New film festival strives to raise awareness of soil sustainability

Dalton Bergan

Students interested in filmmaking, science, agriculture or a combination of the three will have a chance to showcase their skills at the Pesek/Pierre Student Filmmaking Challenge that will take place Sept. 30.

The Pesek/Pierre Colloquium on Agricultural Sustainability and Soil Science is an annual event that brings attention to the importance of soil and other related issues in the field of agriculture. The event has typically been centered around a lecture or film screening in past years.

“Usually they bring in a soil scientist as a keynote speaker and it’s actually very well-attended. This time we have a video contest associated with it, so students can show what they can do,” said Michael Dahlstrom, associate professor of journalism and communication and a member of the organizing committee. “The idea is to showcase the power of communicating science through film.”

The film contest is being incorporated as part of the event this year and will give students a chance to talk about important agricultural issues in a video format. Students can team up to make a two-minute video that highlights an important issue affecting sustainability.

“We’re always looking for ways to get students to think from a different point of view,” said Michael Thompson, professor of agronomy. “The whole theme of the colloquium is science communication, so we wanted to find a way to get students to think about communicating science in a fresh way.”

Thompson said he hopes the event will help students learn new ways to speak about complex topics. Dahlstrom added that the video contest is meant to emphasize the importance of communication within agriculture, incorporate storytelling into science and get students involved with big issues on campus.

“Because soils are beneath our feet, we don’t often think about soil very much,” Thompson said. “Our goal is to talk about how film and videos can help people think in new ways, without compromising the science.”

The deadline for video submissions is Sept. 22. A judging panel will review the submissions and vote on which ones will be shown at the event Sept. 30. The team with the best video will be rewarded with $300.

“We know that there is a lot of interest in sustainability and there are students that do a lot of video work,” Dahlstrom said. “The fact that there is some prize money will motivate them more than if there wasn’t. A lot of it is letting people know that this is out there, and letting them know with enough time that they can produce something of high quality.”

Both Thompson and Dahlstrom are excited to see what students come up with, and hope that the film contest will get a lot of students involved.

“I would love for this to continue in future years,” Thompson said. “This is the first time and we’ll have to see how it goes, but I’m really jazzed about it.”

Any ISU student can participate, and there is no limit on how many team members can work on one film. Members of the organizing committee encourage students to form teams with friends from various departments and majors so that there are as many fresh perspectives as possible.

“What makes this exciting from a planning standpoint is that I’m hoping to be surprised by what students create,” Dahlstrom said. “It’s those surprises that really capture the passion of the event.”

Video entries must be uploaded to YouTube by Sept. 22 and tagged with “Pesek-Pierre Challenge.” Entrants must also complete a submission form to accompany their video.