Using The Power Of Film To Fight Climate Change with Award-Winning Director Dimitri Pantchev
April 22nd, 2020 marks the fiftieth annual Earth Day, a worldwide celebration of both Planet Earth’s incredible beauty and the irreplaceable resources — air, water, nature — that are now threatened through the epidemic of global climate change.
Generations of people throughout the world have carried the burden of protecting Earth from climate change, but others have only learned about it in a relatively basic fashion through news reports.
Filmmaker Dimitri Pantchev, meanwhile, sees climate change as an issue that can be explored more vibrantly than newspapers or newscasts normally allow. His two short films on global warming — 2014’s Global Warming: Surreal Will Be Real and 2015’s Green Water for Alive Beauty — make as much of an emotional connection with viewers as it does an educational one.
Directed by Pantchev (BRUSH…painted forward), both Global Warming and Green Water were produced for the United Nations’ Climate Change Project in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
As the top winner for the film category at that year’s event, Global Warming: Surreal Will Be Real was made by Pantchev while he studied filmmaking at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida, and features a group of young children — including Pantchev’s own son — passionately stressing the urgency of stopping climate change to the viewer.
One of three winning films at the 2015 event, Green Water for Alive Beauty was filmed on location in Pantchev’s home nation of Bulgaria, and focused on the efforts of a small village town’s residents to create a rain water-powered renewable energy resource for their community.
As you’ll read, making both Global Warming and Green Water has impacted Pantchev’s understanding of the climate change crisis; an impact he hopes audiences will also experience by seeing his films.
Chris Hadley: What (and/or who) inspired you to make them, and how were these films first conceived/developed?
Dimitri Pantchev (director, Global Warming/Green Water): Global Warming was my first project, done at Full Sail University, for a United Nations competition about raising awareness of global warming. (It) won first place (at that competition). Green Water was my second competition project hosted by the French Embassy and Full Sail University, where students had to develop a docu-style short film about innovative ways of reusable green energy.
CH: Global Warming: Surreal Will Be Real was produced for the 2014 United Nations Climate Change Project, while Green Water for Alive Beauty was produced for the 2015 event. Discuss your memories of those experiences — including having both screened in public — and the impact your experiences had on you as a filmmaker.
DP: When I won with Global Warming, it made me start thinking seriously about filmmaking in a sense that “I may have got it”. When Green Water was selected as a finalist, it really made me consider filmmaking as a career. They both gave me wings to explore and be fearless.
CH: What was the research and production process like for both films?
DP: For Global Warming, the idea was born while I was in my office and trying to think of something creative and unique and yet free to film. I was looking at a painting of Salvador Dali’s called “The Disintegration Of Persistent Memory” when the idea was born to project the painting over the faces of my son and a few of my friend’s children while they are pleading (to viewers) about protecting Mother Earth.
For Green Water, I was in Rodopi Mountain in Bulgaria when I found that the Mayor of a local village adopted a project that brought all villagers together for a good cause. The project was to install water reservoirs to collect rain water for irrigation needs for their village, park and gardens.
CH: As a result of that work, the U.S. Embassy of France commissioned you to make two additional short films for French companies that have used environmentally friendly means of production. Talk about those projects.
DP: The top 3 students that won the 2015 Prize were sent to France to make a total of six short documentaries (two each). I completed a video about Lactips, a company making plastic out of expired milk protein, and a video about Coldep, a company using oxygen bubbles for cleaning and filtration of algae, energy plants and deep-oil pipes.
CH: In what ways have making these films given you a greater appreciation of the global warming crisis, and the effects of climate change in our world?
DP: It made me read and research a lot about the issues and solutions related to climate change and what was coming (as a result of climate change). I became an advocate and supporter for anything that has to do with protecting the environment — recycling, alternative energy, educating the masses by making documentary films.
CH: How has making these films helped you to grow your creative skills and voice as a filmmaker?
DP: By actually doing them. For some reason, I get highly motivated about subjects that have a positive impact in society.
CH: How can these films help viewers to better understand climate change and its effects on the planet?
DP: In general, any documentary film about the subject should have some kind of positive effect on the viewer. Having the right message in any film, in my opinion, is imperative if you are to touch somebody in a motivational sense.
CH: Overall, what do you hope people take away from seeing Global Warming: Surreal Will Be Real and Green Water for Alive Beauty?
DP: I really hope to at least make viewers think a bit (about climate change), (to) research the subject as “it’s real” and (to) motivate them to make a change in a positive direction for the Earth and the future of our children. (In) the end, we are only here temporarily.
Watch Global Warming: Surreal Will Be Real here:
Watch Green Water for Alive Beauty here:
See all of Pantchev’s films on his Vimeo page: