A Small Island Nation Uses Film/Art/Interactive to Help Our Global Environment

During the last two days, I have had the pleasure to attend the second Dominican Republic Environmental Film Festival (DREFF), organized by Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) and Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (FUNGLODE) in Santa Domingo. Although, one normally visiting Dominican Republic away from work may be inclined to head to a day of surf and sand, my goal was to view and appreciate the screenings and the powerful messaging presented.

During the six-day festival, there will be 24 film screenings, including 13 international feature films, panel discussions, workshops and other activities in a variety of venues in the cities of Santo Domingo, San Francisco de Macorís, Santiago, Punta Cana, Baní, Puerto Plata and Sosúa. Panels will feature interactive discussions with directors and experts in five critical areas: oceans, biodiversity, ecological economy, sustainable agriculture and climate change.

DREFF launched last evening with the screening of the Spanish version of the documentary film, My Father, The Captain: Jacques-Yves Cousteau. The film is an intimate portrait of oceanography legend, Jacques Yves-Cousteau, told by his son, Jean-Michel, and introduced live on stage by the grandson of the famous ocean explorer, Fabien Cousteau.

The festival's goal is to raise awareness and deepen the understanding of environmental issues among Dominican audiences, while celebrating the beauty and diversity of the country's natural heritage. Through screening a diverse selection of high-quality films on matters of environmental concern, and organizing panel discussions with environmental experts, filmmakers and other stakeholders, the festival seeks to foster dialogue and to inspire Dominican audiences to adopt practices that will ensure the health and environmental sustainability of the country.

By bringing together youth, scholars, experts, activists, filmmakers, representatives of public, private and nongovernmental institutions and the general public, DREFF hopes to promote programs and projects that will contribute to the island's (and the larger world's) environmental protection, conservation and sustainability.

Hats off to the creators for spreading such a vital message for our planet and let's hope it can be replicated in other similar countries in the future.