A picture is not quite worth a thousand words, noted Romal Mitr in her recent TEDx talk, "Reviving Earth's Heartbeat Before It Flatlines," part of an event at Humboldt State.
A recent study has found that a picture is actually worth 84 words, she continued.
"However, according to a forester's research, a video is worth 1.8 million words," she added. "Humans are visual begins. Videos can connect and appeal to our different senses and keep viewers engaged."
Dublin resident Mitr, a junior at Quarry Lane School who will soon be 16, believes in the power of film as passionately as she cares about the environment and so is holding a film festival, "Earth Unfiltered: Bay Area's Environmental Youth Film Festival," for ages 13 and under. Submissions are due Dec. 31, and the winners will be announced Jan. 31.
"I'm always looking for youths to become involved in preserving our environment," she said.
Mitr, who is president of her school's Environmental Club, has hosted 15 filmmaking workshops for youths, hoping to inspire them to use film to raise awareness of climate change and inspire action.
"Most of the workshops have been conducted online (due to COVID), but I have held a couple of local workshops in the Dublin Ranch Community Center," she said.
Mitr was recently recognized as a 2021 International Young Eco-Hero, an environmental honor given to 20 youth worldwide who identify major challenges to the planet and suggest solutions.
She was chosen for her initiative, Reimagining Earth, which includes mapmaking to clarify global urbanization rates and record carbon footprint estimates.
Interested in filmmaking from an early age, a couple of years ago Mitr produced a documentary, "No Matter How Rare," promoting advocacy efforts for rare disease patients, which was accepted into international film festivals. It is now streaming on Roku TV and Amazon Fire TV, and she donates proceeds to rare-disease-related charities.
"From my previous documentary experience, I realized the power that film has to catalyze change and I thought this (the film fest) could be a valuable asset to the environmental movement," Mitr said.
"I have found that young people are really interested in creating their own environmental stories and their short films. This media has really resonated with them," she added.
"I thought 'Earth Unfiltered' would be a great way to increase the spread of environmental messages and encourage youth to take an active interest in the upkeep of our environment."
The "Earth Unfiltered" film fest is open to all youth in the Bay Area, and films of any length are eligible. The first-place winner will receive $200; second place, $100; and third place, $50.
Any device can be used for the filming, Mitr said, noting that movie-editing software is readily available through free apps.
She said she chose ages 13 and under to aim the film fest at students in middle and elementary schools.
"That's a good age for people to become story tellers, to shape the face of the future," she said.
Mitr plans to put together a committee of filmmakers she has met over the years to judge the entries.
"I am hoping we can possibly have a full festival event and showcase the winning films," she said.
For more information and to submit films, visit tinyurl.com/EarthUnfiltered.