Preview: Rhodes Ecofilms Festival Begins This Week
New films about Canada's tar sands, the damage caused by extractive industries in the Amazon rainforest, and Aristotle's philosophy on nature will be among the opening-day fare Tuesday at the Rodos International Films + Visual Arts Festival Ecofilms, held annually on the Greek island of Rhodes.Despite its title, the Ecofilms festival does not only show movies with environmental subjects, casting a broader net to include films dealing with social issues and international culture, including pictures about members of the Palestinian diaspora, a Iranian painter and ceramist, orphaned children in South Africa, life in an isolated Serbian village, young Spanish and Senegalese dancers who travel to each other's continents, and the effects of the IT revolution in India. But eco-themed movies play a prominent role in the festival, which encourages directors to submit movies related to "the natural, the human and the built environment, the water and the wetlands."
Alberta's tar sandsTar Sands: Canada For Sale, a 2008 documentary by Canadian director Tom Radford that screens Tues., June 23,
follows an international cast of characters struggling to cash in on an unprecedented oil boom playing out in the backwoods of Canada. What looks like dense topsoil is actually black gold, once dismissed as bottom-of-the-barrel petroleum, expensive to extract, dirty to refine. But with the U.S. craving energy security and new super-consumers like China and India starving for oil, Canada’s "unconventional" crude has become "conventional." The Tar Sands is the largest capital project on the planet. Critics claim it is also the world’s biggest environmental catastrophe. The stakes are global; the battle intense; the outcome uncertain. It comes down to one simple idea: whoever controls the Tar Sands, controls the future.Rainforest cultureAnother movie showing the same day, The Sandpit, by Chilean director Sebastian Sepulveda, was filmed in the Brazilian Amazon, where the Guajara community, made up of descendants of slaves, remains "relatively alien to urban influences, preserving their ancestral lifestyle based on myths about spirits and personifications of evil." But the planned construction of a bridge would threaten the nearby sandpit seen as "the place where the spirits live and partake with the inhabitants of Guajara," and with it, the local culture.
Philosophy and natureThe short film Is King Alexandros Dead or Alive? by Greek diriector Giorgos Panteleakis, also screening on opening day, looks at
the Aristotelian thought impressed upon Alexander the Great in an attempt to speculate how our world might have turned up if he had lived longer so that the Greek thought and spirit had prevailed, while recording the disaster caused in our planet by the dominant culture.
Other environmental films to be screened during the festival, which runs through Sat., June 28, include Colors of the Marsh, a French documentary about wildlife artists working in the Britton Marsh; The Deadline, a UK film about a Greenpeace boat trying to track down a network of pirate fishing vessels off the coast of West Africa; The Invisible Bird-Photographer, a portrait by a Hungarian director of the winner of the BBC's prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition; Addicted to Plastic, a Canadian documentary tracing the path of plastic pollution around the world; The Forgotten District, about Belize Mayan communities trying to promote ecotourism; and the American films Homegrown Revolution and King Corn.
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