Tenth edition, ten great documentaries in the International Competition, the same number in the Italian Competition and in the one for the Short Animations, that added to the ones in the various Focuses, Panoramas, Ecokids and Tributes, make for a program of over a hundred and twenty films. In the time that has acted as the backdrop to our little big history, a lot of things have changed. The state of the environment seems to have got worse: pictures painted as future scenarios have become reality. The great global warming emergency, with the disastrous consequences of climate change, is now here for all to see. This year environmental refugees outnumber those fleeing from war zones. The long-feared depletion of fossil fuels creates continual conflicts, most of them armed. The unstoppable growth in the production of goods, caused by the explosive industrial development of China and India, poses disturbing questions about a future now near. On the positive side, there’s increased public awareness and, even if a little timidly, these issues are finally making their way onto the political agendas of the world’s governments. Cinema, in its dual role of representing the common feeling and constructing the collective imagination, has reacted to the situation by producing a great number of well-made films dealing with environmental themes, to the point of creating an environmental genre within social documentaries. 2006 saw the apex of this new genre with an Oscar going to An Inconvenient Truth, the film by David Guggenheim with Al Gore, which in terms of box office takings took second place in the history of documentary cinema. There is an audience and neither the directors nor the industry want to lose it. So, the initial idea that led to the founding of this festival ten years ago, in unsuspecting times, i.e. that there was a need for an environmentalist cinema and the little that was already available needed to be valorized, has turned out to be a winning bet. In this tenth edition, for the first time we are not presenting a retrospective. Not only the documentary cinema of Robert Flaherty, Joris Ivens, Jean Rouch, Vittorio De Seta (all authors whose films we’ve presented), but cinema fiction as well, from the classic western about colonizing the new frontier to post-atomic, catastrophic science fiction, have dealt with the subject of nature in its beauty or its cruelty, and man’s relationship with it. The awareness of the destruction of the environment and the consequent cultural movements are relatively recent, going back barely 20-30 years, and only very recently are becoming a mass phenomenon. From this, the cinema has begun to develop a different way of presenting nature, the landscape. No longer “nature cinema”, but a more conscious “environmentalist cinema”, aware that the problem today is the destruction of nature by man. How can you portray the passage of seasons with a climate gone mad? How can you believe positively in science as progress (Ivens) when confronted with such environmental disasters? These considerations, along with a conviction of the urgency of the themes, brought us this year to give space to this modern “environmentalist cinema”, to the detriment of retrospectives. The Festival, after ten years of history, is the only one in the country that attempts to conjugate civil commitment and cinematographic quality investigating the new frontiers of the cinema and the environmental question, which increasingly encapsulates the themes of human rights. Rights to the environment, access to resources, to peace, to security and well-being, are more than ever woven together to form a single knot, that acts as the development model for modern society. Although it is a festival that doesn’t demand innovation, there are numerous national first showings, of which we list but a few: from Switzerland A Crude Awakening, a shocking film about when the oil runs out, to the Swedish film The Planet, a sort of manifesto of the environmentalist movement, in a masterly combination of content and language, the American film Who Killed the Electric Car?, a kind of thriller about the disappearance of the electric cars that were so popular in California, with some exceptional testimonials like Mel Gibson.
The environmental commitment of American celebrities is one of the underlying themes of the festival: we’ll be seeing Keanu Reeves and Alanis Morissette talking about climate change in The Great Warming, Daryl Hannah star of French Fries to Go, running about in an automobile run on chip oil and Leonardo Di Caprio who, in the process of finishing his latest environmental catastrophe documentary, presents two short films at Cinemambiente calling on us to defend natural resources. By German director Doris Dorrie, How to Cook Your Life between Buddhism and cuisine, illustrates the impact of food on our interior equilibrium. Noteworthy among the Italian presentations, is an interesting documentary entitled Le Vie dei farmaci by Michele Mellara and Alessandro Rossi that completes the argument of Sicko by Michael Moore on the business side of the American health industry. Oma e Chimica, the latest work by Turin-born Luca Pastore, presents us the effects on the environment of two chemical plants in the hinterland of Turin, while 13 variazioni su un tema barocco to be introduced by musician Roy Paci, tries to shed light on the oil-prospecting issue in Val di Noto. This edition is strengthening our relations with many environmentalist and NGO associations. A convention on social communication through audio-visual media will see the participation of some of the leading representatives of Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Legambiente and other NGO, as well as specialist production companies. A special on human rights, organized in collaboration with Amnesty International Italia will focus on the environmental and social situation in occupied territories and try to understand the consequences of the so-called “war on terror”. The pacifist Israeli and Palestinian protagonists of Bilin My Love will be in Turin to talk about the incredible struggle and the court ruling that led the Israeli supreme court to move the security cordon to cross the village of Bilin, making life there impossible for its inhabitants.
Another guest at the festival will be a British citizen mistakenly detained for two years at Guantanamo, the story that inspired Road to Guantanamo by Michael Winterbottom, as well as the Iraqi protagonist of My Country My Country that documents everyday life in contemporary Baghdad. The rich Panorama section will be offering short films and events, and will be the festival’s window on the world. It will include the Bicycle Film Festival of New York, the shorts of SOS Live Earth that accompanied the global event a few months ago and here presented by the organizers and directors, as well as the animations of the Free Range Studios, a rising star in American environmental communication. This year the festival accentuates its inclination to decentralize, proposing the Environment and work section in the infamous abandoned structures of the IPCA in Ciriè, and the Ecokids section in 15 towns in the province of Turin. This tenth edition of Cinemambiente will be hosting the Green Award, a sort of Oscar for environmentalist films awarded by the Environmental Film Festival Network. Closing the festival will be La via del petrolio by Bernardo Bertolucci, a documentary dated 1967 and recently restored. A well-structured programme of films and events, as well as a festival to mark our first ten years.