10 Inspiring Climate Films Win Action4Climate Documentary Competition
The $15,000 top prize, in the 18 - 35 age category, went to the Portuguese filmmaker Gonçalo Tocha for his film The Trail of a Tale. This documentary revolves around a letter written in the future to society today.
The nearly four-minute short film is captivating as the narrator tells us, the stranger, how things went right. Society gathered with a fundamental belief that the “purpose of the economic system is to improve the well-being for all within the limits of what the planet can sustain … We had to deal with overconsumption first. The prices we paid for things had to reflect the social and environmental costs…”
See the brilliance of this film for yourself by watching it here:
I had the chance to interview filmmaker Gonçalo Tocha about his award-winning documentary.
Q. How long have you been making films?
I started in 2000, at the University of Lisbon, with a video collective. I learned by myself and by watching others filming. During those years I was testing and experimenting with various formats. Just in 2007 I adventured myself in making a feature film.
Q. What made you interested in filmmaking?
First my love for watching films, and then the possibilities that cinema has to enlarge life and to make people greater than real life.
Q. What were the biggest challenges to producing your film? What was the most rewarding part?
The biggest challenge was to think of the right images to communicate a clear message. Something important was to be said. Words are losing sense and there are just too many images nowadays, so in the end it is language that is losing meaning. In this way, the text was the beginning, and so that´s why we found a way to film the text, with the participation of the street artist ±MAISMENOS± (Miguel Januário). Only then came the music, the soundtrack and finally the other images.
Q. Climate change is impacting the world in a multitude of ways, and around the world people are continuously adapting and finding ways to make a positive impact. So there are a lot of different stories to tell. What made you interested in telling this one?
In this particular case I was invited by Imagine2020—Arts and Climate Change in association with the New Economics Foundation to make a short video inspired by the New Economic Foundation's report The Great Transition. It is a 100-page report talking about how things could work out right if we change society's paradigm of living, focusing on the prices of goods, on fair trade, the sustainable and especially the end of oil addiction. I was moved by it and instead of taking just one point of the report, I tried to condense its overall spirit to tell a tale of "how things actually worked out right," like a letter from someone in the future directed to us in our present/their past.
Do you think youth have more of an obligation to speak out on climate change than other age groups? Why or why not?
If youth had a voice yes, but normally who are heard are the older people. Who commands the economic and political destiny of our world are people who are at least 50 years old. The only solution is that my generation and the younger generations do not make the same mistakes.
Do you plan to make another film? If so, will the topic center on climate change or related environmental issues?
I took a little pause from filmmaking this year, but I plan to return soon to the archipelago of the Azores (where I made my two first films Balaou and It's the Earth not the Moon) to make a trilogy on these archipelago. Azores is composed of nine amazing Atlantic islands, between Europe and America. It is the homeland of my family, and so for me it is my perfect human and natural landscape to talk about the world.
What impact do you hope your film has on its viewers?
I am humble about its impact. It is just a simple film that does not intend to preach. Its images are open to multiple interpretations. We do not have to take the world for granted, as it is now. Let’s just imagine another solution. Let's be strong and poetic. Life is many things, including markets and economics, but why do we have to allow these two dimensions to rule our lives?
Other winners today include, Dobrin Kashavelov from Bulgaria who won second place and a cash prize of $10,000 with Global Warning, a harrowing film about the catastrophic effects on survivors of last year’s typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Third place and a $5,000 prize was awarded to American filmmaker Nathan Dappen for Snows of the Nile, a documentary following Dappen’s adventures uncovering indisputable evidence of the fast disappearing glaciers of Uganda’s "mountains of the moon."
“These talented young filmmakers connect to their audience in emotional and powerful ways about the dangers of climate change," said Jim Yong Kim, president, World Bank Group. "They have done serious, important work, which shows that climate change could result in a world that is unrecognizable today, and that we need act now to protect the planet for future generations.”
In the younger 14 -17 age group, The Violin Player took top spot. This beautifully animated film was the brainchild of Francina Ramos, a young Argentinian film maker and her co-producer/composer Benjamin Braceras. Second place went to Facing the Flood by Constantin Huet from Switzerland, an investigative account of the changing conditions in Greenland and the Maldives. Georgia’s Tura Tegerashivili was awarded third place for the whimsical It’s Easy if You Try.
