Green Movies at Encounters Documentary Film Festival

For our Cape Town and Jozi readers – bring the festival to Durban next year!

Buried in Earthskin

DIR: Helena Kingwill / SA / 2009 / 50min

Living at the end of the world, on the tip of Africa, very rarely do we feel threatened by nuclear contamination, yet this well-balanced, thoroughly researched and enlightening film brings the nuclear debate home; right into our houses. One night, journalist Kingwill has a frightening premonition. It impels her on a quest to uncover the truth about nuclear energy in South Africa. She hears the untold stories of the Namakhoi people and uncovers rumours on Koeberg itself, and then travels to a press briefing at Pelindaba. Determined to give a balanced view she weighs up the knowledge of nuclear analysts, economists, the government minister of minerals and energy, nuclear activists, and a wind farm owner. With the birth of her first child, the matter (and her road trip through our beautiful land) takes on a sense of urgency, especially as the South African government seems intent on ignoring renewable energy options and has commissioned pebble bed nuclear plants.

Courtesy of the Director

PRECEDED BY:
CARE TAKERS (x2)

DIR: Michael Raimondo / SA / 2010 / 2 x 14min

THE GUARDIAN: Tribute ‘Birdie’ Mboweni lives alone on Dassen Island. Her job is to study and protect the largest colony of African Penguins in Africa. She’s young and beautiful, and relishes this chance to be alone in nature, caring for this species that could be facing extinction. The filmmakers have captured both the harsh West Coast habitat and her quiet strength in a lovely short film about a passionate conservationist.

PATH INTO THE FUTURE: Cape Vultures are on the verge of extinction, and conservationist Kerri Wolters is committed to saving them. She understands the vital role these ‘ugly’ and misunderstood birds play in our ecosystems and must find a way to protect them from the muti trade, poisoning and urbanisation. This film captures her
unselfconscious passion for these remarkable birds and their habitat. Courtesy of SANBI, STEPS International and African Renaissance
CAPE TOWN V&A: MON 16 / 8.15pm + Q&A Sun 22 / 8pm + Q&A (Caretakers)

Dirt! The Movie

DIRS: Bill Benenson, Gene Rosow / USA
2009 / 85min / Narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis

Don’t be confused. English English also has a word for the “living, breathing skin”, unique to this planet, that has a negative connotation. Soil. But this is a positive film that traces the formation of ‘dirt’ over the millennia, how it has shaped us (at every burial we are reminded that we are dust) and how it features in many cultures’ folktales. Of course it is the very substance that sustains us – providing food, shelter, implements, warmth, even giving our wines their distinctive tastes if experts are to be believed. Its humorous and engaging tone makes more palatable the caveat that, even in our deceptively environmentally-conscious world, this common or garden stuff matters as much as the air that we breathe, and gives examples of diverse, exciting and innovative projects where people are getting their hands dirty… and enjoying it. Courtesy of Woolworths
Sponsored by:

CAPE TOWN V&A: SUN 15 / 4pm SUN 29 / 6.15pm
JOBURG SAT 21 / 8.30pm

EARTHCHILD

DIR: Lesedi Mogoatlhe / SA / 2008 / 48min

Deep amidst the poverty, filth and crime of one of Cape Town’s most deprived and dysfunctional townships, a profound transformation is taking place. Nokuphiwo Jada, a charming, radiant embodiment of the philosophy she espouses, is changing the lives and attitudes of children at a Khayelitsha primary school. Her effective use of yoga, meditation and other life skills is evident in the testimony of her young pupils, who speak with passion and pleasure of the influence of simple relaxation and awareness techniques on their outlook and ambitions. This uplifting film juxtaposes an uncompromising view of the squalor and degradation of the sprawling surrounds with the spirit of youthful energy, humour and hope that is beginning to blossom in its midst, and makes a compelling case for the nationwide roll-out of the Earthchild programme.

Courtesy of the Director, the SABC & EARTHCHILD / EARTHADDICT
Sponsored by:

PRECEDED BY:
UNEARTHING THE PEN

DIR: Carol Salter / UK / 2009 / 15min

The blight of illiteracy is poignantly exposed by a young goatherd, desperate to learn to read and write. Barefoot and wrapped in a simple cloth, he confronts poverty, official indifference and his village’s longstanding taboo against the pen, regarded by the elders as an instrument of colonial trickery. This compelling film captures the heroic determination of its thoughtful, articulate subject as he pursues the dream he shares with millions of children around the world.

Courtesy of the Director and the British Council
CAPE TOWN V&A SAT 14 / 4pm
LABIA: FRI 20 / 6.30pm + Q&A TUE 24 / 6.45pm

For the Best AND FOR the Onion!

DIR: Sani Elhadj Magori / Niger / France/ 2008 / 52min

Filmed in Galmi, Niger, this lingering and thoughtful film trims one of the most universally significant, and often most financially excessive, rites of passage to a bittersweet elemental level. For the Best and For the Onion charts the travails of Yaro, a hard man and an onion farmer, as he fights the elements, decreasing onion prices and competing farmers to finally provide his daughter Salamatou with nuptials that she and tradition deserve. Salamatou’s wedding teeters over the success of Yaro’s famous Galmi purple onion crop. Revelatory, succinct and simply told, the documentary follows Yaro and his labourers as they prepare the fields, transplant the seedlings, negotiate with the in-laws-to-be, sing the water in, seek advice, haggle over prices and bring in the harvest to ensure that his betrothed daughter doesn’t spend one more year as an embarrassed spinster.

