Film festival challenges us to live in greater harmony with our world

Monday, 28 November 2016 18:55


The Sustainable Living Film Festival (Sürdürülebilir Yaşam Film Festivali – SYFF) was celebrated in 20 towns and cities across Turkey, including Fethiye, on the weekend of November 18th-20th.

25 short and full-length documentaries were collated in the festival programme, all of which were thought-provoking and often challenging. 

The festival's focus is Sustainability; that is the use of renewable resources (material and energy), environmentally sound development, social equality, sustainable agriculture, and improving the well-being of all life (human, animal and vegetable).

The films were produced all over the world. Countries featured included Turkey, the UK, Canada, China, Denmark, France, India, Israel, Italy, Peru, Spain, Sweden and the USA.

The films each focused on various issues, such as recycling, climate change, the dumping of hazardous waste, deforestation, co-operative business models, rapid urbanisation and population migration, wildlife conservation, abuse of indigenous people's land, and cross-border cooperation.

What profoundly struck me while watching these documentaries, is that each of the film-makers were working globally, entirely independently of each other, and yet the same themes kept on arising; the same dangers, and almost identical images.

For example, it was shocking to see how much of the world's land and water systems are being polluted by waste from the fossil fuel industry. A number of films discussed the mining of oil, coal, natural gas, and shale gas through fracking operations. In each case, we were presented with images of forests being cleared and land blown apart, being replaced by waterways and lakes filled with poisonous chemicals, such as lead, mercury and arsenic, as well as radio isotopes. It was also repeatedly discussed that the communities who lived around the developments, and relied on the local water supplies, had all suffered a massive increase in cancer rates.

Another recurrent image were children and families in developing countries, who try to survive by working and scavenging around the waste which is shipped from and dumped by other nations and people. Time and again we saw footage of people with no safety equipment, who were burning and melting electronic waste, and by doing so, were inhaling and ingesting carcinogenic fumes.

What is clear from all of these films, is that the responsibility to literally save our planet, our race and our habitats, lies with each individual world citizen. We must do much more - individually and collectively - to stop climate change, end the reliance on fossil fuels, and work towards 100% recycling and zero landfill use.

While I would recommend watching every film featured in the festival, I would perhaps advise most to seek out Time to Choose. This film sticks out because it comprehensively addresses almost every environmental challenge we face in the world today, and shows clearly that we have the tools for our salvation, if only we choose to utilise them. It is also beautifully filmed in some epic locations. The film can be downloaded for only $4 (about £3.25 or 14TL). Even if you consider yourself to be well informed about climate change, this is a film which will truly open your eyes.


Waste management and recycling in Bangalore 7 minutes / India / 2016

Age of the Farmer 6 minutes / Canada / 2015

Wings of Change 53 min / Israel, Palestine / 2016

All the Time in the World 87 min / Canada / 2014

The E-waste Tragedy 86 min / Spain, France / 2014

WEconomics: Italy 19 min / US, Italy / 2016

Daughter of the Lake 87 min / Peru / 2015

Racing to Zero 59 min / US / 2014

Can we do it ourselves? 60 min / Sweden / 2015

Fractured Land 75 min / Canada / 2015

Swallow Project 4 min / Turkey / 2016

Kombit: The Cooperative 45 min / US / 2015

The Story of Bakeys Edible Cutlery 4 min / India / 2016

A Common Right Uganda 6 min / India / 2012

The Land of Many Palaces 61 min / China / 2015

Time to Choose 100 min / US / 2015

Unravel 14 min / India / 2012

Message in a Bottle 15 min / US / 2015

Tarzan Kemal: The Story of a Citizen 60 min / Turkey / 2015

Back to the Land 5 min / Scotland / 2016

Tomorrow 118 min / France / 2015

The Living Seed and The Living Soil 20 mins (x2) / India / 2015

Collaboration: On the Edge of a New Paradigm 55 min / Sweden / 2015

Unbroken Ground 26 min / US / 2016

For more information, go to

This article was first published in Land of Lights on 28th November 2016.

share this item
facebook googleplus linkedin twitter