Staying true to its location in the natural beauty of Byron Bay, and to its commitment to shine light on the challenging issues of the day, BBFF has always encouraged submissions of cutting-edge environmental films and this year’s program is no different, with several exceptional films vying for the best film in the category.
It seems this year BBFF’s environmental films have one simple theme in common: taking back the control over our natural environment.
As such it is with delight that BBFF announces that the NSW Greens have shown their support for the festival by sponsoring our Best Environmental Film Award for 2015.
Festival Director J’aimee Skippon-Volke said the Greens Party was a perfect fit for the role of BBFF’s Environmental Partner – “sponsoring and supporting the work of conservation and sustainability themed films and the filmmakers behind them”.
“Environmental films feature strongly throughout our program and this kind of backing encourages both the festival and the dedicated filmmakers who are committed to spreading awareness of key environmental issues that might otherwise get overlooked.”
Tamara Smith, the Greens candidate for Ballina, said it was “a great honour and privilege to sponsor the Byron Bay Film Festival given the event’s history of screening cutting-edge environmental films”.
“I offer my congratulations to the Byron festival because of its long-establish commitment to the natural world through making environmental films a priority in its program.
“Film is a powerful medium for getting the message out there and as an agent of social change.
“It allows us to share stories from the frontline, about how people’s lives are affected, by toxic industries such as CSG mining.”
The Greens had long been supporters of the arts and culture and recognised the critical place of film in helping society to evolve, she said.
A long-time opponent of CSG mining and active fighter against its presence in the Northern Rivers, Adam Guise, Greens candidate for Lismore said he had met Dayne Pratzky, the anti-fracking figure immortalised in the film Frackman, which is screening at BBFF2015 and is a nominee for the Best Environmental Award.
“Dayne has given a lot of his life to fighting CSG intrusion onto people’s land and I admire his dedication,” Mr Guise said.
The film was “a call to action to people in Australia and the world to oppose the invasive global spread of gas mining”, he said. “I’m proud to be an extension of that social movement working to protect our land and water from invasive gas mining.”
Frackman is a docu-drama that follows the trials of Mr Pratzky – the Frackman – as he evolves from an easy-going Aussie bloke into an accidental, and radical, activist, denouncing fracking as “the biggest environmental issue Australia has ever faced”.
Mr Pratzky moved from Sydney to Tara in southeast Queensland to build a home on a block of land he had bought, only to find it engulfed by the industry after a gas company demanded access to it, telling him he couldn’t refuse. Travelling the world to take on powerful pro-fracking corporations, Mr Pratzky sets out to expose the long-term dangers of fracking to a mainstream audience and in a series of intrepid commando missions.
His personal narrative arc gives the film a gritty authenticity. He finds romance, for instance, with a beautiful fellow activist from the US, and their relationship is the gold in filmmaker Richard Todd’s story. Tickets to Frackman are expected to sell out, to buy yours, click here.
Another film in the running for the festival’s Best Environmental Film Award is Maarten van Rouveroy’s Black Ice. This feature-length documentary captures the first-hand accounts of the infamous Arctic 30 – a group of Greenpeace protesters who attempted to sabotage the world’s first Arctic oil-drilling platform and found themselves the centre of geopolitical controversy.
Black Ice charts the group’s adventure aboard the Greenpeace icebreaker Arctic Sunrise, their protest at the Prirazlomnaya oil platform, arrest, imprisonment and eventual freedom. It provides a behind-the-scenes look at the life and dramatic times aboard the Arctic Sunrise: tense, provocative, inspiring. For tickets, click here.
Banking Nature explains the spectacular financialisation of environmental conservation – by putting a price on nature.
The simple idea is that, if nature had a price, wouldn’t corporations and governments be less likely to destroy it? Reality proves rather more complex. And there are wider issues at stake. What guarantees do we have that our natural inheritance will be protected? And should our ecological heritage be for sale? For tickets, click here.
Divide in Concord is an entertaining feature-length documentary that follows the battle to ban bottled water in small town America. Concord, Mass, was where the colonists fired the infamous ‘shot heard round the world’ that began the American Revolution in 1775. It was where, 100 years later, the work of local resident Henry David Thoreau began the environmental movement. Now, Jean Hill, a fiery 84-year-old widow, begins a revolution of her own when she learns about the disastrous environmental effects of empty plastic bottles. For tickets, click here.
Ultima Chiamata (Last Call) is a wise and witty account of the rise, fall, and rebirth today of one of the most controversial and inspiring environmental book of all times, The Limits to Growth. Its message is today more relevant than ever: unlimited growth in a limited planet will bring our society and environment to the edge of collapse. Supported by extraordinary archive materials, the book’s authors provide a provocative insight into the reasons of the global crisis and share their visions of our common future. Is there still time for a last call – or will the momentum of the vested interests and sluggish political establishments take our species to extinction? For venue information, click here.
The winner of the Best Environmental Film Award, and other award winners, will be announced during the festival.
Find out more about the movies at http://www.bbff.com.au/program and by watching the trailers :