Surrounded as they are by the glittering trappings of excess, where materialism appears to pave a golden path to happiness, convincing Dubai’s youth to care for their environment might seem like a colossal challenge. Not so, according to filmmaker Areeba Hanif.
For her final project at the SAE Institute in Dubai, Ms. Hanif set out to measure the power of documentaries (and maybe sci-fi, like EKON?) to educate youth. While she found that most of the emirate’s young people were spectacularly unaware of environmental issues, a quick flick made all the difference.
Ms. Harif told The National that many people in Dubai drive cars instead of using the metro, favor energy-intensive air-conditioning units over fresh air, and rarely recycle. As a filmmaker she was interested to know whether watching films could have a transformative impact on the youth, who, she believes, hold the future of Dubai in their hands.
The 24 year old Pakistani’s research was depicted in an 18 minute film entitled, rather blandly, the UAE’s Environmental Issue and Adolescence. It screened at the third annual Documentary Voices film festival staged by Dubai’s Culture and Arts Authority.
Ms. Hanif found that children and young adults whose environmental knowledge was “disastrous” not only responded favorably, but wished that they had been “forced” to watch the kinds of environmental documentaries that she showed.
These results prompted her to team with another filmmaker, a researcher, and a graphic designer to expand Dubai’s online environmental documentary presence.
Mahshid Zamani, the founder and managing director of Documentary Voices, agrees that the UAE needs more documentaries. Among those shown this year were Chernobyl: A natural history, by Luc Riolon and Ecological Footprint, which was made in the UAE.
Certain films like Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth might have international relevance, but as a former BBC producer Richard Brock with Living Planet Productions has discovered in Africa, empowering the populace with films that correspond to the local culture are likely to have more impact.
:: The National
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