Filmshows on Biodiversity
ECOMOVE International carried out an extensive project to support the UN-Conference on Biological Diversity 2008 (in Bonn, Germany). In the framework of this project the conference had been promoted by a complementary cineastic, educational and cultural programme. For this reason a series of high quality film and TV productions had been compiled and presented at various film screenings within Germany in the run-up to the conference. The screenings had been accompanied by discussions and a special school programme.
Films of the mehrblick film series
Documentary, France 2006. 82 min., Philippe Calderon
In the heart of the African Savannah, in south-eastern Burkina Faso, protected by their tower-like construction several metres high, the termites are going about their tireless work when suddenly, all their lives are at stake. A series of catastrophes descends upon them: a tropical rainstorm floods the chambers and tunnels of the filigree, branched construction, and just a short distance away an army of carnivore ants is assembling and preparing to attack. A merciless battle ensues...
Breathtaking images lead into the termites’ elaborate megalopolis and put viewers under the spell of the impressive collective intelligence of these skilled survivors.
THE BUSHMAN’S SECRET
Documentary, South Africa/Australia/Germany 2006, 70 min., Rehad Desai
Alongside those of the Amazon, South Africa’s flora and fauna are among the most important in the world. The “capensis” is said to contain some 8600 species, the density of which exceeds even that of the tropical rain forest. Here lies dormant a medical resource that has hardly been tapped yet – except by the indigenous population, the San. In recent years the biological diversity of this region has moved into the centre of the global pharmaceutical giants’ frenetic search for new chemical active substances. For the San, protecting the diversity of species and the issue of disposal rights over the bio-resources have assumed existential significance – also from a cultural point of view, for knowledge of healing is an integral part of their culture. In his documentary film, the South African director Rehad Desai tells of this dual struggle being waged by the San: the preservation and protection of their natural living environment, which is simultaneously a battle to prevent the sell-out of their traditional culture. It shows impressively how the San, as bushmen, were marginalised both economically and socially over the centuries. Ever since Western pharmaceutical companies had their attention drawn to the effect of the Hoodia cactus – a plant which, thanks to its impact in allaying hunger, is scheduled for marketing as a slimming drug – the culture of the San and the preservation of their traditional knowledge have been more under threat than ever.
FAST FOOD NATION
Feature Film, USA 2006, 90 Min., Richard Linklater,
featuring: Ethan Hawke, Wilmer Valderrama, Patricia Arquette, Bruce Willis
FAST FOOD NATION examines the health issues and social consequences of America's love affair with fast food and features an all-star cast that includes Greg Kinnear, Ethan Hawke, Kris Kristofferson, Patricia Arquette, and Luis Guzman. Mickey's is the most popular fast-food chain in America, and The Big One is the top-selling burger that put them on the map. When the higher-ups at Mickey's corporate offices learn that the frozen meat patties used to make the wildly popular burger have somehow been tainted with contaminated meat, they send marketing executive Don Henderson (Kinnear) on an urgent mission to ensure quality control and find out precisely how their product became compromised. It's a long way from the Southern California boardroom to the immigrant slaughterhouses, though, and the further Henderson works his way through the bustling feedlots and toward the ubiquitous restaurant sites that have become a staple of modern culture, the more he begins to realize just how dangerous convenience can become when it leads to blissfully ignorant complacency.
THE QUEEN OF TREES
Documentary, USA 2005, 52 min., Mark Deeble/Victoria Stone
The fig tree and fig wasp differ in size a billion times over, but neither could exist without the other. Their extraordinary relationship is a pinnacle of co-evolution, and the basis of a complex web of dependency that supports animals from ants to elephants. Each individual fig is a microcosm – a stage set for birth, sex and death as the tiny players battle against predators and parasites to fulfill their mission. It is one of the most amazing stories in the natural world – a tale of intrigue and drama, set against grand Africa and it's wildlife.
