What is Earthnotes?
Earthnotes is an environmental documentary film festival presented by the DLIST online information sharing community. The Earthnotes programme includes both local and international documentaries, many of them award-winning, which take us on a challenging global tour. Since Earthnotes launch in 2007, the interest for the film festival has been increasing.
Why a film festival?
The Earth is changing dramatically. Every day we are reminded of declining fish stocks, polluted air, disappearing forests, rising temperatures, contaminated rivers, and mountains of waste generated every year – the list of environmental problems is endless. The world’s population growth and people’s demanding lifestyles are putting tremendous pressure on the Earth. We can choose to close our eyes and ignore this, or to recognise that we are part of both the problems and the solutions. The film festival is there for all us to open our eyes.
Through a series of striking environmental documentaries, Earthnotes brings you images that carry messages of caution about the state of the Earth, making us think and talk. Images that carry a note of hope for the Earth and that make us act.
Where and When?
Earthnotes kicked-off in 2007 in Cape Town and travelled up along the coast of South Africa and Namibia to a number of towns, where interested DLIST users organised local showings. There was a big effort made in previous years with film screenings in many places. These were done at school and as general public screenings at theatres, universities as well as in communities. The film festival has also travelled with the DLIST team through the Western Indian Ocean and along the coast of East Africa during 2010 and screened films in Hamburg, South Africa, Vilanculos in Mozambique, Kilwa and Wesha in Tanzania, Mombasa in Kenya, Mohéli in Comoros, Ambodiletra and Maroantsetra in Madagascar and in Le Morne in Mauritius.
Tel: +27-21-448 3778 (Cape Town, South Africa)
+27-12-344 3336 (Tshwane, South Africa)
+258 82 0684750 (Maputo, Mozambique)
+255-773-520972 (Stonetown, Zanzibar, Tanzania)
+264 81 25 59570 (Windhoek, Namibia)
Earthnotes gives special attention to the subject of oceans and water (Blue Earth). However, screenings also include documentaries on global issues such as climate change and urbanisation (Global Notes) and African coastal and inland landscapes (African Notes). A list of the films in each section is provided below. You will also find a description of each documentary, by clicking on any of the three section headings. Discussion on the topics featured can be stirred up by a questions and answers session following the screening, and can also continue on the DLIST discussion forum beyond the festival.
This year, Earthnotes pays special attention to oceans and water.
Focusing on rivers, seas and people all around the world, the featured documentaries capture the importance of water and the vulnerability of the life that depends on it. Screenings include films shedding light on the impending global scarcity of water (A World without Water) and showing how some communities have responded in order to gain access to potable water (Water and Autonomy).
Marine issues become ever more important as people increasingly migrate to coastal areas. The challenges associated with over-exploitation of fish stocks are highlighted (Farming the Seas and The World's Large Marine Ecosystems) and extraordinary underwater worlds are explored (Under Antarctic Ice).
A World Without Water
Brian Woods 2006 UK/Bolivia/Tanzania/India/USA 75min
Award-winning filmmaker Brian Woods investigates the future of the world's water and paints a disturbing picture of a planet running out of the most basic of life essentials. A World Without Water tells the story of the dramatic impact of the battle for water ownership on the lives of four disparate groups of people across the developing world and in the heart of the planet's richest nation: families in Bolivia, India, Tanzania and the USA. Beyond the individual human cost of access to water, the film looks at the present and future battle for its ownership and how those living in water-rich countries hold the survival of the planet in their (currently) well-washed hands.
Winner of the Special Prince Rainier III Prize in Monte Carlo and nominated for the Prix Italia, the Grierson Documentary Awards, and the Televisual Bulldog Awards
Find out more about this film at http://www.truevisiontv.com/water.htm
|Farming the Seas
Steve Cowan and Barry Schienberg 2004 USA 55min
In a world running out of ocean fish stocks, fish farms were intended to take the pressure off the oceans and help avert a global food shortage, but many experts now believe that some forms of "fish farming" are actually creating more problems than they're solving. Farming the Seas explores what's at stake for us all. It examines aquaculture's debated environmental, socio-economic, and health and food safety consequences. From the indigenous tribes of British Columbia to the large-scale operations of multinational corporations, from Mediterranean fishermen to Thai shrimp farmers, this documentary gathers perspectives from around the globe as it examines the problems and the promises of this emerging industry.
Best Documentary at Environmental Media Awards, Best Independent Film & Best Marine Conservation Message at International Wildlife Film Festival, Missoula, among other awards.
Water and Autonomy
The Chiapas Media Project/Promedios 2003 Mexico 14 min
Many of the indigenous communities in Chiapas, Mexico, have no access to potable water. Water and Autonomy looks at this serious problem and how the Zapatista communities are solving it. Through solidarity and training from internationals, many communities are now building their own water systems.
