Europe Green Talks 2018: ecology and cinema


The ECOCUP Festival, following its main idea, proclaims documentaries as one of the best alternative sources of information on current environmental issues and a hot topic for discussion. Meetings held within Europe Green Talks 2018, demonstrated the effectiveness of cinematography not only as a source, but also as an active means of disseminating information. Film screenings, lectures and meetings with experts really aroused the interest of the audience, and professional discussions highlighted difficult but important environmental problems and considered specific ways to solve them.

It was precisely on this principle that the organizers selected films for screenings as part of Europe Green Talks 2018. These are films that not only highlight problems, but also offer a look at their solution from different points of view, that is, they help to see the problem much deeper. As festival director Natalya Paramonova noted, it was precisely the question of finding a balance that was important – between the interests of everyone who, one way or another, is affected by the solution of the problem. Since a one-sided approach leads to distortions and provokes new conflicts. The theme of the festival, in this regard, was sustainable development. 

Natalya Paramonova told Vegetarian about the objectives of the festival: 

“Initially, when we go into the topic of ecology, the conversation turns out to be quite general. That is, if you did not buy a plastic bag, that’s good. And when we go a little more complicated, the theme of sustainable development arises. There are 17 UN sustainable development goals, they include affordable electricity, affordable water, gender equality and so on. That is, you can look at these points and immediately understand what sustainable development means. This is already an advanced level.

And at the opening of the festival, only experts knew what sustainable development. So it’s great that we are somehow beginning to understand that we cannot do one thing to solve the problem. That is, it is possible to provide everyone with cheap energy, probably, if we burn all our coal, oil and gas. On the other hand, we will then destroy nature, and there will be nothing good in this either. This is a twist. Therefore, the festival was about how these problems are solved, about how to find this balance, including with some of your personal goals, internal and external meanings.

At the same time, our task is not to frighten, but to make the entry into the topic of ecology interesting and soft, inspiring. And to acquaint people with what problems they have, but also what solutions they have. And we try to select films that are documentary hits. And which are just nice and, most importantly, interesting to watch.

The theme of balance in the search for a solution to environmental problems in the films presented at the festival was really considered using more than concrete examples. opening film “Green Gold” director Joakim Demmer raised the extremely acute problem of land grabs in Ethiopia by foreign investors. The director faced the problem of balance directly during the filming – trying to maintain a compromise between the need to tell the truth about the situation in the country and protect people who are trying to fight against the arbitrariness of the authorities. Filming, which lasted 6 years, was fraught with real danger, and most of it took place in a region engulfed in civil war.

Film “Window in the yard” Italian director Salvo Manzone shows the problem of balance in an absurd and even comical situation. The hero of the film observes a mountain of rubbish from the window of his apartment and wonders where it came from and who should clean it up? But the situation becomes truly unsolvable when it turns out that the garbage cannot be removed, because it props up the walls of the house, which is about to collapse. An acute conflict of meanings and interests in solving the problem of global warming was shown by director Philip Malinowski in the film “Keepers of the Earth” But in the center of history “From the depth” Valentina Pedicini turns out to be the interests and experiences of a particular person. The heroine of the film is the last female miner, for whom the mine is her destiny, which she is trying to defend.

closing film “In Search of Meaning” This is not the first time Nathanael Coste has been shown at the festival. The picture won the main prize at last year’s festival and was selected after a grandiose worldwide success. Shot by an independent documentary maker with funds raised on a crowdfunding platform, without the support of film distributors, the film has been screened worldwide and translated into 21 languages. Not surprisingly, the story of a marketer who abandons a successful career and sets off on a journey around the world in search of meaning touches every viewer on different levels. This is the story of a man in the modern conditions of global industrialization, the commercialization of all aspects of life and the loss of connection between man and nature and with his spiritual roots.

The topic of vegetarianism was also heard at the festival. At one of the speed meetings with experts, a question was asked, will veganism save the world. Organic farming specialist and nutritionist Helena Drewes answered the question from a sustainable development perspective. The expert sees the path of vegetarianism as promising as it creates a simpler chain from production to consumption. Unlike eating animal food, where we first have to grow grass to feed the animal and then eat the animal, the chain to eating plant food is more stable.

Professional experts in the field of ecology were attracted to participate in the festival thanks to the program of the EU Delegation to Russia “Public Diplomacy. EU and Russia. Thus, the discussions around the films shown at the festival were distinguished by specific issues, and experts who specialized in the environmental issues raised in this particular film were invited to the discussions. 

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