BENGALURU: Growing up in Germany, Lena Robra had access to many film festivals on nature, something she noticed India lacked when she moved to Bengaluru in 2012 for her PhD. This compelled her and a team of 6-7 like-minded individuals to come together and launch a film festival themed around rivers and oceans. Titled the Moving Waters Film Festival, the volunteer-run event is in its fourth year, and will be held this weekend.
“Watching these films on a big screen is a different experience. We wanted to give people here an opportunity to see such high-quality content. Some of us might never get to see an ocean, but maybe through film festivals like this, people can get learn about aquatic ecosystems,” explains Robra, who currently coordinates the Bengaluru Sustainability Forum. None of the founding members has a background in filmmaking or marine biology. “It’s a varied team, including an engineer, a personal assistant, a motorbike store owner and a PhD student, that gets together post-work hours to plan this festival,” adds Robra.
Some of the over 25 films being screened are: Wild Austria -- White Water, Blue Water by Rita and Michael Schlamberger, Why Iraq’s Great Rivers are Dying by Sam Ellis and The Lost Fish: Struggle to Save the Pacific Lamprey by Jeremy Monroe and David Herasimtschuk. While the line-up has mainly international films, the aim, says Robra, is to encourage Indian filmmakers to also produce content with local themes. “We do have one film, called Coral Woman, which is by an Indian filmmaker – Priya Thuvassery,” she says. The screening will include a Q&A session with the subject of the film, Uma Mani, a scuba diver who has been exploring the threat to coral reefs of Gulf of Mannar, India.
The festival will also feature talks on microplastic pollution and natural history of whales. The latter will be delivered by Nick Pyenson, a research geologist and curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.
The idea is to help people realise that even if one isn’t physically close to a water body, we are all connected to them. Explains Robra, “We depend on them for life, seafood forms a part of the foodchain, and what we produce ends up in the ocean. Realising this, and making small lifestyle changes, can bring about a change in the aquatic ecosystem.”
The festival will be held on October 19 and 20, from 10am to 8pm, at Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan