REKLIM as part of the NATIVE programme at the 2017 Berlinale

In cooperation with the Helmholtz Climate Initiative REKLIM at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research and DEKRA University of Applied Sciences in Berlin, on 13 February 2017 an event for the NATIVe programme, part of the 67th International Film Festival in Berlin, was held at the Sputnik Kino in Berlin Kreuzberg. This year the Berlinale’s NATIVe programme (under the title ‘A Journey to Indigenous Cinema’) focused on the Arctic. With the event in Berlin Kreuzberg, REKLIM successfully participated in the 67th International Film Festival in Berlin using a new form of knowledge transfer. The event’s main topic was:

Arctic Change – Indigenous Life and Scientific Tracks in Sakha / Russia

Sakha, as the 2 million inhabitants of Russia’s Yakutia Republic call their country, is a region located atop permafrost. In other words, its citizens live on soil with below-freezing temperatures down to a depth of 1,600 metres. The worldwide effects of thawing permafrost, caused by global warming, are not yet fully understood – but we do know they are irreversible. For generations, the indigenous peoples’ struggle for survival has been shaped by extremes: 50 °C below zero in winter and over 40 °C in summer. The presentations (accompanied by a wealth of visual aids) and film screenings concentrate on the local living conditions, which have been transformed by global warming.

The idea for the event stemmed from a collaboration between DEKRA University of Applied Sciences in Berlin and the Helmholtz Climate Initiative REKLIM. In the context of the 11th International Conference on Permafrost, held in Potsdam in 2016, the two partners’ focus was on permafrost, which is at the heart of REKLIM’s Topic 3 (Regional Climate Change in the Arctic). In turn, this focus led to the two short films ‘Devoted to Science’ and ‘Climate Scientist’, which were produced by students from DEKRA University of Applied Sciences. The short films, both of which were shown during the event, use different approaches to make permafrost research a more vivid topic. The goal of the event was to bundle various perspectives – the scientific and the artistic perspective, as well as the standpoint of those people who live with permafrost on a daily basis – so as to make viewers aware of the direct connections between our modern lifestyle and the corresponding effects on thawing permafrost soils.

A key aspect of the event ‘Arctic Change – Indigenous Life and Scientific Tracks in Sakha / Russia’ involved presenting those changes that can already be clearly seen by local populaces. Dr Mészáros, a researcher from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences who lived and worked in Yakutsk for more than three years, reported e.g. on how rural village communities are already feeling the effects of the thawing permafrost, and on how landscapes are rapidly changing and, as a result, e.g. the hay harvest is impacted, which affects livestock and with it, an important source of food and income for farmers.

Vyacheslav Shadrin, Chief of the Council of Yukaghir Elders, approached the issue from the stance of the indigenous peoples living in Yakutia. In addition to changed snowfall and increased erosion, he spoke on how vegetation is now spreading farther north in response to climbing temperatures. These changes, together with the thawing permafrost, pose serious challenges for Yakutia’s indigenous communities, which chiefly rely on livestock and reindeer breeding, hunting and fishing for their livelihoods.

In attendance were the following: Torsten Sachs (climate researcher, GFZ), Csaba Mészáros (anthropologist, Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Vyacheslav Shadrin (Chief of the Council of Yukaghir Elders), Sardana Savvina (film producer), Marcus Stiglegger (film researcher), Klaus Grosfeld (REKLIM), Renate Treffeisen (REKLIM), and Rolf Teigler (DEKRA University of Applied Sciences).
Event information on the Helmholtz Association website

Detailed programme for the event (PDF)

Event information on Facebook
Reports that were published to accompany the event:

One of the short films shown at the event – ‘Devoted to Science’ (Germany 2016, 6 minutes) by Ron Jäger – has since also been shown at the following festivals:
Social Machinery Film Festival, Ostiglia, Italy, 30 July 2016
Social Machinery Film Festival – Semi Finalist Screening, Altomonte, Italy, 26 August 2016
Short Cut Film Festival, Inđija, Serbia, September 11  11 September, 2016
Llanberris Adventure & Mountain Film Festival, 3-5 March 2017
In addition, our joint project ‘Devoted to Science’ was selected for inclusion in the Geofilmfestival and Expocinema (, a film festival that will be held for the first time this year in Italy.

Impressions from the event ARCTIC CHANGE - Indigenous Life and Scientific Tracks in Sakha / Russia

(Photos: Bärbel Kosanke)