Meet CCCL: Thailand's First Climate Change Film Festival

15 February 2024

By Bryan Yong

Changing Climate, Changing Lives (CCCL) Film Festival aims to raise awareness about climate change through the power of short films. Originating from Thailand, it is now opening film grant and mentorship opportunities to Asean environmental filmmakers, regardless of their native language.

Southeast Asia is among the regions most vulnerable to climate change, according to a report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), authored by the world’s leading climate scientists.

However, a lot of people in Southeast Asia remain unaware of the distant dangers of climate change. Thai media for example has largely downplayed reporting on climate-related disasters such as sea-level rise, extreme heat and increasingly frequent and intense storms as only natural disasters and not climate change impacts.

Campaigns to raise climate change awareness must first bypass a lot of noise on social media nowadays before reaching their target audiences. One way of inspiring potential actors in private, public and civil society sectors to support local communities affected by climate change is through the creative art of storytelling.

Introducing Thailand’s first climate change film festival

Changing Climate, Changing Lives (CCCL) Film Festival is Thailand’s first film festival on climate change. Founded in 2019 by Christopher G. Moore, CCCL aims to set up a community for Thai and Southeast Asian filmmakers to showcase their works and bring fresh visions and voices to the subject of climate change.

For their fourth film festival and for their first time, CCCL is accepting short film submissions from across Southeast Asia. The expansion across the region aims to support young filmmakers and artists through filmmaking grants, mentorship programmes, film and art distribution, talks, and workshops on climate filmmaking and visual storytelling all year round.

Participants do not have to be professional filmmakers to submit films to CCCL. There is also no age limit for submissions. All young and first-time filmmakers may even stand a chance to win filmmaking grants and personal mentorship in a script-to-screen manner. Submissions are welcome for all short film genres, as long as the story advocates for climate change awareness.

CCCL Flim Festival engages and brings a cinematic experience to its audiences while advocating for environmental and climate change awareness through the films it curated. Photo courtesy of CCCL

For its fourth film festival, CCCL received a record-breaking 383 short film submissions. From 15 to 18 February 2024, 38 finalist films will be premiered in the CCCL Film Festival 2024 at the Alliance Française Bangkok. Additionally, three feature films and live talks, all advocating for climate change awareness, will also be presented at the festival. 

Once the film festival in Bangkok concludes, CCCL and its partners will organise community screenings across Thailand in Chiang Rai, Nan, Nakhon Phanom, Udon Thani, Songkhla and Pattani provinces. They hope to reach a larger grassroots audience that could not attend the festival. Besides the usual audiences of youths, academics, environmentalists and programme partners, CCCL hopes to reach grassroots audiences where climate change has the greatest impact and where their films will inspire the biggest action. 

Using their arsenal of award-winning films, CCCL plans to reach out to schools, environmental NGOs and even government officials to push for climate advocacy. At the moment, CCCL is expanding its collaboration with other Asean Film Festivals to distribute films and organising screenings.

In an exclusive interview with EcoCupid, Chris (founder), Busakorn ‘Od’ Suriyasarn (project advisor) and Nakorn ‘Bom’ Chaisri (programme designer) speak about finding a balance between advocating for climate issues and filmmaking.

Tell me what is CCCL in a way that you would sell your one-minute pitch to a funder?

Chris: Climate change and changing lives. We wed the two things together. The climate is changing lives. We encourage visualising through storytelling how the impact of climate will change this generation and the ones that follow. CCCL was formed in 2019 to provide a community for young Thai filmmakers because there is a lot of untapped creativity among Thai youth. These are also the people who are most at stake with climate change in environmental degradation.

Od: It’s a platform and also a bridge for storytellers, especially the younger emerging filmmakers, who are telling stories on the impacts of climate change that are affecting their own lives and communities. We’re also a bridge between the hard and sometimes complicated stories of science and art to find a way to make science understandable for everyone.

You said you want to bring up storytelling about environmental issues. What’s still missing when it comes to information, education and communication about environmental issues?

Od: We already have so much information about climate change, but they are not out there. Getting that information across and through the noise and people’s attention is the missing link.

Chris: The second thing is urgency. Part of the big enemy of climate change advocacy is that we can’t say next week all the glaciers are going to melt. Climate change is a gradual process. But our species reacts to emergencies and drama which gets our attention. We are also wired to tell and listen to stories. And if you tell a story that has a bit of humour, emotion and drama, people will react to it in a way that we don’t react to statistics and charts and PDF files.

Because you are expanding outside of Thailand for the first time, is language a barrier for spreading environmental awareness or is it not a factor when it comes to storytelling?

Bom: Expanding to Southeast Asia is challenging for me and the team as well. How are we going to send the message that we have grants to support people in Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia? From what I learned it’s not about English or Thai or local languages. It’s about how the filmmakers and the audiences are going to trust us. We try to make Asean filmmakers feel that CCCL is a safe space first so that they come in and communicate with us and share their stories with us.

Chris: What percentage of communication in films is verbal and non-verbal? Non-verbal communication is about 93 per cent. So, when you visualise a story people can see everything from the micro-expressions to their posture, which is all part of storytelling. You can watch a film and perhaps not understand the language but you can develop a sense of empathy for the situation that those characters are in.

Od: Within Thailand, we have films where characters speak in indigenous languages. Such films would have two subtitles, Thai and English. The real barrier comes from non-Thai films that do not have English subtitles because we cannot translate them into Thai. Unless it’s performance art or silent films, we cannot work on that. In the future, we will look at translating films into local languages spoken in that particular country.

CCCL is still a competition. So, which one is more important? The quality of the environmental message or the filmmaking?

Chris: The reality is a lot of films will have both qualities. And what you look for is not just either one. If it’s done well, these different aspects combine to touch you in such a way that you feel that you’ve changed because of what you’ve seen. That’s ultimately what we look for. It’s very hard to express because it’s intuitive and emotional. In terms of competition, you’re right. But I have to say some films that have not won have gone on to win recognition in other film competitions. It’s not just the winner that we focus on. As far as I’m concerned, they have added to the cultural conversation globally. Culture is about caring, community and compassion. And I think that’s the three C’s of CCCL. If we can deliver that message as a part of a cultural broadcast around the world, we have served our mission.

The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

EcoCupid was a participant and speaker at CCCL Film Festival 2024, with two short films, ‘Bamboo School’ and ‘Regrow Our Home’ enlisted as finalists. This article was originally published by EcoCupid.

Our featured Eco-Hero

Changing Climate, Changing Lives Film Festival is Thailand’s first film festival raises awareness about climate change through the power of short films. Based in Bangkok, Thailand, CCCL focuses on supporting young filmmakers and artists within Thailand and across Asia through filmmaking grants, mentorship programs, film and art distribution, talks, and workshops on climate filmmaking and visual storytelling all year round. You can reach out to them at

Bryan Yong

Bryan Yong is a freelance environmental journalist and chief editor for EcoCupid. With a background in oceanography and experience volunteering with youth environmental NGOs in Malaysia, he brings curiosity and enthusiasm to discover Southeast Asia’s environmental movement through his stories. Bryan is an avid traveller and loves local food the most.

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