EDITOR's NOTE: Lynn Dirk is a big fan of Cinema Verde and a CV Board Member.
When Shakespeare wrote "All the world's a stage," he was referring to how life imitates art (or vice versa) and how a single person plays many parts. In this day and age, global communication has transformed the meaning of those well-worn words. Now, it seems to mean that stories of life from around the world are the authors of dramas that most fascinate us. That could be one explanation why documentary films as well as reality shows are so popular. And the Cinema Verde International Environmental Film and Arts Festival, set to open in Gainesville, February 12, is a premier stage for such documentaries from around the world. These documentaries illustrate what can realistically be characterized as the epic struggle between development and nature that is currently engaging people around the world.
For example, a man in India, Kaila Boro, who dedicated his life to protecting Asian elephants from death by trains encroaching into their habitat, himself dies from a train accident. Images of these deaths are broadcast all over the world by satellite TV. Seeing the disturbing images emotionally triggered Ibson Lal Baruah to write lyrics and music and have an idea for a music video about the death of the elephants and their protector. That then led to the creation of Deepor Beelor Paare Paare ('By the Banks of Deepor Beel', which is a Burma monsoon forest conservation area). Being an lyricist and music engineer, Baruah was well qualified to create this powerful musical drama for the world stage, and Cinema Verde is the perfect stage.
This is the first time Cinema Verde will be featuring a documentary music video, which will be followed by a Q&A and discussion with Dr. Ron L. Chandler, a sustainability psychologist and environmental scientist who is also the President and Co-Founder of the Conservation Initiative for the Asian Elephant, the work by Ibson and those who assisted him is among the most important campaigns on behalf of the Asian elephant and ecology of northeast India. Baruah and the elephant protector whose work he continues, Kalia Boro, are surely heroes of our time. And Cinema Verde is the stage that makes it possible for us to be inspired by and to continue that work.
Baruah's creation of this music video, which I woujld call advocacy art, reflects the importance of music as a primary pathway to opening our hearts to compassion. In the tradition of ancient eastern cultures, like India, this path is well worn and continues today in the films produced by Hindi Film cinema (more commonly known as Bollywood). Anyone who saw Slumdog Millionaire has to remember the powerful effect of the video and dance that was the culmination of that movie -- Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny).
In Deepor Beelor Paare Paare, the music is equally moving, but more gentle and somber. Baruah chose traditional indigenous instruments to provide the music. To great effect, the video shows the instruments being played in the wetlands of Deepor Beel. The music starts with the digeridoo, and that music, with its deep, low vibrations, suggests both the power of a train and, also, ironically the elephants, with their ultra low-frequency communication. Then the doba, an ethnic bass drum, starts in, which adds a sense of urgency. Finally we see and hear a dotara or tokari, a stringed instrument with four nylon strings that has a banjo-like sound that emphasizes a phrase in the song -- "Wake up"!
Come to see the video/documentary at the film festival on Feb 14, and talk with Dr. Chandler about the plight of the elephants and other animals adversely affected by development and what we can do to help, each in our own way.