BC Environmental Film Festival brings awareness to climate education

The festival runs until Nov. 30

The BCEFF is streaming over 50 films until Nov. 30. (Submitted)

The BCEFF is streaming over 50 films until Nov. 30. (Submitted)

Correction: A previous version of this article had Jennifer Jackson’s last name incorrect. The article has been updated with the appropriate name. The Runner regrets the error. 

From forest fires and heat waves to storms and hurricanes across Canada, climate change has affected everyone’s life in some way over the last two years. 

The second annual British Columbia Environmental Film Festival (BCEFF) is taking place virtually until Nov. 30, and offers over 50 films through the streaming service, Eventive, for people to watch. 

After many conversations with ocean climate scientist Jennifer Jackson expressing her frustrations to Vancouver-based filmmaker Pezhman Hadavi about the lack of public knowledge or interest about climate change, they decided to create the BCEFF last year to combat just that. 

“He suggested ‘Why don’t we start an environmental film festival that brings scientists and filmmakers together in hopes of screening films that are educational, but also engaging to the general public?’” Jackson says. 

“When I started watching documentaries, I realized there’s a lot happening, and I know nothing,” Hadavi says. “There is a huge demand for these kinds of movies, but there’s no place for people promoting these types of movies.” 

“And when journalists started talking about the problem [they’re] having, how to spread the data and information to the public and raise public awareness, the idea came, maybe we should start an environmental film festival,” he says. 

The categories of the films range from full length documentaries about the landscapes of the Andes in Peru possibly disappearing by the end of this century, to short animations about a frog navigating his way home in today’s climate. BCEFF features films from all over the world, and has 17 films from Canada this year. 

Jackson and Hadavi say this year’s theme focuses on water and Indigenous land struggles. 

“We want to ensure that the films we’re selecting are of really high quality,” Jackson says. “And then these themes came together, where we noticed that a lot of the films that we were selecting, had similar topics or themes and in many ways, were telling a continuation of the same story.” 

She says once films are submitted to BCEFF, around 40 people including scientists, filmmakers, people with a film background, and members of the public watch each film and check for inclusivity and fact-check information from the film about the environment. 

“One thing that we are very aware of for telling or screening these environmental stories is that very often, they’re about marginalized communities, because those are the people impacted by climate change the most,” Jackson says. “So we want to make sure that everything we screen is sensitive to different cultures.” 

After the films are screened, the group scores them and selects the top films that meet the criteria of being sensitive to other cultures and scientific accuracy. 

Hadavi says there are few film festivals that focus on the environment and climate change, which is why this form of storytelling is important. 

“Having these types of movies can send the message much wider than just using the normal platform of spreading information through scientists,” he says, adding that not all movies have to be documentaries to show the impacts of climate change. 

Jackson and Hadavi say they hope they can help reach out to people who might not know a lot about the environment and impacts of climate change through the BCEFF. 

“I think we’re unique in that sense as well — we have the ability to reach into different communities,” Jackson says. 

“If one person can start thinking by watching one of these movies, ‘Okay, maybe I don’t need to do a lot, I can do small things,’ those small things can cause big changes,” Hadavi says. “By watching these movies, they realize being [an] environmentalist is much easier than they thought.” 

Festival passes can be purchased for $39 plus tax on their website bceff.org