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Shock-Waves 2011, a two-day international festival showcasing a collection of films on disaster risk reduction and management, couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.

In all, more than 25 short, documentary and fiction films are being screened at the festival, which started Tuesday at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi.

The world has been seeing images of the tsunami and earthquakes in Japan, and the unrest in the Middle East. Says the festival’s programme director Anwar Jamal, “The festival is an attempt at educating the masses about disaster management through the medium of film." He relates an anecdote about a suicide bombing in Afghanistan where an Indian and a foreigner were caught in a building—the Indian man was at a loss as to what to do, but his foreign counterpart ducked under a table. “It’s this basic knowledge that can be the difference between life and death at times," says Jamal.

The film festival, part of an initiative by the NGO Global Forum for Disaster Reduction, follows a format similar to the 1st Asian Film Festival on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Incheon, Korea, in October. The films have been divided into six categories: Nature’s Fury, Climate Change Adaptations, Rebuilding Lives, Fortifying Ourselves, Learning from Experiences and Women and Children in Emergencies. Wednesday’s screenings will include When the Mekong Rises from Cambodia, Early Warning System from the Mercy Corps and Nepal Red Cross Society, Flood Children of Holdibari by Plan International and Breathing with Dignity by HelpAge India.

The festival also features high-level panel discussions on disaster management and the role of media in learning and advocacy. The panel includes noted film-maker Sudhir Mishra and film critic Saibal Chatterjee.

Shock-Waves 2011 is on at the India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi, from 10.30am-7.30pm on 13 April.

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