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The Art of Visual Communication: Impact Films 2020

Updated: Jan 16, 2021

The must-watch films and projects of 2019-2020

 

The year 2020 was one for the history books. From a devastating pandemic to a whopping total of 207 natural disasters recorded globally in the first six months alone, the new decade brought with it a period of uncertainty, tragedy, and universal loss.


In times of doubt and silence, it is art that speaks in words we most need to hear. From former United States Vice President, Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, to Sir David Attenborough’s witness statement of his 94 years as an explorer and broadcaster, A Life on Our Planet, non-fiction narratives have long heroed the oft-ignored crises that are now unfolding before our very eyes.


As we take our first wary steps into a new year, The Impact Society takes a look back at the homegrown films and projects that moved us and inspired us to action over the last year.


Here are our picks for the best Impact Films of the year 2020.

 


The Climate Challenge

We are in the midst of a devastating climate crisis, with empirical evidence of changing climate and its subsequent fallout being the focus of newspaper headlines, television news coverage and more, worldwide. Scientists and researchers, our frontline warriors in the battle against climate change, are the unsung heroes of our times. Braving the harshest conditions and weathering the most severe storms on the furthest reaches of our planet, these superhumans are pushing the envelope of what is possible, in the name of science. The Climate Challenge, a film by science documentary filmmaker Rakesh Rao, highlights these climate issues by taking the audience on a journey documenting the daunting work of the scientists conducting climate research in the Arctic, Himalayas and Southern Ocean.



The Last Avatar Project

India as a nation is a kaleidoscope of cultures, each with its own vibrant history and colourful traditions. A melting pot of stories, our nation’s relationship with the divine is unique in its form, with evidence of the living numen alive in the heart and soul of every city, mountain, lake and river. A people who draw their ancestry from a vast pantheon of gods and goddesses, India is home to a host of nomadic and isolated tribes whose cultural history lies in the blurred spaces between myth and fact. Unfortunately, these living manifestations of culture face the threat of impending doom, with surviving generations depleting in number, taking their culture, and history with them. The brainchild of Brand Ambassador for Zeiss India, travel and lifestyle photographer Aman Chotani, co-founder Vishal Bali, co-author Roohani Sawhney, and Stanzin Chokphel of The Ladakh Story, The Last Avatar Project is a multi-format study of these dying cultures, and their vibrant histories and traditions. A visual archive of the colours, sounds, and faces behind these incredible stories, the project aims to preserve, commemorate and immortalise their existence for the benefit of future generations.



The Baiga Jewellery Initiative

Located in the buffer zone of the Kanha Tiger Reserve, the village of Bandha Tola is inhabited by the men and women of the Baiga community, a forest-dwelling indigenous tribal community in central India. Recognised as one of the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG), the people of the Baiga community are known for their intimate relationship with the natural world, and with the local tiger population in particular. Armed with a deep-seated understanding of the medicinal and healing properties of the various species of flora and fauna found in the forests around the region, the community relies on the gifts of the forest as their means of livelihood. However, this manner of living increases the risks of human-wildlife conflict. The Baiga Jewellery Initiative, spearheaded by the Last Wilderness Foundation and the Kanha Tiger Reserve, documents the efforts to reduce the community’s dependency on the forest, by introducing them to an alternate source of livelihood- a pre-existing and vibrant skillset of the tribe- Jewellery Making.



The Artificial Reef Project

Reef conservation has become a source of global concern in recent years, with mass coral bleaching, overfishing, and marine destruction running rampant in many parts of the world. The Artificial Reef Project, an effort by the Quest Adventure Sports Academy in association with marine biologist Suneha Jagannathan and the Tamil Nadu Fisheries Department documents the efforts towards replenishing fish stocks for the subsistence of local fisherfolk, through the installation of artificially constructed reefs.



Vanvadi

Vanvadi is a collective initiative for ecological regeneration. The collective comprises of a number of dedicated professionals from across a variety of fields, working together to revive a 65-acre piece of land situated in the foothills of the Sahyadris, turning the land into a luscious forest called the Vanvadi forest. The revived land boasts an over 90% tree cover and is home to over 120+ traditionally useful plant species (including 54 forest food species) and a host of birds, reptiles, amphibians, arachnids, and crabs. Since their inception approximately 25 years ago the team has not only transformed the land into a thriving forest but have also built check dams, carried out the desilting of stream beds and water bodies, practised farming, enhanced biodiversity, practised rainwater harvesting, revived wells and greatly impacted the lives of tribal communities living in the area. Through a formally registered entity, Vanvadi Forest Eco-versity Association (VanFEVA), the collective is striving to multiply their impact by involving local communities and urban youths in their on-ground initiatives and workshops, inculcating an environment of collaboration towards the regeneration of the thriving biodiversity and ecological health of the region.



The Boy Who Saw More

The Boy Who Saw More is a breath-taking narrative-driven documentary film directed by Shaktiraj Jadeja and Pankaj Singhji. A love letter to the spirit of nomadic exploration, the film takes us on a journey through the picturesque mountain valley of Ladakh, following a young schoolboy, Nordon, as he investigates the hidden stories and adventures that lay just beyond the boundaries of his everyday life. A tale of a journey, the film touches upon the commendable conservation work of the Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust, through the lens of their local educational initiatives.



Walk with the Pardhis

The nomadic Pardhi community of Panna, Madhya Pradesh were traditionally hunters, with a legacy of hunting that dates back to the age of the Mughal emperors, when they were enlisted to aid in the sport-hunting activities of the British or were commissioned for the royal kitchens of the ‘zamindars’ (landowners). Walk with the Pardhis, an initiative by the Last Wilderness Foundation, offered the community a second chance at an alternative means of living, by training them to repurpose their age-old traditions and skills towards working as forest guides. Experts at identifying tracks, mimicking the calls of bird and animal species, and at tracking the movements of wild creatures through the forest, the Pardhi community shares their knowledge with tour groups, educating them on the rich ecology of the forest region, and of the wild creatures that reside within.


Do you have recommendations for the best Impact Films to come out of recent years? We would love to hear from you! Write to us to have your work featured on our page!

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