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REEL EARTH Environmental Film Festival Awards Announced

REEL EARTH Environmental Film Festival Awards Announced

Palmerston North, New Zealand - The Jury and EF-Factor awards for the 2012 REEL EARTH Environmental Film Festival were announced tonight at the REEL BIG Night Out Gala hosted by New Zealand Female Comedian of the Decade Michele A’Court at the Regent Theatre in Palmerston North. Photos from the evening will be posted on

Dorothee Pinfold, Director of the REEL EARTH Environmental Film Festival said: “This must be the Year of the Canadians. At the 2012 REEL EARTH Environmental Film Festival, two Canadian films – People of a Feather and Second Hand – picked up three awards and another film, The Clean Bin Project, was the Festival Opener.”

People of a Feather, written and directed by Vancouver-based ecologist Joel Heath was awarded Best Feature Film and Best Science Communication Film. The jury said, “The feature film category received 78 entries covering an amazingly wide range of topics. People of a Feather combined scenes of both beauty and desolation, past and present in a compelling presentation. It is both entertaining and educational in equal measure and stood out from the competition.”

People of a Feather is the first film made by Joel Heath who explains that working as an ecologist he was studying sea ice ecology using underwater video and time lapse. He became compelled by the story of the People of Sanikiluaq and turned his cameras their way. “We were getting amazing footage under the ice and wanted to use that to show the world about the people, their relationship with the eider duck and how hydroelectric projects were impacting their sea ice ecosystems.”

The film was Winner of Audience Choice Best Environmental Film and Top 10 Most Popular Film at the 2011 Vancouver International Film Festival. In April, the film won Bronze and Silver World Medals for Direction and Cinematography at New York Festival’s World's Best Television & Films; in March, it was the winner of the Environment Award at the San Francisco Ocean Film festival.

Another Canadian, Isaac King from Toronto, was the winner of the Best Ultra Short for his film Second Hand. The jury was impressed with how animation was used in a humorous way to illustrate how alternatives to a consumer driven society.

REEL EARTH Festival Associate Director/Operations Victoria Jakobs said, “The REEL EARTH Environmental Film Festival provides a place for audiences to enjoy films that otherwise would not generally be seen in New Zealand. Each year, we aim to find the best and most interesting films about the environment from around the world. This year’s winners represented Canada, the UK, Australia, the United States and New Zealand and film makers from Germany and France received honourable mention. Not just representative of a wide geography, the festival films showed the range of film making techniques and included comedic documentaries, animation and historic dramatisations.”

The REEL EARTH Environmental Film Festival celebrates and encourages connections with the environment. Consequently, its awards are based on film making skill and clarity in telling a scientific or environmental story. Films in competition face a panel of jurors including a film maker, a scientist and a representative of the general audience.

The Gala also included awards for the inaugural EF-Factor, a challenge to film makers 21-years old and under to make two minute films about an environmental topic beginning with the letter ‘c’. Entered by 29 film makers in the Horizons region, winners in the three categories (ages 18-21, years 7-13 and years 1-6) were awarded Telecom Smart Phones.

“With an ever-increasing number of films and filmmakers, enthusiastic audiences, and through the EF-Factor, young film makers, the REEL EARTH Environmental Film Festival in Palmerston North, occupies a unique place in the national film festival calendar,” says Pinfold. “The Festival caters to the growing interest about matters environmental.”

For the 2012 REEL EARTH Environmental Film Festival, nearly 200 feature length, short and ultra-short films were entered, representing 13 countries. The Festival ran from 11 – 19 May and screened 56 films.

2012 REEL EARTH Environmental Film Festival Award Winners:

The Best Feature Film and Best Science Communication Film awards were presented to People of a Feather, directed by Joel Heath. Featuring ground-breaking footage from seven winters in the Arctic, People of a Feather moves through time, the seasons, and into the world of Inuit on the Belcher Islands in Hudson Bay and their unique cultural relationship with the eider duck.

Honourable mentions for Best Feature Film went to Your Environmental Road Trip directed by Ben Evans (USA) and Raising Resistance directed by Bettina Borgfeld (Germany).

