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People’s Choice Award Winners Announced

Press Release – For Immediate Use

People’s Choice Award Winners Announced - Aotearoa Environmental Film Festival

Palmerston North - Over 400 arm-chair critics cast votes for the People’s Choice Awards at the Aotearoa Environmental Film Festival. The annual Festival in the Globe Theatre screened 31 short and feature-length films, from seven countries.

The People’s choice for Best International Film was Faith Morgan’s 2006 release ‘The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil.’ "Beating out 16 other films, the film was at once fascinating and empowering, easily capturing the audience vote” says Festival co-founder Jason Blair. Morgan gives the viewer a concise perspective on the post-Soviet energy crisis in Cuba; which shows how communities pulled together, created solutions, and ultimately thrive in their decreased dependence on the black gold.

First runner up was ‘Buyer Be Fair’; a 2006 release by Seattle-based independent filmmakers John de Graaf and Hana Jindrova. They explore the average consumer's impact in fair trade, when they chooses products that provide an adequate wage to the producer and look after the land. “Again, the movie empowers the viewer” says Blair; “it was a well-made film, and while it did focus heavily on market-based solutions to global inequity; it did it in a way that meets the modern consumer where they are.”

Competition among our 14 entries for the Best New Zealand Film was fierce, with material from Otago University Natural History Filmmaking Course leading the pack. Dunedin-based producers Bill Morris and Kate Bradbury came away with the top award for their 2006 release ‘Mad Mac and the Flat Ugly Snail’. “The audience just loved it” says Blair “a great story told well, it easily captured the majority vote”. Morris and Bradbury trace the history of the paua industry through the life story of Mad Mac, one of the industry’s founding and most colourful characters. At 22 minutes, the film covers a vast territory, exploring Mac’s personal life, career, and features stunningly beautiful footage of the southern coast.

A close second in the awards was another Otago-based production, ‘Longfin’; co-produced by Lindsey Davidson and Melissa Salpietra. “An amazing foray into the life of our longfin eel; on the big screen it was natural history at it’s finest” says Blair “who ever knew there was such a story about eels?”

Honourable mentions were made for two New Zealand films; ‘Disarm’ and ‘Under Their Skin’. Produced by Wellington director Mary Wareham, Disarm is an in-your-face look at the global use and abuse of anti-personnel landmines. “At 67 minutes, Wareham’s movie was this year’s longest film, and one of the most challenging” says Blair. ‘Under Their Skin’ is a marked contrast, making a well-balanced and at times amusing investigation into South Islander’s attitudes about possums. “While neither film got top vote, they both deserve honourable mention” says Blair.

Entry forms for the 2007 edition of the Festival will soon be available at


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