Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival is a special 2-day film festival themed WATER مياه; featuring films from across the world examining diverse issues surrounding water.

This year’s special program, on the occasion of COP 28, is supported by the Environmental Agency Abu Dhabi and The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi. Speakers and films will connect to the agenda of COP 28 and issues of climate change.

See the full festival lineup here.

The feature film explores a sound installation artist’s existential journey between fire and water on landscapes of the coal mining region of Eastern India. This is preceded by two shorts, poetic film mourning the loss of fish and fishermen on Lake Qarun, Egypt and another mourning the loss of a forest leading to a waterfall. This screening features the following films:

  • “And when I die let me be buried in a Hemlock coffin, so I’ll go through hell snapping”

Directed by Sarah Ema Friedland (US) – 8 min

A Hemlock forest in Western Massachusetts that is dying due to the Woolly Adelgid beetle infestation tells a larger story about climate collapse and the interconnections between the natural and the built environments.

  • Drowning Fish

Directed by Amir al Shenawi (Egypt) – 8 min

Drowning Fish is a short documentary following one of the last fishermen in Qarun Lake in Fayoum, Egypt. Samir, a 67-year-old fisherman, lives in Shakshouk village where the entire community depends on fishing as a key source of income. Over the years, the lake has suffered from many pollution problems which made young fishermen in the village leave to coastal cities across Egypt while old fishermen live in memory of golden days of the lake. The film tells a simple story that spotlights on the consequences of damaging the ecosystem on the fishermen community in Egypt.

  • Whispers of Fire and Water

Directed by Lubdhak Chatterjee (India) – 83 min

Shiva, an audio installation artist, visits the largest coal mines of Eastern India that’s plagued by depleting resources. Faced with the highly complex socio- political system, he succumbs to the monstrous pressure. Fire, as an element, engulfs him. Shiva eventually moves to a tribal village in the forests. The panoply of sounds which he experiences triggers an inward journey which questions his urban gaze & notion of self. Water, as an element, forms the labyrinth of his quest for truth.

Biographies

Sarah Ema Friedland (US)

Friedland is a NYC-based media artist and educator. Her work has been screened and exhibited at institutions including Cannes Film Festival, Lincoln Center, Anthology Film Archives, The DCTV Firehouse Cinema, PBS, the Tang Teaching Museum, The Chelsea Museum, The Queens Museum, The 14th Street Y, and the MIT List Center. Her works have been supported by grants and fellowships including Jerome, Paul Newman, Ford, NYSCA, the Palestine American Research Center, the LABA House of Study, and the MacDowell Colony. She was named one of the “Top 10 Independent Filmmakers to Watch” by the Independent Magazine, is a recipient of the Paul Robeson award from the Newark Museum, and was nominated for a New York Emmy.

Amir al Shenawi (Egypt)

Amir El-Shenawy is an Egyptian documentary director and producer. He is best known for his feature documentary debut, Kilo 64, which had its world premiere at the Cairo International Film Festival in 2018, earning nominations for both Best Arab Film and Best Artistic Contribution awards, and winning the First Feature Film prize from the National Festival for Egyptian Cinema. After studying journalism at the Danish School of Media in Denmark in 2011, Amir earned his BA from the American University in Cairo in 2013, majoring in Media Arts and double minoring in Film and Arab & Islamic Civilizations. He then received his MA in Screen Documentary from Goldsmiths University, London, in 2017.

Lubdhak Chatterjee (India)

Lubdhak Chatterjee is an independent filmmaker based out of Kolkata, India. A blogger with the Times of India, he started off his career as an engineer which he soon gave up to pursue his love for films. He had won the Doordarshan fellowship in India for his documentary film Vaikhari, commissioned by Public Service Broadcasting Trust, India and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. His experimental short film Aahuti was an official selection at International Film Festival of Rotterdam (IFFR) 2020. Lubdhak also works professionally as a cinematographer and editor.