Union Territory of Ladakh and the Project Head, Secure Himalayan Project Ladakh, Mr Sabyesachi Bharti, Deputy Director, CMS VATAVARAN. Members of the Secure Himalayan Project Leh were also present during the ceremony.
The event began with presentation of Khataks, plant saplings and mementos to all the dignitaries. Sabyesachi Bharti, Deputy Director, CMS VATAVARAN, welcomed all the participants. He mentioned “The Himalayas and specially the Ladakh region is highly sensitive towards climate change and need special conservation efforts by all, including each citizen. Climate change is rapidly altering the farming of the region and hence effecting the livelihood of the locals. Festivals like CMS VATAVARAN are not only a mere occasion to celebrate the beauty & biodiversity, but also provides a platform to introspect what we all collectively can do to conserve the same.”
“Heroes of the Wild Frontiers: The Return of the Shan”, by Award winning filmmaker Mr Krishnendu Bose was the inaugural film of the festival. The film talked about the Snow Leopard conservation efforts and about Khenrab Phutsong, a remarkable forest guard in Hemis National Park, Ladakh.
During the first two days of this four-day SECURE Himalaya supported 9th CMS VATAVARAN traveling film festival, 25 award winning films on wildlife and Himalayan ecosystem were showcased among the forest officials, civil society members, students, and general public. The screening was organised at the Lotsava Auditorium, Ladakh cultural Academy, Leh.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the screenings had been divided into two sessions of three hours each per day where only fifty people were permitted by the DC, Leh to attain each session. Therefor in the two-days of film screenings, each session was dedicated to different groups. First session was dedicated to the forest officials, second to students, third to the army & civil society members and the last session was open to general public.
Day one screening ended with a prayer by the young monks from Changchup Choling Nunnery monastery of Zangla, Zanskar. Day two which was also the last day of the screening, ended with a prize and felicitation ceremony. A total number of five institutions participated and more than 200 participants attended the film festival with full zeal.
During the film-festival, on the first day of the festival, on the spot Quiz and Painting competition was organised for the schools and college students of Leh. The quiz competition was on the issue of environment and climate change.
The theme for the painting competition was environment conservation and Ladakh ecosystem. Due to the strict Covid protocol, only 15 students from three different schools of Leh were participated in the painting competition and around 50 school and college students were participated in quiz contest in Lotsava Auditorium, Ladakh cultural Academy, Leh.
Along with a range of interactive activities like painting and quiz competition, all the participants got prizes in the quiz competition.
On the second day of the festival, the film screenings ended with the Prize and felicitation ceremony. In this ceremony member of Leh Film Society and the winners of drawing and painting competition were felicitated and awarded by Shri Preet Pal Singh, Chief Wildlife Warden, Department of Wildlife Protection, Union Territory of Ladakh.
In his speech, Shri Preet Pal Singh congratulated all the winning students and appreciated the efforts of the rest of the students. He also said that the issues of biodiversity, environment and wildlife conservation are very important and we should conserve our biodiversity and wildlife in this fragile Himalayan region of Ladakh.
As a part of the SECURE Himalaya Project 9th CMS VATAVARAN traveling film festival, on July 30, 2021, a Media Outreach Session / Panel Discussion on “Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on Climate Change Reporting and Himalayan Ecosystem” was organised at Lotsava Auditorium, Ladakh cultural Academy, Leh. The session began with the participant’s introductions and interactions by Mr Sabyesachi Bharti, Deputy Director, CMS VATAVARAN.
Addressing all media persons Mr Bharti said, “CMS VATAVARAN is always concerned about the empowering of the journalist so that they can write authentically about the various environmental issues, who often don’t have information about data, access to experts and reports.” He talked about the various workshops CMS had conducted in all over the country and specially the Himalayan States of India. He also gave the example of sources, websites, and online media manual where they could access all kind of information for their stories.
While interacting with the media fellows, internationally acclaimed Ladakhi Filmmaker Mr. Stanzin Dorjai of The Shepherdess of the Glaciers fame said, “media engagement and workshop is a great opportunity for the journalists and filmmakers of Ladakh. It gives them an opportunity to highlight the issues related to climate change reporting in the Ladakh and what people are doing to cope with them.”
During the workshop Rinchen Angmo, presidents of Press Club of Leh and Ladakh expressed her concerns regarding the unavailability of a newspaper printing press in the Ladakh reign and how it affects the local newspapers. She said, “It’s important to know how to write the authentic environmental stories and articles but the unavailability of the newspaper printing press in the Leh is a big problem for the newspaper publication and circulation in the area and that is why the vernacular papers are virtually dead and is a great concern for us.”
More than 15 media journalists from major organisation such as AIR, DD Leh, State Times, JK 24*7 News, ‘Ladakh in the Media’ online portal and others attended the media seminar and praised that this kind of workshops and trainings are much needed in Leh.
