Can’t say enough good things about Dominican Republic Environmental Film Festival (DREFF).
This was a very different kind of film festival.
DREFF is an initiative of Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) and the Global Democracy and Development (FUNGLODE) Foundation. Their goal is to promote environmental films and raise the level of public awareness.
They do this by connecting the film a dedicated audience. The Messenger was paired with several high school groups and screened at different locations in Santo Domingo. Teachers had prepared the students for the screening (including assignments) so they were very attentive! Filmmakers accompanied their films into the classroom, engaging in lively Q&A’s. It’s great to see environmental films reaching these younger audiences and to see these audiences connecting with the material.
The screenings were rewarding, as was the company. All filmmakers stayed in the same hotel, and spent many wonderful evenings talking — exchanging ideas, perspectives and stories from around the globe. Our screening days took us in very different directions, as many filmmakers travelled all over the Island to present their works to a variety of cities, towns and communities. Programming included films from Chile, the Yukon, South Africa, the UK, the USA and more.
Personal Highlights included a walk through the botanical garden accompanied by a local bird guide who pointed out many resident species that I had previously never seen or heard.
On the last day of the festival we participated in a beach clean-up. Hundreds of people were present, combing through layers of debris, most of which were discarded plastics. The site of all this garbage along the beach was sobering. Shocking as it seems, recycling programs are rare in Caribbean countries and there is so much waste! (What ever happened to glass bottles and deposits?) And bottled water is such an environmental tragedy on every level).
While the beach clean-up left us with the feeling that so much work needs to be done, the festival was a shining example of what can be done, and what is being done with positive and tangible impacts.