100 students, faculty and community members gathered at USC's first ever Eco Film & Media Arts Festival to watch student's environmentally themed films and engage in an inspiring panel about climate storytelling and activism. Our panelists were Courtnee Zambrano, a screenwriter and producer who recently worked with Scott Z Burns' in an upcoming climate themed Apple TV show, and Jay Ponti, a grassroots political organizer who has participated in some of the most important movements of the last decade from Occupy Wall Street to Standing Rock. The panel was moderated by our lead student organizer Natasha Nutkiewicz, who is a senior theater and film student. We discussed the panelists' career journeys, big need for hopeful and informed climate stories, the challenges of being a young filmmaker and climate emotions while organizing.
Watch some of the student films here:
Natasha Nutkiewicz · Our Garden
William Higbie · Divest SC
Arian Tomar · Canaries of the Coast
Aristotle Hartzell · Lambent
Cole Slater · The Coccolithophore Lamp
Sanay Saboo · Free Plant
Jaime Lopez · Hex Chrome and the Community
Yayu Zheng & Mengyuan Qiao · Out of Sight
Braulio Hernandez · Right in Front of You
Neha Dhabale · Divine Intervention
Eduardo Maia & Melanie Robertson · Living Colors
Watch the full panel!
From a USC Annenberg Media article about the event:
"Each storyline is different, but all of the films work to share the same message, according to the festival’s prompt: ‘we must act now.’ Many of the film directors found the motivation to share this message through film because of their personal experiences, they said"
A few words from the lead organizer, Natasha Nutkiewicz:
"We all know the climate crisis is here. It's an emergency we can't continue to ignore. But why doesn't it get the attention it so desperately needs on TV, in movies, in podcasts, or even in the news? The absence is startling. According to the recent Good Energy and Norman Lear Center report, only 2.8% of 37,453 analyzed scripts from 2016 to 2020 contained climate keywords. We need to start telling stories about environmental justice, eco-feminism, and sustainable futures to culture hack, shift our collective consciousness and alter the course of our future. The stakes couldn't be higher, especially for storytellers and artists.
Instead of just sulking in eco-grief and anxiety as I have been for the past 2 years, I decided to use my skills as a producer and organize this film festival. I am just one person, right? But with the support of a collective, I was able to bring 100 people together to celebrate students already doing this work, raise awareness and inspire action. As young people, we have more power and agency than we think.
I couldn't be more grateful to the Arts & Climate Collective, Arts in Action, Assignment Earth, and Media Arts + Practice for supporting this event. Thank you, Colin McClay and Michael Bodie for helping me and trusting my vision. Thank you to everyone who came, your messages and words of encouragement mean the world. Thank you to the wonderful panelists, Courtnee Zambrano and Jay Ponti for your honesty and passion.
We have the science and solutions, now we need to tell the story and continue building a movement. This is just the start!"
"Your event inspired me so much. Thank you for bringing the community together and giving these artists a venue to showcase their work” - Eliana
"Thank you for inviting me! Seriously it was so inspirational to see everyone's stories and
hear what they had to say. In a way, it really made me think differently about the talent at
this school and really made me think about what I want my art to do for the world. If there's
anything else like last night going on please let me know because I'd love to come and
show my support again!!!" - CJ
For more pictures of the event, visit the Eco Film + Media Arts Festival: Photo Gallery here.
Stay engaged and join on campus sustainability efforts
Check out this opportunity: 2022 NRDC Climate Storytelling Fellowship.
Check out this resource: The Playbook: Resources for Climate Change Screenwriters