Honourable mention for Best Science Communication Film went to The Diaper Dilemma, directed by Jacqueline Farmer (France).

The Best New Zealand Emerging Talent was presented to Rachel Patching & Roland Kahurangi for Gone Curling. The deep south of Central Otago is the last place in the world that still up-holds the traditions of outdoor curling. A changing climate means that curling outdoors may soon become a thing of the past and these passionate curlers may never again be able to compete for New Zealand’s oldest sporting trophy - the Baxter’s Cup.

Of Gone Curling the jury said, “Rachael demonstrated a fine eye for composition. Her talent is evident in the way she was able to construct a narrative that not only revealed the story of curling in New Zealand but also how climate change is threatening its outdoor existence.”

Honourable mention for Best New Zealand Emerging Talent went to Nicole van Heerden for The Huia.

The Best Short Film was presented to Well Beyond Water, directed by Andy Ross (UK and Australia). A personal documentary that records English composer, Andy Ross’s immersion in the sheep farming community of a remote part of New South Wales, Australia when he was commissioned to compose a piece of music about Australian farmers’ experience of the prolonged drought. The jury said, “Well Beyond Water is an engrossing and appealing film which captures the optimism of people who think outside the square and attempt to harness a natural ecology for viable animal husbandry.”

Honourable mention for Best Short Film went to Waste Not, directed by Ruth Hessey (Australia). The Best Ultra Short Film was presented to Second Hand, directed by Isaac King. Would you rather save time? Or save stuff? The imbalance created by modern obsessions is illustrated through the story of two neighbours.

Honourable mention for Best Ultra Short Film went to What on Earth: Out of the Blue, directed by Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey (UK).

The Best Environmental Sustainability Film was presented to Carbon for Water, directed by Evan Abramson and Carmen Elsa Lopez (USA). In just five weeks, 4.5 million people’s lives in Kenya were changed for better when an innovative company financed the distribution and maintenance of 900,000 water filters – funded entirely by carbon credits.

“This was the first year for the EF-Factor and we are really pleased with the amount and range of entries,” says Jakobs. “What these kids came up with was incredible and if the planet is in their hands, maybe it stands a chance.”

Honourable mention for Best Environmental Sustainability Film went to The Diaper Dilemma, directed by Jacqueline Farmer.

The Audience Choice Award was presented to Grant Baldwin and Jen Rustemeyer for The Clean Bin Project.

The EF-Factor Award for Under-21 age group was presented to Sophie Kent and Katie Ayling of Palmerston North Girls High for the film Cole’s Conscience Confronts him about his Carbon footprint; to Sarah Ridsdale for the film Cows and Cleaner Dairying in the years 7 – 13 category; and to Sam Ridsdale for the film Careful Car Washing in the years 1-6 age group. The Ridsdale brother and sister film makers were the only entrants who are home schooled. All EF-Factor films can be seen on

Festival Sponsors

The 2012 REEL EARTH Environmental Film Festival principle sponsors are: Palmerston North City Council, Massey University, MWH New Zealand, New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre and Palmerston North City Library. Additional sponsors include Pub Charity, Pelorus Trust, Telecom, Horizons Regional Council, Central Energy Trust, Downtown Cinemas, Destination Manawatu, Manawatu MoreFM, Positive Futures Trust, British Council, Homebuild Homes, Web-o-matic and The Lion Foundation.

About the REEL EARTH Environmental Film Festival

The REEL EARTH Environmental Film Festival is a competitive film festival, established in 2004 by a group of

Palmerston North scientists who had a shared passion for film and a sustainable future. Now in its 8th year, the REEL EARTH Environmental Film Festival brings together filmmakers, scientists, environmentalists and film enthusiasts to view, reflect on, debate and enjoy a diverse range of films with an environmental message. The vision of the festival is to engage people about the environment by screening and awarding on a competitive basis the best of films made each year about the environment. In recognition of the Festival’s impact and excellence, the Reel Earth Environmental Film Festival achieved Finalist status in New Zealand’s annual Ministry for the Environment Green Ribbon Awards in 2011. Media contact


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