CCCL Film Festival: Empowering Young Filmmakers to Redefine Climate Narratives


Pattana Kakaiy of Urban Creature talks to the minds behind Changing Climate, Changing Lives / CCCL Film Festival, Dr. Busakorn Suriyasarn and Nakorn Chaisri on how to spread awareness about Climate Change through short films, and empowering young filmmakers to redefine the climate narratives before it is too late.

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An interview with the minds behind Changing Climate, Changing Lives / CCCL Film Festival, Dr. Busakorn Suriyasarn and Nakorn Chaisri.

Having been born and raised in Chiang Mai Province, I have direct experience with the dust and smoke season that comes every year. I can't remember the first time my nose was stuffy because of smoke. But what we know for sure that is, every time the dust season comes around. It gets worse every year. Just like the temperature in the city is getting hotter and hotter. Additionally, we can measure it from the winter that is not as cold as before.

Climate change is a daunting problem. And it's not too far away for us, says Dr. Busakorn Suriyasarn, co-founder and project advisor of the Changing Climate, Changing Lives (CCCL) Film Festival, a project by Tonkla Rak Lok Foundation (Seedlings Save the World Foundation) where Busakorn is the director.

Dr. Busakorn Suriyasarn

Many Thais may know CCCL as the 'The World is Sick, We Must ChangeShort Film Festival which was firstly held in 2020 and has been held continuously every year. This festival is not just a short film festival about global climate change. But it is also a platform for young independent filmmakers from the Southeast Asia region to submit their own projects for funding through their film grants. At the same time, they are accepting short films from filmmakers around the world.

When talking about short films or any content about global warming, we often think of straight information or boring documentaries, but CCCL Film Festival doesn't believe that. They believe that short films that communicate serious issues can also be diverse, fun to watch, and creative.

Nakorn Chaisri, filmmaker, program officer, event and festival designer of CCCL Film Festival.

We sat down and talked with Dr. Busakorn Suriyasarn and filmmaker Nakhon Chaisri, program officer, event and festival designer of CCCL Film Festival to discuss the ins and outs behind the creation of this Edu-tainment Film Festival.

One afternoon, I heard the news that Chiang Mai's dust season was back in full swing. Just before ending the conversation, I hoped with all my heart that we would hear some good news next year. It all starts with the realization that global warming is not far away. We all learned that.

The world is sick, we must change.

Having worked for the UN and have always followed the news of climate change around the world, Busakorn gradually gets more involved in climate change/global warming works, But what makes you feel it the most is the signs that you experienced yourself.

“I came from Chiang Rai. In the past, the winter in Chiang Rai was very cold. But now when we go back there and it's hot. I wondered why it was like this.” “The news that came out in the last few years, millions of Rai (1 Rai equals to 1,600 sqm) of forest fires, Billions of animals killed or displaced [in Australia]. These are situations that people in the city do not experience and think that it is far away. In fact it is far from you but it is not far from other people. Farmers who grow crops are faced with irregular rainfalls. The same crops do not produce the same results.”

These problems are real. I had the opportunity to work with the government at the policy level and saw that in the society, many people still lack awareness about these problems. Some people may only know that the dust season has come again, and wonder why it is so hot, but not waking up to it.

“These problems are real. I had the opportunity to work with the government at the policy level and saw that in the society, many people still lack awareness about these problems. Some people may only know that the dust season has come again, and wonder why it is so hot, but not waking up to it.”

In her serious attention to the problem of climate change, Busakornbelieves that we can drive climate change policy and raise awareness among people in society concurrently. But the latter requires a different form of communication that is less academic and more accessible. 

And before she knew it she has become part of the CCCL Film Festival.


Starting with understanding

Changing Climate, Changing Lives or CCCL Film Festival was founded in November 2020 by Christopher G. Moore, a Canadian writer living in Thailand, who is Busakorn's husband.

It was Christopher's idea to use film and art to draw people to climate change. He gathered friends from different circles who share the same concern of this issue, including journalists, academics, artists, and people working specifically on climate issues, who allwanted to see more awareness in society.

Besides raising awareness about climate change with the public, CCCL Film Festival aims to provide a platform for young independent filmmakers in Southeast Asia to tell their own stories about climate change. By giving film grants , which the CCCL team says is for people who may not necessarily have a high level of understanding about climate change yet, filmmakers have opportunities to both hone their filmmaking skills and learn about climate issues at the same time.


.“In addition, we also focus on groups of people who don't have a lot of capital, such as students and new generation filmmakers, indigenous people, and groups that rarely have the opportunity to raise their voices. In providing Film Grants, we also look at equality. There won’t be only male filmmakers. We fund women, the LGBTQIA+ group.We look at this as an important component.”

CCCL gives funding to at least 10 film projects per year, while also supporting filmmakers in learning about scriptwriting and storytelling through workshops and seminars with experts. Young filmmakers who wantmentorship support will be provided with a mentor who is a professional filmmaker.

Film grants are still limited, and not all films that receive CCCL funding will be selected for screening at the festival. They have to compete to be in the official selection with other short films from around the world.


Climate Change films can be fun

383 is the number of short films with climate change themes submitted to CCCL annual short film competition last year.

Busakorn said that the short films submitted were in all styles. The awards in the short film competition were in two categories: documentary and non-documentary,including fiction, experimental, stop-motion, etc.

