Culture, environment come together in PhD’s films 

Dr Birut Zemits' PhD research explored the links between filmmaking, culture and the environment.

The important role of film in communicating about links between the natural environment and cultural identity is the focus of PhD research just completed through Charles Darwin University.

Filmmaker and lecturer, Birut Zemits will be awarded a PhD from CDU at the May graduation ceremony this week for her thesis entitled “Ethno-eco dialogue: Filmmaking for Environmental Sustainability”.

In creating films within the studio practice for her study through the School of Creative Arts and Humanities, Dr Zemits has effectively extended in-depth academic discussion about the interrelationship between culture, environment, action and filmmaking.

“This visual arts research project explores how different styles of documentary film can work to extend the way we think about our relationships to natural places,” Dr Zemits said.

“My work also looks at how a close identity in a place can influence actions for environmental sustainability, especially when considering diverse cultural views.

“The first of the two films draws on my own Latvian background to explore how people feel about natural environments. The other looks at environmental issues in Darwin.”

During her research, Dr Zemits worked with many groups in Australia and overseas, running workshops and conducting interviews.

She explored how participatory filmmaking could be an integral part of raising awareness of environmental issues.

Her emphasis was on relationships to local places, but global issues were a driving part for her study.

Films from this study have been screened at CDU and will be shown in Sydney in July.