‘Radical Imagination: Responding to an Environmental Crisis in Motion’ presented at the Bright Lights Film Festival

10/19/23 by Emily Martinez and Junru Tao

A screening of a collection of 16mm short films, “Radical Imagination: Responding to an Environmental Crisis in Motion” and a following panel discussion were held Oct. 5, at the Bright Lights Cinema Theater. 

The four shorts were co-presented by The Roxbury International Film Festival, Emerson College Office of Sustainability and the Engagement Lab. 

The collection of films explores the relationship between humans and environmental injustices through cinematography, narration and essay. 

The essay film “Our Ark” takes the viewer on a journey through the digital realm. The viewer meets 3-D creatures dwelling in the forests of North America, alive on-screen. It’s a visual treat, filled with contrasting colors and familiar animals, making audiences ponder the blend of nature and technology in our world.

The second short film “Imalirjit,” sheds light on the pressing issues of water quality in Pond Inlet, Nunavut. The film dives deep into the story of Tim Anaviapik Soucie–the narrator and co-director–who embarks on a mission to study and improve water quality for the benefit of his community and  inspired by his grandfather’s legacy. 

We then move onto the 11 minute Verité-style documentary, “Trash Day,” which takes viewers on an eye-opening journey with New York City’s “trashwalkers.” The documentary reveals a stark contrast between quality and safety, calling out the broader environmental implications of our throwaway culture, revealing that 40 percent of discarded foods are still whole and untouched.

The last film, “If Turtles Could Talk,” follows Runi a local fisherman, who takes up protecting endangered marine species around Jumba Beach. 

At the end of the collection of films, Kathyrn Hamilton, John Holy, a professor at Emerson College and Huma Sarabi, a filmmaker, educator and mediator for the night, did a question-and-answer session for a deeper dive into her film, “The Ark.” 

Hamilton was able to share that all 3-D models used in “The Ark” are available for the public to access. “We followed this company called Digital Life, who are trying to scan all the animals on Earth, beginning with the ones most likely to go extinct,” Hamilton said.

Holy commended the collection of films, “The world definitely needs artists, not to make the world a better place, but to save ourselves. Scientists haven’t been able to do so and we need a successful way to communicate and show people we need to change.”