“We were amazed by the originality of the stories and the genuine concern shown by these young film makers about the effects of climate change," said Bernardo Bertolucci, Academy Award and Golden Globe winning director. "They described the effects of climate change from hundreds of different points of view. Selecting winners was an almost impossible task."
The Action4Climate competition was launched in early 2014 by Connect4Climate, the global climate change communications program. All prize winners receive production equipment and software to help them hone their skills and talents and inspire them to create more climate change stories.
The general public was also engaged by voting online for the People’s Choice Prize. It was won by a team from Brazil for their film Pachamama depicting the effects of global warming in their home state of Sao Paulo.
“Connect4Climate was tremendously excited by the amount of interest shown in the competition from around the world," said Lucia Grenna, program manager, Connect4Climate. "It demonstrates the level of concern shown by creative young people and their desire to be involved directly in exposing climate problems and finding lasting solutions. We were also gratified to experience the seamless coming together of international organizations, the private sector and civil society to support and promote the competition.”
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By Sherry H-Y. Chou, Aarti Sarwal and Neha S. Dangayach
The patient in the case report (let's call him Tom) was 54 and in good health. For two days in May, he felt unwell and was too weak to get out of bed. When his family finally brought him to the hospital, doctors found that he had a fever and signs of a severe infection, or sepsis. He tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 infection. In addition to symptoms of COVID-19, he was also too weak to move his legs.
When a neurologist examined him, Tom was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that causes abnormal sensation and weakness due to delays in sending signals through the nerves. Usually reversible, in severe cases it can cause prolonged paralysis involving breathing muscles, require ventilator support and sometimes leave permanent neurological deficits. Early recognition by expert neurologists is key to proper treatment.
We are neurologists specializing in intensive care and leading studies related to neurological complications from COVID-19. Given the occurrence of Guillain-Barre Syndrome in prior pandemics with other corona viruses like SARS and MERS, we are investigating a possible link between Guillain-Barre Syndrome and COVID-19 and tracking published reports to see if there is any link between Guillain-Barre Syndrome and COVID-19.
Some patients may not seek timely medical care for neurological symptoms like prolonged headache, vision loss and new muscle weakness due to fear of getting exposed to virus in the emergency setting. People need to know that medical facilities have taken full precautions to protect patients. Seeking timely medical evaluation for neurological symptoms can help treat many of these diseases.
What Is Guillain-Barre Syndrome?
Guillain-Barre syndrome occurs when the body's own immune system attacks and injures the nerves outside of the spinal cord or brain – the peripheral nervous system. Most commonly, the injury involves the protective sheath, or myelin, that wraps nerves and is essential to nerve function.
Without the myelin sheath, signals that go through a nerve are slowed or lost, which causes the nerve to malfunction.
To diagnose Guillain-Barre Syndrome, neurologists perform a detailed neurological exam. Due to the nerve injury, patients often may have loss of reflexes on examination. Doctors often need to perform a lumbar puncture, otherwise known as spinal tap, to sample spinal fluid and look for signs of inflammation and abnormal antibodies.
Studies have shown that giving patients an infusion of antibodies derived from donated blood or plasma exchange – a process that cleans patients' blood of harmful antibodies - can speed up recovery. A very small subset of patients may need these therapies long-term.
The majority of Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients improve within a few weeks and eventually can make a full recovery. However, some patients with Guillain-Barre Syndrome have lingering symptoms including weakness and abnormal sensations in arms and/or legs; rarely patients may be bedridden or disabled long-term.
Guillain-Barre Syndrome and Pandemics
As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe, many neurologic specialists have been on the lookout for potentially serious nervous system complications such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
Though Guillain-Barre Syndrome is rare, it is well known to emerge following bacterial infections, such as Campylobacter jejuni, a common cause of food poisoning, and a multitude of viral infections including the flu virus, Zika virus and other coronaviruses.