Produced by the Chiapas Media Project/Promedios, an award winning, bi-national partnership that provides video equipment, computers and training to marginalized indigenous communities in Southern Mexico, enabling them to create their own media
Find out more about this film and the Chiapas Media Project at http://www.promediosmexico.org/
|The World's Large Marine Ecosystems
Francois Odendaal & Claudio Velásquez 2004 South Africa 18min
A tour through marine and coastal habitats around the globe, The World's Large Marine Ecosystems shows the diversity and fragility of our oceans. This short documentary highlights some of the most pressing environmental and social challenges they face, from depleted fish stocks to pollution and habitat destruction.
This short documentary was commissioned by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and IW: Learn Programme.
Find out more about this film at www.fopfilms.com
Under Antarctic Ice
David Malakoff and Michael Parfit 2003 USA 60min
Filmmaker Norbert Wu and his team travel to McMurdo Station, Antarctica to make the first high-definition film of life hidden under the Antarctic ice. This beautiful film was shot in high definition format over a period of two years by renowned underwater photographer Norbert Wu, who has been exploring the waters beneath the Antarctic ice cap for some time. Throughout Under Antarctic Ice, Wu and his companions find ingenious ways to bring us a world that only a small fraction of humanity will ever witness firsthand.
Gold Plaque at Chicago International Film Festival and Certificate For Creative Excellence at U.S. International Film & Video Festival
Find out more about this film at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/underice/
Some of the most controversial documentaries in Earthnotes shed light on global trends and the imprint we are leaving on Earth.
Screenings cover the much debated issues of climate change and our dependency on fossil fuels (Crude Impact), as well as the less visible? effects that the western world's energy needs are having on developing countries (Source).
Our need to connect with the Earth and preserve our indigenous culture and way of life is explored (The Gathering-Return of the Whale Dreamers and The Land Belongs to Those who Work It) as well as the urgency to protect endangered ecosystems (Temengor: Biodiversity in the Face of Danger). The Future of Food takes us on an investigation into genetically modified foods and associated political and market forces.
With a note of hope, A Convenient Truth: Urban Solutions from Curitiba, Brazil shows that it is possible to do things differently and plan our development in a much more sustainable manner. And, finally, Baraka takes us on a global journey, reminding us of Earth's beauty and fragility.
James Jandak Wood 2006 USA 98min
Crude Impact is a timely story that explores the interconnection between human domination of the planet and the discovery and use of oil. This documentary film exposes our deep rooted dependency on the availability of fossil fuel energy and examines the future implications of peak oil - the point in time when the amount of petroleum worldwide begins a steady, inexorable decline. Journeying from the West African delta region to the heart of the Amazon rainforest, from Washington to Shanghai, from early man to the unknown future, Crude Impact chronicles the collision of our insatiable appetite for oil with the rights and livelihoods of indigenous cultures, other species and the planet itself.
Best Environmental Feature Film at the Artivist Film Festival in Los Angeles, Social Justice Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and numerous nominations
Find out more about this film at www.crudeimpact.com
Martin Marecék 2005 Czech Republic 75min
Baku in Azerbaijan is the site of the world's first oil well. Source traces the pipeline from our commuter highways back to this surreal landscape on which our way of life depends, where cows graze on polluted land and children play in toxic gunge. With three quarters of the population living under the poverty line, the country's post-Soviet government is promising oil will turn Azerbaijan into a 'real country'. But between large oil companies and the corrupt government lining their pockets, what does this mean for the ordinary people of Azerbaijan? Is this 'liquid gold'? more of a curse than a blessing for this troubled country? Source is a documentary film about the social and environmental implications of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline in Azerbaijan.
MDR Award for excellent Eastern European documentary film at the International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film, Golden Award for Best Documentary Film at the Catalonia Environmental Film Festival, and many others.
Find out more about this film at http://www.taskovskifilms.com/films.htm
The Land Belongs to Those Who Work It
TThe Chiapas Media Project/ Promedios 2005 Mexico 15min
Bolon Aja'aw, northern Chiapas. The federal government sold the land to a private company to create an eco-tourism center without the permission of the community members. A tense meeting puts Zapatista leaders against Mexican bureaucrats. This rare footage exposes the battle Third World farmers face in preserving their way of life.
Produced by the Chiapas Media Project/Promedios, an award winning, bi-national partnership that provides video equipment, computers and training to marginalized indigenous communities in Southern Mexico, enabling them to create their own media.
Find out more about this film and the Chiapas Media Project at http://www.promediosmexico.org/
Ron Fricke 1992 USA 104min
Baraka, an ancient Sufi word with forms in many languages, translates as a blessing, or as the breath or essence of life from which the evolutionary process unfolds. A transcendently poetic tour of the globe, Baraka was shot in breathtaking 70mm in 24 countries on six continents. A non-conventional documentary, Baraka was filmed entirely without dialogue in a stunning cascade of crystalline, time-lapse images. Set to the life affirming rhythms of varied religious rituals and nature's own raw bear, Baraka is a visualization of the interconnectedness humans share with the Earth. Spanning such diverse locales as China, Brazil, Kuwait and major U.S. and European sites, Baraka captures not only the harmony, but also the calamity that humans and nature have visited upon the Earth. However, mere words do not do the film justice - Baraka must be seen, felt and experienced to be understood.
