This award season, you don’t have to be green with envy of those in Los Angeles getting in on all the action. If you prefer the green carpet over the infamous red one, there’s something a little closer to home.
2011 marks the third edition of the Montreal Film Festival on the Environment, which showcases both homegrown and international cinematic talent on a variety of issues dealing with the environment, including sustainable development and ecology. Modern times mean modern concerns, and this year’s focus will be “Water: Challenge of The Century.”
Clean water has become somewhat of a luxury as nearly one-third of the world’s population lacks what North Americans take for granted. “Our seas, lakes and rivers are weighed down by a process of urbanization and industrialization that has run amok. How can we preserve this life-giving resource in the 21st century?” reads the website for the festival’s venue, Cinema du Parc.
Roger Rashi, organizer and co-founder of the FFEM, said he looks forward to new features this year. “Showing a great fiction film, Even the Rain, on the opening night of the festival has me very excited,” he said. “It is a new departure for us as we hope to mix in more fiction films in the festival’s program in coming years.”
The Spanish drama is a retelling of Bolivian protests in 2000 over government plans to privatize their water supply. The film straddles both this year’s theme, the life-sustaining liquid known as water, as well its side-focus on issues facing Latin America.
In that vein, Peruvian mining expose The Devil Operation and Waste Land, about recycling pickers at the world’s biggest garbage dump in Brazil, are also screening.
Rashi thinks that holding the FFEM makes sense for Montreal. “There are great environmental films being produced around the world and there are some great environmental festivals in Paris, Torino, Toronto, Washington, so why not in Montreal?” But according to him, what makes this particular festival so unique is how “we focus not on jury selection and prizes but on exchange with the public through panel discussions and Q & A sessions.”
A discussion will accompany the highlight of the 2011 FFEM, Quebec vedette Roy Dupuis’s Chercher le Courant’s. Debuting in English as Seeking the Current, Dupuis’s acclaimed documentary looks at the effects of Hydro-QuÃ©bec, as well as the government’s negligence when it comes to alternative renewable resources. “This movie has had great critical and commercial success, a rare feat for a documentary, especially if it takes on Hydro-QuÃ©bec,” affirmed Rashi, who labelled the organization “a sacred cow.”
In addition to film screenings, there will be a series of conferences covering different topics, including one with Dupuis. The green carpet doesn’t bring with it glitz and glamour, but it does promises Montrealers grit and grand debate.
The third FFEM will take place March 4 to the 10 at CinÃ©ma du Parc. For more information, check out www.cinemaduparc.com.