By Ben Whelan
I arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica in January of this year to become a TEFL teacher. However, a few weeks after my arrival I found myself working for the communications department of the British Embassy on a groundbreaking animated climate change film called 'Odyssey 2050'.
Odyssey 2050 is a computer-animated feature film that aims to motivate young people from around the world to become environmentally aware, and seek positive solutions for environmental problems that the Earth will face in the coming years.
The story begins in 2050 with extra-terrestrial travellers observing the environmental devastation and suffering that the Earth has undergone at the hands of its most dominant species – humans! These creatures cannot understand why humans have allowed planet Earth to deteriorate and they return to the present to warn young people about the kind of society that awaits them if action isn't taken.
The aim of Odyssey 2050 is to create an environmentally conscious generation by getting children and teenagers to start thinking both locally and globally about how they can protect the environment, and then showcase these ideas on the big screen.
This ‘interactive’ element is a unique characteristic of the film, and getting young people involved in our project has been a key goal from the beginning. For example, Odyssey 2050 has held competitions worldwide and invited submissions of videos, graphics, music and written ideas from young people to highlight what they are doing in their communities to tackle climate change. Using these ideas and messages, the script writers and technical team at Odyssey 2050 are developing and creating the story which will showcase as many of the excellent ideas as possible.
Another key goal of the Odyssey 2050 association is to reach out to marginalised and vulnerable children, who often don't have access to electricity, computers or DVD players. One such successful campaign has been the recently released Odyssey 2050 Comic Book, which is being distributed in partnership with Caribbean Coast Catholic Church coordinators to school children across poor, remote and often neglected parts of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. A French version of the comic book is also now being used in schools in Haiti as well as being translated into Arabic and Somalian.
These comic books serve as an educational aid to complement existing environmental education programmes. This has enabled young people in areas of limited technology and financial resources to be introduced to the project and have fun while they learn about climate change.
Odyssey 2050 is a big project, with many incredible partners and associates dedicated to our cause. On board is the NASA Hall of Fame astronaut (and Costa Rican) Dr Franklin Chang-Diaz, who supports Odyssey in multiple ways, from acting to fundraising. Odyssey also has the support of organisations such as the British Council, Artists Project Earth (APE), the Costa Rican Government, the Bank of Costa Rica, Vitec Group and the CRUSA foundation to name a few. With this support, Odyssey 2050 hopes its success can continue and reach millions of young people globally, and start a social movement towards greater sustainability and a greener planet earth for generations to come.
The Costa Rican Premiere version of the Odyssey 2050 Feature Film is taking place on 26 September, which coincides with a 'time capsule release', and with premieres in other countries coming in late 2012 and early 2013.