On the third day of the festival, July 30, 2021, a capacity-building / orientation workshop on “Role of Storytelling, films and Social Media in Conservation” by internationally acclaimed Award-Winning Guerrilla Filmmaker/ Director Jalal Ud-Din Baba was organised at Lotsava Auditorium, Ladakh cultural Academy, Leh.
This workshop was organised specially for the young students, media participants and forest officials interested to learn the different aspects of the storytelling; they also learnt how films could be a powerful tool for conservation.
While addressing to the students, Mr. Baba discussed about the effective ways to become an independent filmmaker. With the help of clippings of his various films, he explained the power of a story and the minute details of the storytelling techniques. He has also explained in brief about how to use the filming equipment in a remote area and a brief guide to post-production too.
During the workshop, participants were divided in 6 groups and asked to come up with story ideas and the treatment relevant to the Ladakhi environmental concerns and culture. They have given twenty minutes to do this. Later the groups were presented their stories and treatments. Question answer session was done and the queries were resolved by Mr Jalal. The objective of this green film workshop was to guide the young generation about making environment-related film, to creating awareness on the issues of conservation and wildlife.
On the fourth and last day of the festival, July 31, 2021, a special capacity-building workshop for the students of Mass Communication and Journalism, Eliezer Joldan Memorial College Leh was organised. The topic of this special session was “Ethics and morality in the environmental and wildlife filmmaking and reporting.”
Rinchen Angmo, presidents of Press Club of Leh, Stanzin Namdol, Representative, SECURE Himalaya Program Ladakh, Jala Ud Din Baba, Award Winner Guerrilla-Filmmaker and Ms. Hajira Bano, Assistant Professor, Mass Communication and Journalism, Eliezer Joldan Memorial College Leh and Phunchok Toldan, Secretory, Ladakh Film Society were participated as resource speakers. Session was moderated by Mr Sabyesachi Bharti, Deputy Director, CMS VATAVARN. This session was organised at the Multipurpose Hall of EJM College.
Moderating the session Mr. Sabyesachi Bharti said that “Students of Mass communication and Journalism are the future heroes and they have the power to change the narratives of different subjects in the country. They also have an ethical responsibility towards their topics. When it comes about the environmental filmmaking and reporting it becomes more difficult. It requires the acknowledgement and acceptance of the work ethics such as truthfulness of the subject material and dutiful and non-exploitative filming relationships. Audiences are characteristically unconcerned about filmmaking ethics, particularly in reference to environmental, wildlife and educational films. It is, however, under these categories that some of the most serious ethical and moral grievances have taken place.”
According to Mr Jalal Ud -Din Baba “Wildlife and environmental filmmaking involve perhaps the most complicated issues of ethics and morality due to the position of its subjects. Generally, the subjects whether it’s a situation or an environmental movement or the wildlife, cannot control their representation by the filmmakers, nor can they give consent to their dealings with filmmakers. We may question that why is the concern about ethics and morality in environmental or wildlife filmmaking? The violations of ethics in this field have an effect on the spread of educational information and human-environmental relations.”
Talking to the students Rinchen Angmo, presidents of Press Club of Leh said “instead of the over-simplified notion of providing ‘balance’ in reporting on news involving differing perspectives, journalists increasingly, and rightly, take their clues from the leading and acknowledged scientific experts when it comes to the facts and causes of global climate change”
A total of 20 students participated in this workshop. At the end of the workshop, a participation certificate was presented to all the participants
The four-day festival ends with a Special Round Session with the members of Ladakh Film Clubs / Societies on the subject of “The impact of COVID-19 on the local conservation Film Scenario.
Ten senior filmmakers and office bearers of different Film Societies of Ladakh like Phunsuk Ladakhi, senior actor from Ladakh, Phunchok Toldan, Secretory, Ladakh Film Society, and acclaimed Ladakhi Filmmaker Mr. Stanzin Dorjai along with CMS VATAVARAN Deputy Director Mr Sabyesachi Bharti and acclaimed Guerrilla filmmaker Mr Jalal Ud-Din Baba participated in this special round session. During the session, topics like current environmental and conservation filmmaking scenario and available venues in the UT of Ladakh were discussed.
Due to ongoing pandemic the banners and posters of the festival were put in a limited numbers on the important locations across the city like the Mall Road market and the EJM College.
CMS VATAVARAN team has promoted the festival extensively on the various social media platforms i.e., YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and CMS VATAVARAN Facebook page and profile and its various like-minded relevant groups with the help of event creation, cross posting of DMs, and by organising watch party during the film screenings which resulted in creating a buzz around the viewers and generating interest in the film screening.
The 9th CMS VATAVARAN Film Festival 2021, Leh was covered widely by newspaper dailies and social media sites. The festival had more than 15 print media coverage. Newspaper dailies were present during the festival and covered the festival & its programmes.
Among the prominent ones were JK24x7News, DD Kashir, AIR Leh, Jagran.com, Reach Ladakh Bulletin and many more. The festival’s inaugural ceremony was covered by AIR Leh, DD Kashir and other news television channels.