World In Action

Thom Dibdin previews the Edinburgh Environment Film


Film may not be the most environment- friendly ofthe ans, but the Filmhouse is doing its best to make amends during the second Edinburgh Environment Film Festival which starts on Saturday IS May. Twenty-nine films have been programmed during the nine-day event in a mix which is nothing if not eclectic. and which includes such diverse themes as the automobile. representations of environmental issues in science fiction. modem man in the wildemess and native people in their own lands.

‘We have tried to avoid a solemn and doom-laden approach.‘ says Filmhouse Director Jim Hickey, pointing to the inclusion of such humorous delights as Meet The Applegates and Frogs. ‘The intention is to explore and emphasise the wide range of films dealing directly or obliquely with environmental issues and for the films to be entertaining and thought-provoking.’

ldiosyncratically. this means that Hollywood's early 90s flirtations with

environmental issues are represented by Terminator 2, certainly the most expensive film ever made. and with its pyrotechnic special effects, arguably one of the least environment-friendly. However, as the Festival organisers point out. it reflects contemporary concerns with the mortality of the planet in the face of our own recklessness a common theme in much science fiction, including the convincingly realised future world of Blade Runner and the bitter-sweet tragedy of Silent Running.

A celebration of the Earth itself is evident in films such as Yellow Earth and The Big Blue in which the terrain and the sea become as central to the

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For All Mind movies as any of the actors. Baraka, which receives its European premiere as the Festival’s closing film, takes this placing of the environment at the centre of the film to its logical conclusion. Using neither actors nor dialogue, it was shot in 24 countries by Ron Fricke, who was cinematographer on Koyaanisqatsi (which also gets a screening) and is billed as an inspirational celebration of the planet.

For All Mankind. one of the most visually stunning films ofthe Festival, usesjust a few ofthe six million feet of film shot during the Apollo missions to look back at the Earth from space. However. while it provides an optimistic outlook for the future. the

uncomfortable truth revealed in several of the films is that mankind has been brutal in his treatment of the planet. The documentary Earth and the American Dream, which receives its European premiere on the opening night. shocks the audience into confronting just such brutality using a powerful onslaught of words and images.

Clearcut uses fiction to explore the hot political issues of logging the nonhem Canadian wilderness and Native American land claims. Controversially, this thriller also addresses the debate between pacifism and aggression in the face of wanton environmental destruction. The treatment of native peoples, their interaction with Western society and the effect of their societies on individual westerners are also common themes in three very different films: The Last of His Tribe. Black Robe and Walkabout.

‘These films prove that the cinema is the ideal medium for displaying the natural world to a wider audience.’ says Jim Hickey. Imagine watching the beauty of the Central Mongolian plains as depicted in Urga on the television and you‘ll agree when he says the ‘einema can put a torrent of images and sounds before us with an impact unrivalled by anything else‘.

The Second Edinburgh Environmental Film Festival runs at the Edinburgh

F ilmhouse front Sat 15-Sun 23 May.

F ilmhouse are offering the purchaser of tickets to any three films in the Festival a free ticket to a fourth film of their choice.


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