LIFE RUNNING OUT OF CONTROL
Documentary, Germany 2004, 60 Mins., Bertram Verhaag/Gabriele Kröber
In the mid-eighties science, with the help of genetic technology, finds the key to mastering the earth and especially its creatures. Suddenly, everything seems possible! Twenty years later the film embarks on a global journey to explore the progressive and continual genetic manipulation of plants, animals and human beings: Due to a disastrous crop with genetically modified cotton many Indian farmers face ruin, have to sell one of their kidneys or resort to committing suicide. In Canada genetically modified canola seeds blow onto the fields of neighbouring organic farms, thus making ecological farming impossible. The Icelandic parliament sells the entire pool of genes of its population to a private company that, in turn, intends to turn over the data at a profit to the pharmaceutical industry and insurance companies. A research project is designated as ”vampire project” in which blood, hair and saliva samples are taken from 700 so-called ethnic groups on the verge of extinction on the pretext of preventive health. The gene samples wander into the laboratories of industry to provide the basis for valuable patents.
Worldwide only a handful of idealistic scientists are defying industry, doing independent – without the financial support of industry – research on the effects of transgenic animals and plants on the environment and our health when we consume genetically modified food.
WE FEED THE WORLD
Documentary, Austria 2005, 95 Mins., Erwin Wagenhofer
Every day in Vienna the amount of unsold bread sent back to be disposed of is enough to supply Austria's second-largest city, Graz. Around 350,000 hectares of agricultural land, above all in Latin America, are dedicated to the cultivation of soybeans to feed Austria's livestock while one quarter of the local population starves. Every European eats ten kilograms a year of artificially irrigated greenhouse vegetables from southern Spain, with water shortages the result. In WE FEED THE WORLD, Austrian filmmaker Erwin Wagenhofer traces the origins of the food we eat. His journey takes him to France, Spain, Romania, Switzerland, Brazil and back to Austria. Leading us through the film is an interview with Jean Ziegler, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.
WE FEED THE WORLD is a film about food and globalisation, fishermen and farmers, long-distance lorry drivers and high-powered corporate executives, the flow of goods and cash flow–a film about scarcity amid plenty. With its unforgettable images, the film provides insight into the production of our food and answers the question what world hunger has to do with us . Interviewed are not only fishermen, farmers, agronomists, biologists and the UN's Jean Ziegler, but also the director of production at Pioneer, the world's largest seed company, as well as Peter Brabeck, Chairman and CEO of Nestlé International, the largest food company in the world.
THE CAVE OF THE YELLOW DOG
Feature Film, Mongolia 2005, 90 Mins., Byambasuren Davaa,
featuring: Batchuluun Urjindorj, Buyandulam Daramdadi, Nansa Batchuluun
A Mongolian nomad family find themselves in disagreement when the oldest daughter, Nansal, finds a dog and brings it home. Believing that it is responsible for attacking his sheep, her father refuses to allow her to keep it. When it’s time for the family to move on, Nansal must decide whether to defy her father and take her new friend with them. Oscar-nominated director Byambasuren’s follow up to the hugely successful THE STORY OF THE WEEPING CAMEL is a thought provoking mix of documentary and drama that tells the story of the age-old bond between man and dog, a bond which experiences a new twist through the eternal cycle of reincarnation in Mongolia.
THE LAST TRAPPER
Feature Film, France/Canada/Germany/Italy 2004, 94 Mins., Nicolas Vanier,
featuring: Norman Winther, May Loo, Alex Van Bibber
Norman, 50, lives in the Yukon woods with a Nahanni Indian woman named Nebraska. A long-time trapper, he doesn’t need society's luxuries. He has his dogs and he eats what he hunts or fishes. He handmade his sled, his rackets, his hut and his canoe with the wood he gets from the forest. Leather is tanned by Nebraska for him in the old way, as the ancient Sekani Indians did. Hunting lynxes, beavers, martens, wolves and wolverines provides the rest. Each spring, he goes to Whitehorse or Dawson to sell furs and buy sundries: cigarette tobacco, ammunition, traps, flour, matches, candles and batteries for his radio. He travels with his dogs. They are silent and allow him to gaze undisturbed at the majestic landscapes he crosses. That is what makes Norman trap. The Great North is in him, and Nebraska carries it with her, in her blood, because the boreal forest is her people's mother. The audience gets a day-to-day portrait of a pure spirit, existing in accord with his environment, and living respectfully off the lives of fellow creatures.
