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Ecocinema awards its top prize to The Corporation

The closing ceremony of Ecocinema 4 th International Environmental Film Festival took place in the National Theatre in the city of Rhodes , Greece , due to a slightly windy weather that could have made the scheduled event in the Rodon outdoor theatre somewhat uncomfortable. Yet the indoor setting perfectly fitted the theme of the evening since the ceremony began with the screening of documentaries on Rhodes filmed by the Istituto Luce between 1924 and 1941. In fact, the theatre was built at the time when the Italians occupied the island (1912-1943) and wanted to pay tribute to Mussolini with magnificent buildings, just like Istituto Luce was created at the same period to produce propaganda films. The audience, mostly made of locals, reacted strongly when they saw young girls running down the stairs of a school building on the screen (probably their own mother or grandmother or even themselves).

After an hour and a half of screenings, the award ceremony began, closing an almost week-long festival which featured a wide variety of films, short and long, coming from all over the world. Forty of these films were even presented by their directors who could then share their ideas with the audience and other directors.

The debates in the jury were apparently pretty heated but they finally made their decision.

The jury for feature-length films composed by Artemis Zenetou, Menelaos Karamaghiolis, Julia Kasprzak, Yannis Sakiotis and Stefan Stolz awarded the top prize of 7,000 euros to The Corporation by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbot from Canada among the 12 films in competition. The 3-hour long documentary analyses with great detail the misdeeds of some corporations and is a well-documented yet biased effort to ask them for more accountability (see full review here). It also won the audience award which it shared with Pyla-Living together separately by Elias Demetriou. The latter is a film about how the Greek and Turkish people live on the island of Cyprus , a topic which recently made the headlines when a referendum was held last month. Not surprisingly, it drew a lot of positive reactions from the audience, which also happened to be moved by the humour of the film. To illustrate this humour, we could just recall for instance the moment in the documentary when an old Greek man living in the border city of Pyla says that the Turkish people on the island look more beautiful now that they intermingle with the Greek.

The second prize for feature-length film went to Mimi , by Claire Simon from France who received 5,000 euros. This moving story follows a woman in Nice as she recalls her past.

The jury for short films , composed by Masoud Amralla Al Ali, Mike Bolland, Koralia Georgakopoulou, Alexandra Karidis and Nikos Panayatopoulos chose between 31 films and awarded its top prize of 4,000 euros to The Travelling Talesman by Thierry Dory from Belgium . This short follows the journey of Congolese Pie Tshibanda in Belgium where he confronts his immigrant experience with the locals.

The second prize of 3,000 euros went to Surplus by Erik Gandini from Sweden , a film that subversively attacks western consumerism while using the visual language of advertisement to better convey its anti-globalization message.

The jury for Greek films , composed by Lucien Chabason, Vassilis Leontiadis and Polydefkis Papadopoulos gave the prize for Greek feature-length films to Marseilles, a Greek profile by Marc o Gastine, a fascinating journey into the Greek community of the French town of Marseilles, a city founded 2600 years ago by the Phoceans. Actually the film only had one competitor in this section. The prize of 5,000 euros was funded by the Greek Film Centre.

The jury had a little more Greek short films to choose from (4) and awarded its prize for the best Greek short film to 64 Squares, 32 Wooden Sticks by Thodoris Kalesis. This prize of 4,000 euros funded by the Greek Film Centre honours a film that follows for 12 days the blind participants to a chess competition in Constantinople as they convey their impressions.

A new competitive section was established this year by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and its MedWet initiative to award the best film on water or related ecosystems. It awarded 4,000 euros to The Turtle People by Surabhi Sharma from India . The documentary follows the struggle of people in North Kerala to protect Olive Ridley Turtles in a political battle against sand mining on their estuary where these endangered animals come to nest.

As for the MAP (Mediterranean Action Plan) – UNEP award of 5,000 euros for best Mediterranean film, it went to Summer Lightning by Nikos Ligouris from Greece, a film on a family who lives on the island of Crete and has decided to build a collection of photographs of the shore, hoping to shoot one day a picture of a rare summer lightning.

Finally, Ecocinema, the Greek Film Centre and the Hellenic Broadcast Company (ERT) awarded 65,000 euros to the script Sunrise – Sunset by Greek filmmaker Agelos Kovotsos for the first edition of the annual Documentary Programme. This prize is aimed at Greek filmmakers who develop a script on the environment. The winning script is then produced and the resulting film premieres the year after at Ecocinema.

This multiplication of prizes in cash and the diversity of the selection by artistic director Lucia Rikaki will definitely help to put Ecocinema on the map.

Olivier Delesse

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