This weekend I managed to attend the second year of the UK Green Film Festival at several venues around the country including the Chapter Arts Centre here in Cardiff. They showcased a series of environmental documentaries that varied in theme from what makes us happy? (Happy), The benefits of living vegan (Vegucated), How much food we waste as a society (Taste the Waste) and my personal favourite of the festival about the levels of light pollution we admit as a people and what affect this has on our own body, mind and soul as well as the affects seen on other species living on the planet (The City Dark). I managed to attend only two films during the weekend, Happy and the City Dark, and both were incredibly eye opening and I think will resonate my mind for quite some time.
The first that I saw, Happy, explored what it meant to be truly happy and (particularly in the UK, US and Japan) how a growing percentage of the population are increasingly growing unhappier with higher levels of depression; largely attributed to overworking and a general lack of fulfilment in their lives. The themes of minimalism were high prevalent throughout the movie and could not help comparing my life to some of those involved in the film, asking myself how happy am I? I would like to say I’m pretty happy in most cases but I still think there is a lack of self-actualisation; I just don’t know what it is that’s missing yet. Dr Stephen Stanley, a social psychology lecturer at Cardiff University, made an excellent introduction to the film, questioning “What is it to be happy?” and how exactly can we measure how happy a person truly is? Most say that happiness is just a fleeting moment and that we can’t extend that happiness to last continuously, there must be cycles of unhappiness in there to allow for those fleeting moments. To a large extent I do agree with this but I do think there is more to happiness than just those short bursts of ecstatic energy and I think it largely comes down to being at peace with ourselves and the world around us; and I think this can largely be achieved by not being so materialistic and opening yourself to the wonders of the natural world. This ties in nicely with the other film I managed to see at the UK Film Festival – The City Dark.
I have a fascination with stars and the night sky and often spend up to an hour just gazing up in wonderment at the lustrous canvas above my head. I don’t get many opportunities to do this, which is largely down to the light pollution of the city as well as the regular cloud cover hanging over Wales but there are some spots that I know of that can give me some pretty great views that I usually stop off at for 10 minutes whilst walking home from a friend’s house in the middle of the night. Looking at the sky does make you consider your place in the universe and can put yourself and your ego into perspective and I feel it’s an important part of being human and to a certain extent, being happy.
I’ve had a fantastic time and I’m thankful that Chapter Arts was able to take part in the festival and I’m greatly looking forward to it next year. I’ve met some fantastic people, some of whom already do some amazing work within the Cardiff to slowly transition into a greener, healthier city. I managed to chat to Canton Green Council candidate, Nigel Pugh who has brought to my attention an initiative this Wednesday to try and come up with some creative solutions to making that Green Transition. I’ll hope to be getting more involved in the coming months on how I can play my part!
Did you attend one of the venues for the festival around the UK? What were your thoughts on the movies you saw? Maybe you’ve already seen them and want to share your views? Please feel free to comment!