December 22, 2012 Silent Snow in IHPA Newsletter December 2012 Issue

Silent Snow around the world

- by Natascha Korvinus


This fall, it was exactly fifty years ago since marine biologist and conservationist Rachel Carson published the book ‘Silent Spring’, an unsettling insight in how our environment becomes increasingly polluted by the use of pesticides like DDT.


That was 1962. Today, little has changed unfortunately and the results of years and years of pesticides in our environment have started to show. Dutch filmmaker Jan van den Berg and Pipaluk Knudsen-Ostermann, a young Inuit woman from Greenland, documented the devastating effects in their documentary ‘Silent Snow’, which premiered early 2011. In Greenland, where they filmed most of the footage, persistent organic pollutants accumulate and cause serious health problems for the local inhabitants. The pollutants are carried North by ocean currents and the wind. Research has proved that children with high levels of pesticide in their blood have a lower IQ and for adults they cause fertility problems and cancer. The documentary shows Pipaluk as she travels around the world, looking for the sources and solutions for the chemical pollution.


Inspired by all the people interviewed in the film, who were fighting for their environment, Van den Berg started the Silent Snow project: a platform to create awareness of this problem, consisting of 2 documentaries, a website and educational material for schools. The Silent Snow project believes that knowledge is the start of improvement. Its goal is to inform as many people as possible on the dangers of pesticide use and start a discussion on how to improve for our future generations.


In September 2011, Silent Snow was successfully received at the 11th International HCH and Pesticide Forum in Gabala, Azerbaijan. Since then, the film was shown in over 35 countries and won several international awards at film festivals like the International Mountain Film Festival in Domzale, Slovenia, Envirofilm in Slovakia, Festival de Cine y Derechos Humanos and the International Environmental Film Festival (FICMA ) in Barcelona, Cine'eco in Portugal, and the Cinema Verde Environmental Film Festival, Gainesville FL. USA. Van den Berg also brought the film to Dutch, German and Belgian cinemas, where the film was often followed by a debate with professionals. Educational projects started in, among others, Costa Rica, one of the countries in the world that uses the most pesticides. High school and secondary school students were given workshops on the dangers of pesticides and informed about safer alternatives. After being screened this winter in Argentina, France and San Franciso, Van den Berg is now on his way for an exiting range of screenings at the Karama Human Rights Festival in Jordan, which will be in fact the Middle Eastern premiere.


A sequel to the successful film project is on its way; No Fight No Victory, a documentary about the practice of land grabbing, food security and the value of small family farming. Once again, Van den Berg teams up with a powerful woman (this time its Brazilian journalist and Capoeirsta Sara Abreu) and travels around the world to capture the effects of practices of large multinational companies on the environment of average local people. The first short pilot of the film project got loads of support on Lisbon Film Festival and the Rio +20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.


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