Sufi Momin has spent recent months thinking of the planet’s future, turning her concerns about the human impact on global ecology into a short documentary that educates about the problem and offers solutions that most people can adopt.
Her efforts led to local and global recognition, including screenings of her film this weekend in Atlanta and Chicago.
Sufi, who lives in Dunwoody, is about to celebrate another important milestone — turning 13. Her birthday is later this month, but the party is here this weekend.
Sufi said her interest in the environment began with a lesson on biodiversity while she was a sixth grader at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta. She learned about climate change and how many species on the planet are endangered or facing extinction due to human-made environmental changes.
“The more we learned and the more we researched, the more I realized the Earth is really unbalanced in biodiversity,” she said, adding that a healthy balance between all animals, plants and other living things is essential to all life’s survival.
Sufi’s mom came across the One Earth Young Filmmakers Contest and found both a summer project and a way for Sufi to channel her environmental concerns. The contest draws submissions from students around the world, and a jury selected eight winners in various categories. Winners received a cash prize with a matching donation to environmental organizations. Sufi won the middle school award.
Sufi’s five-minute film — titled “Human Activities Cause Declining Biodiversity: Solutions to Protect Our Ecosystems” — is both informative and a call to action. Sufi wanted to spread the message that she believes climate change is reversible and that all people can play a part. One Earth said on its website that Sufi’s film “explains big ideas in a digestible way.”
Environmental policy is important, she said, and her film recommends getting in touch with officials at all levels of government. Lifestyle decisions like driving less, using solar panels and shopping sustainably can reduce the impact of an individual or household. She focuses on taking shorter showers, and her family opts for reusable bags at the store.
Perhaps the most important step right now, Sufi said, is education. She encouraged people of all ages to learn more about how individuals and all people affect the world and other living things around them — a first step could be watching and sharing her film once it’s available.
Sufi remains interested in science and said she’s enjoying seventh grade, particularly biology class.
Sufi is hopeful her generation will be a leading voice in reversing some of the harm that humans have caused to the planet and other species. She thinks it’s important for adults to listen to young people because their decisions now affect generations to come.
“We want to make sure our kids and their kids have the ability to survive properly and not walk around and see pollution” and other harmful factors, she said.
How to see it
Sufi’s film will be screened at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University as part of the Southeast Ismaili Arts Festival.
All the winning films in the One Earth contest will be screened at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago Sunday. The event will also occur virtually, with free tickets available on the contest website.