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8th Annual Reel Earth Environmental Film Festl Set to Roll

4 April 2012




The REEL EARTH Environmental Film Festival is proud to announce its 2012 programme of the Best of Festival environmental films from around the globe. Now in its 8th year, REEL EARTH has a history of bringing together filmmakers, scientists, environmentalists and film enthusiasts to view, reflect on, debate and enjoy a diverse range of films with an environmental message.

This year, REEL EARTH promises to challenge perceptions of film festivals through creative programming, budget-friendly pricing, the EF-FACTOR (a short film competition for local youth), and the REEL BIG NIGHT OUT, an awards night that promises to be a great time for the whole family.

Festival Director Dorothee Pinfold says that the family-friendly approach does not belie the serious business of science or the serious science of filmmaking that is presented during festival week.

“The environment is everyones concern – and environmental issues are both broad and mainstream,” says Pinfold. “The festival films reflect this, with a range of topics from whales and waste to road trips and a man having a shave. Stylistically too, the films are not what you might expect. As well as traditional documentaries there are animations, allegories and historical dramatisation.”

The 2012 REEL EARTH Environmental Film Festival runs from Friday, 11 May through Saturday, 19 May in Palmerston North. During the week, 56 films from around the globe will screen at Downtown Cinemas. The festival also includes a programme of seminars, filmmaker Q&A sessions and school visits by filmmakers. The week is capped off with the REEL BIG NIGHT OUT at the Regent Theatre on Saturday, 19 May when the „best of festival films will be recognised and awarded. Categories include Best Feature, Best Short, Best Ultra Short, Best Science Communication, Best Film about Environmental Sustainability and Best Emerging New Zealand Talent.

“The REEL BIG NIGHT OUT will be a party where we celebrate the filmmakers success,” says Victoria Jakobs Festival Associate Director/Operations, “The best parties include the whole family, and thats what we want to achieve at the REEL BIG NIGHT OUT. Manawatus sensational Ukephoria! will headline the music and local schools ukulele groups will support them. We are also planning a big ukulele jam on stage that night.”

Female comedian of the decade Michele ACourt will be MC, and Olympic and TransAtlantic rower and environmentalist turned filmmaker Rob Hamill, will be the guest speaker. Hamill co-produced and is the main subject in the award winning Brother Number One, recently released to mainstream cinemas. Guests at the REEL BIG NIGHT OUT will also be treated to a special filming of the Best Feature Film.

Jakobs says that including children and families is an important step in engaging young people to care for the environment and learn about the power and fun of film. “We are backing up all this talk with sharp, family friendly pricing – including kids-get-in-free deals at selected weekend movie sessions and at the REEL BIG NIGHT OUT.”

Pinfold adds that while the festival is family and budget friendly, the quality of the films is paramount.

“This year, nearly 200 films from around the world were submitted,” says Pinfold. “This is a competitive film festival and films are juried and judged for their excellence and relevance in environmental documentary film making.

What excites Jakobs the most about the festival is the range of style and techniques used in the filmmaking. “People might think that environmental films automatically equates to „boring, worthy documentaries. Thats just not the case. This year we have a range of films including fiction, animation, comedy and, yes, documentary.”

Jakobs points to The Clean Bin Project, a Canadian comedic documentary in which partners Jen and Grant see who can swear off consumerism and produce the least amount of garbage in an entire year; What If?, an animated ultra-short from the UK that features an unfurling toilet roll, and Sky Whisperers Ranginui, a New Zealand short that explores our intimacy with the sky to show the range of stories and treatments.

“The Festival is a fantastic opportunity for New Zealanders to view thought-provoking and entertaining films about the environment,” says Jakobs. “Some of the films screening have already won prestigious awards, including People of a Feather, Winner of Audience Choice Best Environmental Film & Top 10 Most Popular Film at the 2011 Vancouver International Film Festival and Raising Resistance, Winner of Best Film at Visions du Reel film festival in Nyon.”

In addition to screening the best recent environmental films made in the world, through its seminar series, REEL EARTH provides a great chance for film lovers and budding filmmakers to learn about the practical and theoretical side of film making and storytelling. Over the course of five days (14 –18 May, 5 pm), Sumner Burstyn, the producer of This Way of Life, will speak about film making off the grid; Guy Ryan, film maker and chief executive of Inspiring Stories Trust will share stories of the road trips and film making workshops designed to connect young people with projects making a difference in their communities; screenwriter and freelance development consultant Steve Barr will talk about different genres within documentary film making and provide an analysis of each; and James Muir, whose River Dog won the 2011 REEL EARTH Best New Zealand Film, will discuss documentary activism. The final days seminar will include a Q&A and meet and greet with visiting 2012 filmmakers. Each of the seminar sessions will include time for informal discussion, questions and answers.

In an initiative new for 2012, amateur filmmakers up to age 21 and living in the Horizons Regional Council area have an opportunity to show their talents in the inaugural Horizons EF(Environmental Film)-Factor competition.

“The EF-Factor,” says Jakobs, “was designed to engage young people in the festival and the environment through film making. Weve asked entrants to make a two-minute environmental film about any topic beginning with "c". We expect, for example, films might be about cars, compost, carbon, and maybe well even get a cautionary tale or two. Entries will be posted on our website and Facebook page and will be judged on qualities such as if the film conveys a clear environmental message, inspires the audience to think or act, has a good narrative or story and holds the audiences attention. The judges will also consider if it is well-shot and edited and if the visual images support the story. ”

For a complete Festival schedule, film descriptions and EF-FACTOR online entry, visit


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