Transitions Film Festival Brisbane opens with a fashionable look at our waterways

Transitions Film Festival Brisbane opens with a fashionable look at our waterways


The Transitions Film Festival opened in Brisbane 23 March with the screening of award-winning film RiverBlue followed by an insightful discussion on sustainable fashion and protecting our waterways with leading water and fashion industry experts.

Blue River in China (photo: RiverBlue)

Hosted at New Farm Cinemas 23 – 26 March, the inaugural Brisbane event opened with the screening of RiverBlue, a ground-breaking documentary that follows river conservationist Mark Angelo on a journey across the globe where he reveals the darker side of the fashion industry and its disastrous impact on the world’s water resources.

Leaving filmgoers with an insight into the scale of the problem and a sense of what can be done at an individual level to effect change – from our fashion choices to advocating businesses and government to develop more sustainable practices, the conversation continued with a panel discussion from leading experts in sustainable fashion and water management.

Tackling the challenges of water management in industry

IWC Capacity Development and Training Manager Declan Hearne was joined by Dr Alice Payne (QUT Design Lab, School of Design QUT) and Professor Stuart Bunn (Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University) to delve further into the debate on sustainable fashion and water management, and answer audience questions on the issues and themes raised in RiverBlue.

Asked what he thought the major limitations to sustainable water practices for industries in developing nations were, Declan reflected that strong leadership from governments to shift the speed at which industries take up more sustainable models of business was an important component of moving toward more sustainable practices.

‘In the southern Philippines I have seen local governments together with civil society stakeholders use science to inform watershed policies that required large-scale banana plantations shift from areal spray to lower impact approaches of pesticide application,’ he said.

‘This in turn created space for smaller growers to also adopt lower impact approaches and seek third-party certification (for example Rainforest Alliance), and others to go organic. These measures reduced the pressures on local river systems and opened new markets for local producers.

‘This is an example of how the role of government, in providing the frameworks and regulations necessary for more sustainable management, can encourage and support private sector reforms. When local government have the right leadership skills and employ science-based decision making, progress can be achieved in engaging private sector actors to shift towards lower impact practices while maintaining economic viability,’ Declan said.

He believes that movies such as RiverBlue have a critical role to play in building awareness across a wider spectrum of society on the current pressures on rivers, and to remind us that individual actions do matter.

‘Being part of events like the opening night of the Transitions Film Festival and joining the panel discussion provides an opportunity for us [water sector practitioners] to engage with the broader, non-technical audience on the challenges and issues that affect us all,’ he said.

Transitions Film Festival Brisbane 2017

The IWC was a proud sponsor of the inaugural Brisbane-leg of the Transitions Film Festival, supporting the Festival’s aim to inspire, inform and engage by connecting audiences to cutting-edge ideas from around the globe and the local community groups that are creating impact in Australia.

IWC Education Director Dr Brian McIntosh believes that stimulating public engagement with, and discussion of, the complex sustainable development challenges that we face collectively is vital to creating widespread dialogue around problems and ensuring the creative ideas, practices and technologies necessary for their solution are accessible beyond niche groups.

‘The film RiverBlue revealed some of the profound, polluting and impoverishing impacts of traditional fabric manufacturing techniques in countries such as China, Bangladesh and India, and left us excited about the possibilities of changing those techniques and our clothing purchasing habits as ways of tackling some of the problems raised,’ said Dr McIntosh.

‘Films are a wonderful way of engaging public audiences in necessary dialogue and we are proud to have been able to support the Brisbane launch of the Transitions Film Festival which is already so successful in other capital cities,’ he said.

More information

For more information on the Transitions Film Festival in Brisbane visit:

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