Fulbright grantee to dig earth in soil pollution documentary
During the reign of the former Soviet Union, Moldova was the agricultural center of the federation. The country produced crops under policies that pushed production at all costs, but even three decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moldova’s fertile soils are still paying the price of overexploitation, says Avital Brodski, who will travel to the country in September to shoot a documentary on soil pollution as part of the American Fulbright Student Program.
“About 70% of the country was used for agriculture during the Soviet Union, but today only about 30% of the land is arable,” says Brodski, who will graduate from the Northeast in May with a degree in environmental studies and in media and film studies. .
Brodski, who grew up speaking Russian at home with his parents, will spend nine months traveling across the country filming and interviewing government officials and civilians about the consequences of unsustainable Soviet agricultural policies. The scholarship she received from the Fulbright program will cover living and travel expenses to and from Moldova.
“After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Moldova received very little help from anyone else. They received no support from the EU or NATO “But their GDP growth is better than the United States in terms of steadily improving over the years, so I want to investigate what’s causing that growth even though less and less land can be cultivated.”
Wine production is an important part of Moldova’s economy, Brodski says, and she hopes to capture in her film the intersection of agriculture, economy and national identity when it comes to wine.
Brodski says she is interested in the long-term effects that government policies have on the environment in Moldova and beyond. “The decisions we make today will have repercussions in the future,” she says. “I want to examine how the policies implemented by large powerful countries shape the environment.”
Brodski has experience directing documentaries as part of his undergraduate studies at Northeastern. She is currently working on her capstone project, which is a documentary about dinosaur footprints in New England and elsewhere in the United States.
Her interest in paleontology was sparked during the Age of Dinosaurs course she took with marine and environmental science professor, Richard Bailey. Brodski has interviewed archaeologists and filmed at dinosaur track sites in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Colorado and Utah for the upcoming documentary, which she hopes to submit to film festivals when completed.
Brodski also made another documentary at Northeastern with the help of Michael Carr, senior lecturer at the College of Arts, Media and Design. At a Dialogue of Civilizations in the UK, Brodski and eight other classmates made a documentary about young activists leading the charge in Britain’s environmental movement.
Brodski believes she was selected for this award because of the relevance of the subject matter of her proposal and her extensive experience in documentary filmmaking. “Nowadays we think of human innovation as synonymous with progress, but sometimes we forget that all of those decisions have a lasting impact on the earth,” she says.
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