Studies showed an increase in Guillain-Barre Syndrome cases following the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, suggesting a possible connection. The presumed cause for this link is that the body's own immune response to fight the infection turns on itself and attacks the peripheral nerves. This is called an "autoimmune" condition. When a pandemic affects as many people as our current COVID-19 crisis, even a rare complication can become a significant public health problem. That is especially true for one that causes neurological dysfunction where the recovery takes a long time and may be incomplete.
Though there is clear clinical suspicion that COVID-19 can lead to Guillain-Barre Syndrome, many important questions remain. What are the chances that someone gets Guillain-Barre Syndrome during or following a COVID-19 infection? Does Guillain-Barre Syndrome happen more often in those who have been infected with COVID-19 compared to other types of infections, such as the flu?
The only way to get answers is through a prospective study where doctors perform systematic surveillance and collect data on a large group of patients. There are ongoing large research consortia hard at work to figure out answers to these questions.
Understanding the Association Between COVID-19 and Guillain-Barre Syndrome
While large research studies are underway, overall it appears that Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a rare but serious phenomenon possibly linked to COVID-19. Given that more than 10.7 million cases have been reported for COVID-19, there have been 10 reported cases of COVID-19 patients with Guillain-Barre Syndrome so far – only two reported cases in the U.S., five in Italy, two cases in Iran and one from Wuhan, China.
It is certainly possible that there are other cases that have not been reported. The Global Consortium Study of Neurological Dysfunctions in COVID-19 is actively underway to find out how often neurological problems like Guillain-Barre Syndrome is seen in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Also, just because Guillain-Barre Syndrome occurs in a patient diagnosed with COVID-19, that does not imply that it was caused by the virus; this still may be a coincident occurrence. More research is needed to understand how the two events are related.
Due to the pandemic and infection-containment considerations, diagnostic tests, such as a nerve conduction study that used to be routine for patients with suspected Guillain-Barre Syndrome, are more difficult to do. In both U.S. cases, the initial diagnosis and treatment were all based on clinical examination by a neurological experts rather than any tests. Both patients survived but with significant residual weakness at the time these case reports came out, but that is not uncommon for Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients. The road to recovery may sometimes be long, but many patients can make a full recovery with time.
Though the reported cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome so far all have severe symptoms, this is not uncommon in a pandemic situation where the less sick patients may stay home and not present for medical care for fear of being exposed to the virus. This, plus the limited COVID-19 testing capability across the U.S., may skew our current detection of Guillain-Barre Syndrome cases toward the sicker patients who have to go to a hospital. In general, the majority of Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients do recover, given enough time. We do not yet know whether this is true for COVID-19-related cases at this stage of the pandemic. We and colleagues around the world are working around the clock to find answers to these critical questions.
Sherry H-Y. Chou is an Associate Professor of Critical Care Medicine, Neurology, and Neurosurgery, University of Pittsburgh.
Aarti Sarwal is an Associate Professor, Neurology, Wake Forest University.
Neha S. Dangayach is an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Disclosure statement: Sherry H-Y. Chou receives funding from The University of Pittsburgh Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the National Institute of Health, and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Dean's Faculty Advancement Award. Sherry H-Y. Chou is a member of Board of Directors for the Neurocritical Care Society. Neha S. Dangayach receives funding from the Bee Foundation, the Friedman Brain Institute, the Neurocritical Care Society, InCHIP-UConn Center for mHealth and Social Media Seed Grant. She is faculty for emcrit.org and for AiSinai. Aarti Sarwal does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
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Unity Task Forces formed by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled sweeping party platform recommendations Wednesday that—while falling short of progressive ambitions in a number of areas, from climate to healthcare—were applauded as important steps toward a bold and just policy agenda that matches the severity of the moment.
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In a series of tweets Wednesday night, Ocasio-Cortez—the lead sponsor of the House Green New Deal resolution—noted that the Climate Task Force "shaved 15 years off Biden's previous target for 100% clean energy."
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Biden, for his part, applauded the task forces "for helping build a bold, transformative platform for our party and for our country."
"I am deeply grateful to Bernie Sanders for working with us to unite our party and deliver real, lasting change for generations to come," said the former vice president.
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