Environmental films at the Durban International Film Festival 2013

Submitted by: Jonathan Ramayia, Monday, July 15, 2013

Bees, sharks, crocodiles, oil and gas exploration and deforestation are just some of the themes explored in films with an environmental focus at this year’s Durban International Film Festival (DIFF). The festival kicks off this Thursday, as Durban plays host to Southern Africa’s largest and oldest film festival from the 18-28 July.

A total of seventeen films with environmental themes have showings at this year’s festival. DIFF’s strategic partnership with Durban Wild Talk Africa (DWTA), the continent's most respected Natural History Film Festival and Conference, also taking place in Durban (23-26 July) has resulted in a new sub-category of films being included in the programme this year. In total, fourteen films (including short films) have been chosen for the festival through the strategic partnership with DWTA.

Here are our picks for environmental films showing at the Festival this year:

Bidder 70

Bidder 70, 2012 (Image Source: DIFF)

Just before the end of the George W. Bush administration, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) auctioned large pristine areas of Utah’s treasured national parks for oil and gas exploitation. While environmental groups protested politely, the film focuses on the method of one environmental activist, Tim DeChristopher who in an act of civil disobedience, entered the BLM auction to win 22,000 acres of land for 1.8 million dollars with no intention to pay or drill, putting him at risk of imprisonment.

27 July, 11:30 Blue Waters Hotel

More Than Honey

More Than Honey, 2012 (Image Source:DIFF)

More Than Honey looks at the impacts of our various methods of food production including pesticides, antibiotics and monoculture, on the extinction of bees. DIFF describes the film as “visually captivating, with mesmerising macro cinematography of the bees themselves, high speed cameras burrow, hover and zip around with a vividness that is nothing short of entrancing”. The film is set against the backdrop of recent events where scientists have found that billions of bees have disappeared due to agricultural and other human practices.

23 July 18:00 Ekhaya

26 July 18:00 Suncoast C

28 July 15:30 Ekhaya

The Arctic Giant

The Arctic Giant, 2013 (Image Source: DIFF)

The film tells of the life of Bowhead Whales through a specific whale and the major historical events that have taken place during its more than 200 year lifespan. The Danish-made production spans the French Revolution, to the bloody age of whaling in the 19th century and, the steam ships that followed after the industrial revolution right until the two World Wars and the environmental concerns of today, all conveyed through the life of one whale.

26 July 20:00 Suncoast B

Radioactive Wolves

Radioactive Wolves, 2011 (Image Source: DIFF)

In the mid 1980s, the Ukrainian city of Chernobyl suffered the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history, resulting in the evacuation of 150,000 people. Radioactive Wolves documents that 25 years later, in the contaminated no man’s land near the triangular border between Belarus, Russia and the Ukraine, wolf populations have become among the densest in Europe. The film is an interesting look at how wildlife deal with a habitat once human beings have fled.

24 July 22:00 Sneddon

Including the environmental films, the Festival has 300 screenings at venues around the city as well as surrounding districts including the former township of KwaMashu at the Ekhaya Theatre. Festival goers can expect a combination of feature films, cutting edge documentaries, eight packages of short films and a selection of surf films. Apart from the films, an important component of the festival is the various industry development initiatives including the Talent Campus Durban and Durban FilmMart.

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Jonathan Ramayia