8 films to watch at the Environmental Film Festival

The Environmental Film Festival is coming to Melbourne, showcasing 43 films from around the world that explore key environmental issues of our time.

The theme of this year’s festival, which runs October 11 to October 19 at ACMI and Palace Westgarth Cinema, is ‘Face the Films’.

This message, says EFFA co-director Chris Gerbing, “calls for the community to face the facts around climate change, face the future impacts of the decisions we make today, and face the films which are capturing the situation unfolding around the world.”

Key subjects explored in this year’s festival include the impacts of industrial pollution and climate change, animal rights and the threat to natural habitats, and the beauty in untouched landscapes.

With no shortage of interesting-looking films, we combed through the program and chose eight titles we’re particularly keen to see.

Here they are below, with descriptions taken from the official website.

The Ancient Woods

The Ancient Woods is a nature documentary, but not as we know it. Filmed in one of the last remaining expanses of old growth forest in Lithuania, the minimalist filmmaking showcases the forest’s extraordinary wilderness, with animals preening, posturing, nesting and feeding as the seasons change around them. Deeply observational and void of commentary, the film is instead narrated by the sounds of the woods; rustling winds, bird calls, river currents and creaking trees. Immerse yourself in stunning, ancient wildness, and enjoy a deeply meditative experience.

The Panguna Syndrome

On the island of Bougainville, an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea, a revolution rages. The Bougainville Crisis – a civil war waged by colonial powers to crush the Indigenous resistance and protect interests in the giant mine of Panguna – may be just the tip of the iceberg. From 1998-2001, 20,000 lives were lost. The spirits of the land were violated. And if the Bougainvilleans have come out, against all odds, victorious of the physical war, they now have to face a psychological one.

Welcome to Sodom

If you’ve ever wondered where your electronic waste goes, this film is for you. Charting recycling efforts in the world’s largest electronic waste dump in Agbogbloshie, Accra, this film paints a devastating picture of environmental decay and the enduring impacts of colonialist exploitation. Capturing land littered with metal scraps, toxic fumes from smouldering fires of plastic and vast expanses of never-ending rubbish, Welcome to Sodom offers a rare insight into a place so damaged by waste, it almost appears a post-apocalyptic version of human life as we know it. Amongst this backdrop, our narrators – all local workers – forge a living, sharing their lives, hopes and histories. This film is a deeply human story of the consoling quality of hope, and an urgent call for action by those of us who gain the benefits of electronics without bearing the shocking environmental, health and social costs.

Living the Change

Sometimes it feels like the environmental, economic and social issues the world is currently facing are too big and too overwhelming to be dealt with by individuals. But each and every one of us has the power to make a difference, and Living the Change sets out to inspire us to do just that. Exploring solutions to the global crises we face today – solutions any one of us can be part of – this film presents inspiring stories of people pioneering change in their own lives and in their communities.

Anote’s Ark

Anote’s Ark follows the endeavours of Kiribati’s then-President, Anote Tong, to bring international attention to the Pacific nation’s impending submersion due to rising sea levels. With two uninhabited atolls already submerged, the people of Kiribati not only face losing their nation state, but also their culture.

The Devil We Know

In 1945, DuPont introduced Teflon to the marketplace and changed millions of American households. Today, a biopersistent chemical used in the creation of Teflon products (known as C8) can also be found in the bloodstream of 99% of all Americans. Investigating one of the biggest environmental scandals of our time, a group of citizens in West Virginia take on DuPont after they discover it has knowingly been dumping this toxic chemical into the drinking water supply. Directors Stephanie Soechtig and Jeremy Seifert deliver a compelling and ultimately terrifying investigative documentary that will make you question everything in your kitchen.

The Experimental City

In the 1960s, Athelstan Spilhaus – a visionary scientist and futurist comic strip writer – assembled a team of experts to develop a bold experiment: the Minnesota Experimental City (MXC). Frustrated by the growing problem of urban pollution, Spilhaus designed this new city to employ the latest technologies in communications, transport, pollution control and energy supply – all under a large-scale domed enclosure. But when a site in northern Minnesota is selected, politicians and sceptical scientists unite to challenge the project.

As Worlds Divide

Following the global financial crisis in 2008, Melbourne-based Rob Henry seeks out a new lifestyle and arrives to the tropical islands of Mentawai, Indonesia, where he finds himself immersed between two contrasting local villages. Rob invites us on this radical journey where, over the course of six years, he befriends locals at a nearby coconut farming village, and gradually becomes acculturated to the Indonesian modern-day and, later, Indigenous ways. Rob becomes immersed in the ‘Arat Sabulungun’ way of life, learning the ancient cultural traditions and rituals of an untouched Indigenous community living deep in the forests of the Siberut island, living in symbiosis with the surrounding habitat.

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