Ecokids 09 festival in action

Enthusiastic children from primary schools on Rhodes and a contingent that came by boat from Tilos enjoyed the first session of Ecokids Rodos 09 yesterday. A groundbreaking offshoot of Ecofilms International Film and Visual Arts Festival, Ecokids uses screenings and hands-on activities to get youngsters thinking about the environment and cinema. The 16 films in this year’s program include several Greek and European premieres, notably Suzie Templeton’s 2008 Oscar-winning animated short «Peter and the Wolf.» With the emphasis on getting children actively engaged, classes choose one of five alternative screening programs and one of three activities – or they can suggest an alternative. This year’s activity options include choosing an environmental topic for a one-minute film, contributing to an anthology of participants’ reactions to the festival that will be published and exhibited at next year’s festival, and making a storyboard. And there’s a blog where they can post their impressions ( Every year Ecokids offers a workshop on a different aspect of cinema and this time children will have a chance to learn about the different techniques of animation. Ecokids continues to April 4 and 6,000 pupils are expected to attend, including a school group from Mytilene who will be on Rhodes for a school excursion. For the first time this year, the festival has collaborated with the teacher training department of the University of the Aegean, whose students will attend the screenings and help evaluate the festival by handing out questionnaires to teachers and schools. Ecokids is funded in its entirety by the Municipality of Rhodes, which also bears the lion’s share (80 percent) of the cost of Ecofilms. Speaking to the press on March 26, Lucia Rikaki, artistic director of Ecofilms, paid tribute to local government authorities on Rhodes for their support. Ecofilms 2009 will be held on Rhodes June 23-28, with 108 films from 42 countries. And 67 films from 34 countries will compete for two awards in each category of short-, medium- and feature-length films. A new Green Award from the Environmental Film Festivals Network, of which Ecofilms is a founding member, will go to the film that best promotes awareness of environmental issues. Artistic qualities and originality will also be taken into consideration.

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