Buenos Aires’ International Environmental Film Festival opens today, with screenings and activities at 14 locations in and around the capital over the next week. Anne-Laure White highlights what to catch.
The third International Environmental Film Festival (FINCA) opens in Buenos Aires today, with over ten locations in the city and four in the province. Organised by the Multimedia Institute of Human Rights in Latin America and the Caribbean and the biannual Human Rights Film Festival, the inseparability of human and environmental rights is the focal point of this year’s lineup.
Film sections range from ‘Energy Horizons’ to ‘Climate Justice’ – all centre around the varying cultural perspectives and experiences that emerge from a rapidly changing earth. As ecosystems deteriorate and the health of our planet is bargained off to private interests, the films and documentaries at this year’s festival shed light on the impact of deteriorating ecosystems on communities, and ultimately, human culture, around the world.
Honorary guests and special events offer additional perspectives on the cultural manifestations of climate change. Nobel peace prize winner and eco-feminist Vandana Shiva will be speaking at panels about food sovereignty, seed laws, and resistance against agro-industry. On Monday, 6th June, she will be interviewed by Soledad Barruti, journalist and author of ‘Malcomidos‘. Three days of discussions will culminate in a brainstorming session for developing an action platform in the face of seed laws with Shiva, Marie-Monique Robin, and socio-environmental organisations. Marie-Monique Robin’s documentaries are being specially highlighted in a retrospective of her work. In light of changing seed laws in Argentina, ‘The World According to Monsanto’ and ‘The Harvest of the Future’ have a pressing importance.
The film lineup for this year is just as pertinent, featuring a selection from ‘CineEco’, Portugal’s annual environmental film festival, and a new section, ‘Escuelas’, of documentaries made by and about young students.
For the international film competition, there are exciting highlights on a range of topics, from ‘Dogtown Redemption’, a documentary about people living off of recycling in Oakland, California, to ‘Cherche Zone Blanche Désespérément’ (Desperately Searching for a Blank Zone), a French film about people who have developed sensibility to the artificial electromagnetic fields of cell phones or electric currents. A hit at last year’s FICCI (Cartagena’s International Film Festival), ‘La Buena Vida’ (The Good Life) tells the story of Tamaquito, a small village in Colombia whose inhabitants saw their land, resources, and mobility dwindle in the 1980s due to the encroaching open-pit coal mine, El Cerrejón. Director Jens Schanze situates the environmental and economic exploitation of this community within a global context – El Cerrejón produces almost half of all coal in Colombia, a leading exporter – while paying homage to the personal tragedy of mining.
Avi Lewis’s recent adaption of Naomi Campbell’s book, ‘This Changes Everything’, is another must-see this week.
In light of the festival’s focus on the social repercussions of climate change, the Latin American Documentary Competition section offers provocative, insightful takes on both the industries that create climate disaster and those that purport to alleviate it. FINCA will be premiering Darío Arcella’s documentary, ‘Nuestro Mundo- Anuhu Yrmo’ (Our World- Anuhu Yrmo). Filmed in Argentina, Canada, and Paraguay, the documentary investigates Northern NGOs and how their development of conservation and biodiversity policies are applied to the South, at times at the cost of the inhabitants themselves. “Biodiversity for whom?” the director asks.
The documentary ‘La Trashumancia’ (Trashumance) looks at the rapid changes in lifestyle being forced on migratory stock breeders, Mapuche indigenous people, and criollas in Argentine Patagonia. The non-competitive film sections offer a similarly spectacular lineup – look out for the ‘Mother Earth’ section, where ‘Baobabs entre Terre et Mer’ (Baobabs between Land and Sea) sheds light on the deforestation rampaging the unique baobab trees of south-west Madagascar. And for those seeking a more uplifting view of living with climate change, bring some old shirts and pants for a lesson on sewing and recycling your clothes!
FINCA will run from 1st-8th June. Tickets may be purchased online, or at any participating locations. For more information on film screenings, debates, and activities, check out the festival’s Facebook page, and website.
Lead image from ‘La Trashumancia’ documentary.