Swe/Nor/Dk 2006, 80 min., Michael Stenberg/ Linus Torell/ Johan Söderberg
The world is suffering from environmental stress. The process referred to as “climate change” in public discourse is the consequence of systematic plundering of our planet’s resources. Scandinavia’s most costly and lavish documentary film to date tells of the industrial nations’ hunger for growth, the need of the newly industrialised countries to catch up, and the fate of the Easter Islands, whose society destroyed itself. The directors filmed in 25 countries and questioned an impressive range of scientists. In an excitingly edited film featuring many video clips, they confront the viewer with the contradiction inherent in images of breathtaking beauty on the one hand and the ecological reality on the other.
NANOOK OF THE NORTH
Documentary, USA 1922, 79 min., Robert Flaherty
In a kind of cinematic diary, Robert Flaherty presents the life of an Eskimo family over the course of a year. Nanook, his wife and their children are shown going about their daily business, which is strongly influenced by the prevailing seasons: fur trading in the summer, igloo-building and catching fish in the winter. Viewers are given a comprehensive insight into the customs, difficulties and pleasures of a lifestyle that had yet to be touched by civilisation.
This film by Robert Flaherty is a silent classic, and at the same time marked the founding of the documentary film genre. To this day, Flaherty’s intensive description of polar life has lost none of its excitement and fascination.
DAS SCHÖNE ENDE DIESER WELT (The Wonderful End of This World)
Feature film, Germany 1984, 97 min., Rainer Erler,
featuring Robert Atzorn, Claire Oberman, Judy Winter, Götz George
The German chemist Michael Brandt (Robert Atzorn) is supposed to buy land for a multinational group in Australia for the purpose of setting up a branch for the production of a highly toxic pesticide. Although blacklisted in the USA and Europe, the murderous poison generates huge profits in third world countries. Brandt is persuaded by the stewardess Elaine and her brother, the environmentalist Craig (Götz George). He tries to undermine the controversial project in the face of resistance from his ex-wife Ursula (Judy Winter).
KAZA - EIN MEGAPARK FÜR ELEFANTEN (A Megapark for Elephants)
Documentary, Germany 2007, 58 min., Cornelia Volk
They wander until they find water: over many kilometres and, if necessary, to a different place each year. In the last century, elephants were hindered in their wanderings by borders, fences, settlements and/or mined territory almost everywhere in Africa. To help them get back to their old routes, five countries in southern Africa are now setting up a gigantic conservation area: the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, or KAZA for short. Conservation areas in Namibia, Angola, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia are being connected by green corridors to form a megapark. These corridors are designed to enable the elephants, which have become too numerous in Botswana in particular, to access water and grazing land in neighbouring countries unchecked and in peace. Angola, where a bloody civil war raged until 2002 and elephants are now hardly to be found, could then attract tourists with these grey giants. The traditional tribal chiefs on the tip of the Caprivi in Namibia are already making sure that the people are coexisting with the returning wild animals and that they can even profit from them.
ZARTES REH – DELICATE DEER
Germany 1992, 3 min., Claudia Zoller
Deutschland 2005, 3 Min., HFF
Germany 2003, 3 min., H. Ernst
Germany 2007, 9 min., Till Nowak
Germany 2001, 8 min., Wittlinger/ Stenner/ Uebel
Germany 2000, 3 min., Franz Winzentsen
DEMOKRATIE – DEMOCRACY
Germany 2000, 3 min., Strauch/Lewndowski
Germany 2003, 6 min., German Film School
MR. FROG GOES FISHING
Germany 2004, 4 min., Moritz Bunk
Slowakia 2006, 3 min., Richard Kitta
Ireland 2004, 3 min., Melinda S.Padua