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IGU Partners with World Cinema Series on “Salt of the Earth”: First in New Series of Films to Address Theme of Global Human-Environment Interaction

Co-authored by Emilia Intili and Courtney Gosse.

The Institute for Global Understanding (IGU) co-hosted the first film in the 2020-2021 World Cinema Series on Sept. 24 at 7:30 p.m. With more than 40 people in attendance, the turnout was a great success. This event was moderated by Dr. Thomas S. Pearson, Professor in the Department of History and Anthropology. The faculty discussants for this film were Mark Ludak, Specialist Professor of Photography in the Department of Art and Design and Randall S. Abate, Rechnitz Family and Urban Coast Institute Endowed Chair in Marine and Environmental Law and Policy, Professor in the Department of Political Science and Sociology, and Director of the Institute for Global Understanding. The theme of this year’s World Cinema Series is “A Delicate Balance: Global Communities and the Natural World,” which features films that examine the interdependence of human communities and the natural world.

The film chronicled the work of Sebastiao Salgado, widely regarded as one of the most influential documentarians in the history of photography. He is known for the way he utilizes symbolism, archetype, and myth to portray the human condition. This ambitious film encompassed Salgado’s life events, cultural experiences and encounters, and several of his projects in remote destinations around the globe. As an artist, Salgado emphasizes social advocacy to communicate to a larger audience about the importance of solidarity and community resulting in the improvement of humanity. Prof. Ludak thoroughly and sensitively commented on many aspects of Salgado’s remarkable life and work.

Another focus of this zoom discussion was based on the documentary’s clarity of the intersection between humanity and the environment. The film portrays the lifestyles of indigenous people and their remarkable capacity to live in harmony amongst their natural habitats. This fundamentally sustainable lifestyle is an important lesson for the rest of humanity in how we can continue to survive and reduce the effects of climate change. In the environmental aspect, this film conveyed the power of environmental restoration as it depicts Salgado and his wife restoring his own family farm in Brazil by planting over 2.5 million trees. This is also beneficial on a humanitarian level in such, by restoring the natural world, we in turn restore our own souls as human beings in the process, which reinforces the message that our natural world is more resilient when humankind works with it.