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11th Annual Reel Earth Environmental Film Festival


The REEL EARTH Environmental Film Festival is proud to announce its 2015 programme, featuring the best recent environmental films from around the globe relevant to a New Zealand audience. Now in its 11th 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 continue its innovative formatting, creative programming, budget-friendly pricing, environmental forums and fun events such as the pop-up outdoor cinema.

Festival Director Victoria Jakobs 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 everyone’s concern – and environmental issues are both broad and mainstream,” says Ms. Jakobs. “The festival films reflect this, with a focus on human interactions with or on behalf of the environment, with a number of films following personal journey’s indelibly linked to wider advocacy, and activism, and even entrepreneurialism on behalf of the environment. The focus of 2015 is on the inspiring stories of people near and far, and the causes they advocate on behalf of. We then try to bring these ideas and discussions to a local or regional level, and that is I believe the festival really gets exciting, as it educates and inspires a new group of people to create positive change.”

The 2015 REEL EARTH Environmental Film Festival runs from Friday, 13 November through Friday 27 November in Palmerston North. The festival opens at 6pm on Friday 13 November with one of it’s headline films, the award winning film Just Eat It: A Food Waste Movie. Ms. Jakobs says this film was chosen because it’s Canadian filmmakers, Grant Baldwin and Jen Rustemeyer were festival favourites (People’s Choice Winners) in 2012. Just Eat It follows a similar format to their previous film, with Grant & Jen exploring the issue of food waste, whilst attempting to live for a year only on waste food.

“Food waste is a very topical issue globally and locally – and a lot can be done with so called ‘waste food’.” says Ms Jakobs. “Many people probably don’t realise how much waste we create, but also how many useful channels are opening up to redistribute waste food. We have a really good example in Palmerston North, with a local organisation, Just Zilch, redistributing excess and ‘waste’ food from a number of local businesses to people in need. I was amazed that over 30 local cafes, supermarkets and other food suppliers support Just Zilch. We aim to do our bit too, by donating the koha proceeds of a repeat screening of Just Eat It at our outdoor cinema on 20 November to Just Zilch.”

The rest of the weekend features films covering a range of environmental issues from sustainable living to light pollution to the interrelationship of the natural environment and the people who reshape it. Ms Jakobs believes that the best part of attending a festival is the conversations it sparks, and some very interesting talk is on the cards.

“During the weekend there are three key topics we explore, each of which is culturally loaded” says Ms Jakobs.

“We deal with the still taboo, or at least uncomfortable, topic of our mortality and what happens to our bodies after we die in Ever the Land. This is a touching film that explores the concept of green burials by following one terminally ill man’s quest for a green burial. We have the filmmaker, Amy Browne, coming from Australia to talk after the film, as well as local Funeral Director, Graeme Procter from The Lychway talking about green burials locally.”

“Graeme said that more and more people, especially younger people, are wanting to be buried in a sustainable manner, which is interesting because we all want to think we are immortal, especially young people, right?”

As a parent, Ms Jakobs knows that it can be very difficult to challenge conceptions of parenting, so Project Wild Thing could spark some debate, as it seeks to ‘re-wild’ children by encouraging them back into nature.

“I find parenting is a constant battle between wanting my kids to have the freedom I had, and wrapping them in cotton wool. So, whilst he’s been on weeklong tramps and climbed mountains, I have only just let my son, at 11, walk home from school – and you know, he loves it!”

Following on from the film, on Sunday 22nd November, is a presentation by Heather Knox, founder of the Manawatu Family Microadventures group of around 200 families that meet up to explore and play outside. She talks about microadventures, shares her research on the importance of ‘nature play’ and launches the ‘Dirty 30 Challenge’ for local families.

“Another film and discussion I am really looking forward to is Ever the Land, which follows the construction of Aoteroa’s first ‘Living Building’, built by Ngāi Tūhoe from their treaty settlement. I think there are important lessons to be learnt from how Tūhoe approach their future, because it is from a different world view from the mainstream, infused by the past and embedded in sustainability and Tikanga Maori.”

Ngāi Tūhoe trustee Patrick McGarvey travels to Palmerston North to talk about the film Ngāi Tūhoe’s unique building and vision and on Sunday 15 November.

“Tūhoe have always been a very independent iwi, with a unique identity. That their vision for their future is embodied in this ‘living’ building is really groundbreaking, and I think it’s a great privilege for Palmerston North audiences to be able to take part in a dialogue with Patrick after the film.” says Ms Jakobs.

There will be plenty more discussion on Sunday 22nd when Reel Earth hosts a day of film and environmental forums with a local focus.

“And Reel Earth wouldn’t be complete without something a bit different” says Ms Jakobs, referring to the pop-up outdoor cinema they have created on George St, Palmerston North’s boutique shopping street, in a gap between two buildings.

“It doesn’t look like much now, but it transforms on movie night.”

Reel Earth’s pop up cinema screens on Friday 20 November and Friday 27 November from 8.15pm.

For ticket reservations, film descriptions a complete schedule of films and EF-FACTOR online entry, visit


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