Seven thought-provoking films about environmental issues facing our planet, that won awards at the International Environmental Film Festival of Paris, are headlining the second edition of the Montreal Film Festival on the Environment.
The festival is a cultural and political event featuring films like Kivalina, making its North American premiere, which is about a group of 400 Alaskan Inupiat residents who are forced to leave their home because it was sinking into the sea and who unsuccessfully sued 24 oil, electricity and coal companies for contributing to global warming.
The second edition of the festival, according to FFEM director Roger Rashi, is more expansive and in-depth than the first. “There’s a broader range of movies touching many more topics than we were able to touch last year.”
Rashi uses the film Uranium as an example; it’s about mining in a small French town “where for 50 years the state owned uranium mines and left uranium extracts and gravel just hanging around, without taking any means to hide it, or any precautions to prevent it from being spread.”
The festival also includes presentations by experts after each film and question-and-answer periods, where audiences will be invited to comment on the subject matter raised in the film.
Organizers of the festival hope to raise public awareness over serious environmental issues presented at the festival. While most people are aware of problems such as global warming and pollution, Rashi said there are many other issues that are marked as acceptable due to their legality.
“It’s a very interesting philosophical debate between legality and legitimacy. Even if something is legal, they are still harmful to the environment,” Rashi said.
The films and the public forums after the screenings are meant to encourage discussions that Rashi said are not happening often enough.
“Up to what point can we support actions which are, if not completely legal, just on the boarder of legality, when dealing with environmental issues?” Rashi recalled one of the festival’s films, the much-talked about documentary The Cove: “Are we legitimate in preventing Japanese whalers from overfishing the sea?”
Although the general reactions to the festival were positive, the organizers faced some challenges in pursuing their goal.
“There’s a little bit of cynicism among people saying “well we have heard a lot about these issues, do you have something new to say? What is it that you’re bringing to the table that we haven’t heard so far?'”
In reaction to these challenges, organizers decided to step up their game this year, in hopes of turning this long-term project into a success.
“We’ve had to be more cautious and creative in choosing movies and in bringing them to the festival, and in finding things that give you a bit of a different look,” said Rashi.
The Montreal Film Festival on the Environment is on at CinÃ©ma Du Parc from March 26 to April 1. Visit cinemaduparc.com for more information.