Ecofilms festival on Rhodes offers feast for eye and mind

The Ecofilms international film festival starting on Rhodes next week promises to be a feast for the eye and mind. More than 100 films from around the world, including many European and Greek premieres, will address a broad swathe of issues related to the environment and the people who interact with it. Among the feature-length films entered for competition are «Stroke,» by Katarina Peters, a German director who recorded the experience of her musician husband having suffered a stroke, and «Veil of Berta» by Chilean director Esteban Larrain, about 90-year-old Berta Quinterman, a Mapute Indian who heroically opposed a multinational company’s plans for a hydroelectric dam on her tribe’s sacred land. Thomas Balmes documents Chinese workers who are subjected to crushing work schedules for minimal pay in «Decent Factory.» «Czech Dream,» by Vit Klusak and Filip Remunda, shows the power of advertising in a film about a supermarket that wasn’t there. «Orgasm,» by Pablo Oliviero, portrays the concerns in the lives of two young unemployed people in Argentina, and Jehane Noujaine’s «Control Room» goes behind the scenes at Al-Jazeera as the channel’s journalists report on the escalating war in Iraq. The festival offers awards for the best feature-length film (with prize money of 7,000 euros for first place and 5,000 euros for second place); the MedWet award (5,000 euros); the short-film award (5,000 euros and 3,000 euros for first and second place respectively); and two audience awards coordinated by the Rhodes Cinema Club. During the festival, which runs June 21-26, there will be several informal meetings during which visitors can meet the directors, and have a chance to mingle at a wine and cheese party sponsored by the Canadian Embassy. An event that aims to include the local community beyond a few days in June, «Ecofilms is not just a week of fireworks,» said film director and the festival’s artistic director Lucia Rikaki: «The aim is for it to carry on into the life of the city and engage local communities away from the capital.» Already in the lead-up to this year’s festival, 4,500 primary and junior high school pupils from around the Dodecanese islands have attended screenings and workshops run by the Ecofilms team. Ecofilms 2005 is supported by the prefecture of the Dodecanese, the Ministry of Culture, Rhodes Cultural Organization, the National and Municipal Theater of Rhodes, the Rhodes Cinema Society and the Ramsar Convention Secretariat and Mediterranean Wetlands initiative (MedWet).

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