In 2021-2022, Meet the Moment brought together environmental filmmakers and advocates of all ages to screen their short films and discuss the environmental movement in two virtual events. Each event, aimed primarily at the educators and 5th-12th grade students participating in The Redford Center Stories program, featured past youth Stories Challenge winners, established filmmakers and storytellers, and educators. The two events featured many overlapping threads, emphasizing the importance of storytelling and individual and collective action in fighting the environmental crisis.
Meet the Moment: Global Youth Action took place on November 3, 2021, and featured youth filmmaker and 2021 Stories Challenge prize recipient, Eloise Sent, youth journalist from the Scottish Youth Film Foundation, Meredeth Rae, filmmaker and climate activist, Slater Jewell-Kemker, and filmmaker and political communications strategist, Pita Juarez. With the backdrop of COP26, where Rae was present, we screened films by Sent, Rae, and Jewell-Kemker. Each film spotlighted collective civic action as a necessary component of fighting climate change.
The panelists then engaged in a discussion about youth power at the annual global climate summit, storytelling in film, and how everyone can get involved in the environmental movement. Rae highlighted the importance of storytelling in the environmental movement, noting that stories help “amplify the sort of voices we don’t usually get to hear,” like the voices of youth. Juarez agreed, adding that “Those closest to the problems are closest to the solutions, but are often furthest from the resources, influence, and power” to turn those solutions into policy-backed initiatives. The panelists emphasized that tackling the climate crisis requires changing the way our societies operate globally and locally, thus necessitating a combination of bottom-up grassroots efforts, and top-down policy change.
On January 12, 2022, Meet the Moment: (Re)Imagining the Future showcased films by science researcher and climate communicator, Alizé Carrère, production designer and visual effects supervisor of digital media at California Academy of Sciences, Mike Schmitt, and two 2021 Stories Challenge prize recipients and youth activists, Jamie Lazar and Isabella O’Brien. Each film featured a creative solution to tackling an environmental problem, including adapting to flooded lands, greening cities, reforestation, and animal conservation.
In the post-screening discussion, the participants discussed how essential storytelling is in communicating solutions to not only the general public, but also to world leaders and policymakers. The filmmakers also examined what they have learned from communities that are already dealing with the firsthand consequences of the climate crisis. Carrère shared that what has impressed her the most in her work as a climate scientist is how communities “evolve with evolving landscapes.” She emphasized that she was not minimizing the challenges impacted communities face, but rather, that their “flexibility and willingness to move and live in balance with the natural environment” meant that many impacted communities have an innovative mindset and resiliency that global policymakers often lack.