Green Abu Dhabi Film Festival Raises Ecological Awareness

polluting paradise screenshot from film Movie stars shone on Abu Dhabi red carpets, where the curtain rose on a pair of green films connected to the Middle East.

This year’s Abu Dhabi film festival featured two green-themed films aimed at raising awareness of a decidedly un-Hollywood subject: global waste management. Both movies, Trashed and Polluting Paradise, were sponsored by sustainable innovations company Masdar. Trashed follows British actor Jeremy Irons as he globe-trots from Lebanon to Iceland to some of the most visually arresting and disturbing scenes of garbage devastation. Exquisite cinematography and thought-provoking interviews place a frightening scale on our reckless trash generation.  Peek at the path our garbage takes once it leaves our trash bins. Director Candida Brady’s global perspective on pollution is a powerful reminder of our shared responsibility.

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Turkish-German director Fatih Akın’s documentary on landfills is set in Çamburnu, a mountain village on the Black Sea coast where villagers have lived for centuries cultivating tea and fishing.  The festival website describes Polluting Paradise as shining a “spotlight on a devastating hazard that threatens this idyllic environment: the decision by the Turkish government, made ten years ago, to establish the region’s largest garbage landfill on the outskirts of the town.”

The film tracks transformation of once-lush plantations into barren desert with polluted air, contaminated groundwater, and residual waste flowing to the sea. Akın’s film focuses on villager activism as they protest against policymakers and strive to stem the environmental degradation.

“The film is about human stupidity,” Faith Akın says, “(and) about civil courage.”

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Both films (with screeners above) challenge our passivity regarding our constant contribution to the world waste stream. By raising awareness, these movies provide an appropriate opening act for next January’s Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

That event will attract 30,000 participants from 150 countries to for  the largest gathering on sustainability in the history of the Middle East.