As a strong advocate in raising awareness about environmental issues, former documentary student Gary Bencheghib has recently set out on a unique voyage to combine his two passions: the environment and documentary filmmaking.
Beginning in 2009, Bencheghib founded Make A Change World, an organization to raise awareness about environmental pollution and sustainable waste management. The platform was also used to distribute a miniseries to promote the official release of his New York Film Academy thesis film, The Reclamation, which will soon be a 40-minute documentary set for release in early 2017.
“NYFA completely changed my life in giving me the best formation imaginable on the entire filmmaking spectrum — from shooting to editing and producing,” said Bencheghib.
The two initial episodes of the series have reached over 3 million people after having been pirated by different sources in Indonesia. The miniseries was covered by CNN, Rolling Stone, and various international media outlets, while also helping to increase the official petition against proposed artificial islands in South Bali by 20,000 signatures.
His latest project, Recycled Mississippi, is an ambitious project in which he attempts the first ever zero-waste expedition by traveling one of the world’s longest and most polluted rivers on the “ioco,” a boat made from plastic bottles and recycled materials.
The expedition team is made up of 6 environmentalists: expedition leader Dan Cullum, who has been leading ‘recycled expeditions’ on kayaks made from plastic bottles in New Zealand for the past three years; filmmaker and producer Gary Bencheghib; the Swiss Engineering duo includes Livio Knori, the Captain of the vessel and responsible for the overall design and build of the boat ‘ioco’ and Hannes Stauffer, responsible for the woodwork and mechanical componentry of ‘ioco’; and American adventurers Sebastian Engelhart and Zander Hartung.
The international team will be producing a 40 minute documentary about their expedition and the people and communities along the river that are working to protect and preserve it. Their journey commenced in Minneapolis, MN on the 19th of June and will finish at the end of August at the Gulf of Mexico.
“This project has by far been the biggest I have undertaken to date,” said Bencheghib. “The expedition, on many levels, has been an experience of a lifetime, filled with amazing encounters. The river people who we have met along the way have been a testament to the deep care people around the world have for our planet.”
The film, Mississippi Recycled, should be released in early 2017 and will be made freely available to students and teachers worldwide as an environmental platform to living a more sustainable life.
More recently, Gary and his environmental activist partner and brother Sam were featured in EcoWatch, the nation’s largest environmental sustainability news site, for paddle boarding the Gowanus Canal and Newton Creek. The brothers are creating an 8-part video series to draw attention to polluted waterways. Their series #BroCleanBKLN premiered on Facebook Dec. 7, 2017.
Gary was quoted in EcoWatch as saying, “In increasingly uncertain times for our environment, there has never been a more important time than now to take action to clean up and restore our waterways. If we can start by showing a good example here in New York, the world will follow!”