Courtesy of the French Embassy

African Movie Academy Awards 2009, Nigeria – Best Documentary
Corsica.Doc 2009 – Best Foreign Film Award
Dokfest 2009, Munich – Award Best Documentary (Feature-length)
GZ DOC 2009, Guangzhou – Grand Prize Focus Competition
CAPE TOWN V&A: MON 16 / 6.45pm MON 23 / 6.45pm
JOBURG TUE 24 / 7pm

Pax Americana and the Weaponization of Space

DIR: Denis Delestrac / France / Canada / 2009 / 90min

Against the wishes of all other nations, and in contradiction of President Obama’s stated policy, the US government continues to gift billions to private corporations developing space-based weapons systems. Using footage from military briefings, interviews with opponents and spectacular graphics of the various weapons currently in research, Pax Americana exposes the likely consequences for the planet if the US military succeeds in occupying “the ultimate high ground”. These include the risk of a space-based arms race, nuclear retaliation by threatened powers, the likelihood of catastrophic error and the danger the debris from destroyed satellites and missiles pose to global communication systems. This important film reminds us that Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” project is frighteningly alive, and that the US is diverting earthly resources and ‘ingenuity’ to manufacturing the means of our obliteration. Courtesy of the Director and Films Transit International .

The Director travels courtesy of the French Embassy.
Courtesy of Director and Films Transit

Whistler FF Best Documentary 2009
CAPE TOWN V&A: THU 19 / 8.30pm + Q&A
LABIA: SUN 22 / 8.15pm + Q&A SAT 28 / 6pm
JOBURG WED 18 / 7pm

A Place Without People

DIR: Andreas Apostolides / Greece / 2009 / 55min

Tanzania’s Ngorogoro Crater is celebrated as one of the world’s largest natural havens, where the animals roam as they always have. But as beautiful and inspiring as it and other wildlife reserves around the world are, is this really what Nature intended? This insightful film interviews community leaders, wildlife specialists and anthropologists to dissect and challenge the Western conviction that for animals to survive, they should be separated from humans. For millennia, the Crater has been home to wild animals, and to the Maasai pastoralists and their domesticated animals. They co-existed quite happily. But in the late 1800s and early 1900s this image didn’t fit with the colonialist’s aesthetic of the “Wild” and their desire to ‘preserve’ that wilderness for themselves. As a result, thousands of indigenous people were forcibly displaced and impoverished in East Africa (and around the world), supposedly for the good of the animals. In the case of the Ngorogoro Crater, since the evictions, the ecology has changed, animal numbers have dropped, poachers have moved in, and safari camps deplete the remaining resources.

Courtesy of the Director and Films Transit International
CAPE TOWN V&A: SUN 22 / 6.30pm FRI 27 / 6.45pm
LABIA: SAT 14 / 8.30pm
JOBURG SUN 22 / 6pm

Tapped

DIR: Stephanie Soechtig / USA / 2009 / 75min

Water, water everywhere, but at what a price to drink! This instantly gripping, well-researched documentary investigates the many negative health and environmental issues that surround the commercialisation of H2O. The director looks at diverse and troubling elements of the industry, charting the water’s course from its source, where the systematic plunder of free water for vast profit for international companies is at the ongoing detriment of entire communities, to the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and the terrifying reality of vast plastic bottle continents. In between are many worrying factors, environmental damage, unfettered and unregulated profits, contaminated so-called ‘pure’ water, and the human and planetary suffering that comes with the manufacture of easy-to-toss plastic bottles. Plunging into the well of deceit and misinformation about water, the film is sobering, thought provoking and well-balanced, letting the researched facts speak for themselves.

Courtesy of Cargo Film & Releasing

Lisbon Indie Festival 2009 Award of Excellence
Colorado Environment Film Festival 2009 Best of Fest Award
CAPE TOWN V&A: TUE 17 / 6.45pm SUN 22 / 8.15pm THU 26 / 8.15pm
JOBURG WED 25 / 7pm

The Yes Men Fix the World

DIRS: Andy Bichlbaum & Mike Bonanno
USA / UK / France / 2009 / 87min

Audacious, irreverent and mischievous, crusaders Andy and Mike are a passionate pair of corporate pranksters. Determined to bring to light the real issues that US corporations such as Dow, Exxon Mobil and Halliburton spend a lot of money glossing over, they travel the globe adopting false corporate personas, spewing absurd notions and ideas, trying to draw attention to the real impact of big business and the Free Market model. When the BBC interviews a Dow official named Jude Finisterra (a.k.a. Andy) who announces that Dow will take full responsibility for the 1984 Bhopal tragedy and compensate the long-suffering victims, Dow’s stock fell by US$2 billion in 20 minutes. The corporate media cried foul that the hoax raised the victims’ expectations, but the victims were ecstatic that someone had finally fought on their side. Andy and Mike walked away, unscathed and more notorious, to fight another corporate for another day in their own bold, undeniably brave and outrageous way.

Courtesy of the British Council

IDFA 2009 DOC U! Award
Berlinale 2009 International Panorama Audience Award
CAPE TOWN V&A: FRI 13 / 8.45pm SAT 21 / 6pm
LABIA: SUN 29 / 8pm
JOBURG WED 18 / 9pm

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