Of the in-competition 383 films from filmmakers around Southeast Asia and beyond, 38 films were selected to be screened at festivals in Bangkok and other provinces. As for the criteria for selecting the films, Nakorn said that they wanted to emphasize diversity in terms of content, storytelling,and the diversity of filmmakers. Most of all, how the films reflect the real issues.

“The stereotype of environmental films is that they're boringand must be in a documentary style only. We tried to challenge that; we weren’t looking for only that type of films. We'd like to see more interesting storytelling, that deals with the issues of climate change this is more accessible to people.”

Nakorn gives the example of Avocado on Pancakes, a film that won the Grand Jury Prize in the non-documentary category this year. The film revolves around a couple in a secret love affairs in a Japanese restaurant, Izakaya. The couple had an argument over avocado on the menu. One of them doesn't know how much water is required to grow one avocado. Their argument veered off to fast fashion and carbon footprints.


Having films that are accessible is one thing. Meanwhile, CCCL will also organize school and university tours to show films to students, as well as online screenings.

“We know that these days there are a lot of activities related to climate chang. It’s not enough to wait for them to come to us.. We need to reach out to them as well.In addition to film screening, we bring climate change experts and local actors to have discussion after the film screening, in the hope that it will help raise awareness among people in the area,” said Busakorn.

“There are two things we expect from this festival. Or you can call it a goal. The first goal is to be a destination for climate change filmmakers in Asia. The second goal is engage youth. We want them to come watch the films, ask questions, and continue conversations. Many people come to CCCL to watch films from other countries. When they finished watching the films, they said that this is an issue that exists in their country as well. These things happen and affect people everywhere. We'd like to see something like that."

“What is important is that a space is created for filmmakers and event participants. They feel like they have a space to explore, a space that has value for thesociety, for youth to learn and to be themselves, to interact and build relationships with friends with common interests, as well as a space for artistic exchanges.”


The future of the festival that is, there will be no festivals.

The future vision for this festival is that there will be no more festivals. When everyone has finally understood the point, we would think that our work is done. It is better to go to do something else.

Even though we've been working for 3 years, the CCCL team still thinks that the Changing Climate Changing Lives Film Festival hasn't made a big impact on society. But at least they think it has helped spark some awareness and a small ripple effect among the young generation of filmmakers.

“Each year there are university lecturers encouraging their students to submit films to the festival. Another level of impact is that many of the films have been screened at other festivals and  received [international] awards. As for the impact at the community level, our films have been shown in many communities as well. We don't know how much of an impact we have made. But at least we can say that our films have been seen.”

From the perspective of people living in the urban areas,  Busakorn believes that the existence of CCCL Film Festival may answer one painpointshe saw at the beginning. That is, realizing that climate change is relevant to our lives.


Realizing that climate change is not far away.

“Through this short film festival, we see the lives of real people have been affected by climate change, both in Thailand and outside. What do people having to fight forest fires have to contend with? What kind of lives do people in  Northern Thailand have facing the serious problem of PM 2.5? [Climate change] is not just the toxic dust problem. It's much more than that."

But in the meantime we want this festival to be a safe space,a creative space, where people from all places come to share their stories. We do what we can to support them, especially people who may not have had much of a chance to tell their stories.

“Some issues you may not have paid any attention to, but they are already here. Then you may realize that other people have been trying to deal with them and  trying to tell you these stories all along. But did you get their message?”

When asked how do you see the future of the festival? Nakhon smiled and said. “The future vision for this festival is that there will be no more festivals. When everyone has finally understood the point, we would think that our duty is over. It is better to go to do something else.”

“We probably won’t be living in the city then. We might be gone to live in a mountain somewhere,” Busakorn jokingly added, then turned  serious.

“But in the meantime We want this festival to be a safe space. creative space. And it is a space of exchange for people from various areas to come and tell stories. We will do everything we can to support them. Especially people who may not have had much of a chance to tell their stories.” She closed her sentence with a smile.


3 recommended films for you to watch




This grand prize winner documentary short is about 'Miwatari' (meaning God's Crossing), a phenomenon that occurs during the winter at Lake Suwa in Nagano Prefecture, Japan. The ice in the lake forms a long path-like pattern.

The film tells the story of a monk at a temple that has been keeping records about Miwatari for many years. But recently, with global warming, this phenomenon has begun to disappear.

Avocado on Pancakes


The grand-prize winner in the fiction category, this  short film is about 'Jack' and 'Rose', a couple having a meal at a Japanese restuarant. And there was an argument over the avocado on Pancake dish. One side doesn't know how much water is required to grow one avocado. Their argument veered off tofast fashion and carbon footprints.

Cordillera Songs (คนหลังเขา) 

Cordillera Songs

An observational documentary (a jury prize winner) with no dialogue. The film shows what life is like for people on the mountain who have to fight forest fires. It seeks answers behind the burning of fields and how that’s linked to their way of life for hundreds and thousands of years. 

*Above films will be available on CCCL Film Festival Library.

Pattana Kakaiy is a journalist for Urban Creature, loves happy movies, the sea and winter. Interested in gender and pop cultures. 

Photography by Janevit Suthanasirichai, Graphic Design by Athipat Poonsinburanakul.

This article was first published in Thai by Urban Creature on 3 April 2024: <> and republished with permission. Translation to English by Franzi Tarmedi and Busakorn Suriyasarn.

The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of Heinrich Böll Stiftung.