Baraka has won the Eddie for Best Edited Documentary and the FIPRESCI Prize for Out-of-Competition at the MontrÃ©al World Film Festival.
The Gathering-Return of the Whale Dreamers
Kim Kindersley 2006 Australia 86min
A universal parable around the power we all have to change the world. The Gathering-Return of the Whale Dreamers is the story of a displaced aboriginal tribe called Mirning and their journey to recover their heritage. Indigenous people from around the world gather here to help the tribe call in the whales. This three-part documentary talks about the stolen generation and land rights.
Best Ecological Documentary at Ibiza Film Festival, Spain.
Find out more about this film at http://whaledreamers.com/
|A Convenient Truth:
Urban Solutions from Curitiba, Brazil
Giovanni Vaz Del Bello 2006
Informative, inspirational documentary aimed at sharing ideas to provoke environment-friendly and cost-effective changes in cities worldwide. The documentary focuses on innovations in transportation, recycling, social benefits including affordable housing, seasonal parks, and the processes that transformed Curitiba into one of the most livable cities in the world. Cities should be a solution, not a problem for human beings. The city of Curitiba has demonstrated for the past 40 years how to transform problems into cost-effective solutions that can be applied in most cities around the world.
Winner of the Bronze Remi Award, Worldfest in Houston.
Temengor: Biodiversity in the face of danger
Harun Rahman 2004 Malaysia 28min
Malaysia's rich ecosystems, including the oldest rain forests on earth, are endangered. In the 1940's, jungle covered three quarters of Peninsular Malaysia. Less than half remains. Despite its immense biodiversity, Temengor is threatened by logging. The Malaysian Nature Society's appeal for Temengor to be gazetted proved futile, although adjacent Royal Belum gained protection in 2003. If deforestation persists, Malaysians will lose a priceless legacy. Is Temengor doomed? Temengor highlights biodiversity's role in ensuring fresh air, clean water and medicines. In their passionate plea, experts explain why Temengor should be saved.
Best documentary Award at the Malaysian Film Festival and Best Videography Award at Oskar
Find out more about this film at http://novista.tv/archives/prodnotes05.html
Marc Francis and Nick Francis 2006 UK 78min
Ethiopia is generally acknowledged as the country that produces the best coffee beans in the world. More than 15 million Ethiopians are financially dependent on coffee production. The coffee trade has just as many transparent factors as obscure ones, which results in constantly fluctuating prices. While the consumption increases and the big coffee traders who have direct ties with governments indisputably make fortunes, the small coffee planters at the bottom of the ladder have to contend with the lowest prices in 30 years. Filmmakers Marc and Nick Francis travelled all over the world to chart the long production line of coffee, from plantation to café. The underlying reason for the detailed analysis in Black Gold is to make the viewer aware of the importance of fair trade. If the coffee-drinking consumer accepts his responsibility, the coffee planter will be better protected.
Find out more about this film at http://www.blackgoldmovie.com
The Future of Food
Deborah Koons Garcia 2004 USA 60min
The Future of Food offers an in-depth investigation into the disturbing truth behind the unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods that have quietly filled U.S. grocery store shelves for the past decade. From the prairies of Saskatchewan, Canada to the fields of Oaxaca, Mexico, this film gives a voice to farmers whose lives and livelihoods have been negatively impacted by this new technology. The health implications, government policies and push towards globalisation are all part of the reason why many people are alarmed by the introduction of genetically altered crops into our food supply. Shot on location in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, The Future of Food examines the complex web of market and political forces that are changing what we eat as huge multinational corporations seek to control the world's food system. The film also explores alternatives to large-scale industrial agriculture, placing organic and sustainable agriculture as real solutions to the farm crisis today.
Find out more about this film at http://www.thefutureoffood.com/
The African Notes films bring us images and sounds from southern Africa. Some documentaries stress the importance of water and the oceans in the context of our continent.
The west coast of South Africa, Namibia and Angola, influenced by the cold Benguela Current (Cape of Storms, Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem and Desert Coast), contrasts sharply with the warm and diverse east coast of South Africa south of Mozambique (Paradise under Pressure).
A Fragile Harmony – the West Coast National Park takes us on a guided tour through this intricate but fragile ecosystem as it looked back in 1991. Knysna: The Embattled Estuary shows us one of the biggest and most biologically productive estuaries on South Africa’s coast in the late eighties.
Issues surrounding energy policies in South Africa and the fate of nuclear waste in Namaqualand are portrayed in Buried in Earthskin. Also from Namaqualand comes the struggle of the Nama people to win their ancestral land back from mining companies (Getting our Land Back).
The documentaries highlight the importance of wetlands for the water cycle and biodiversity conservation (Vanishing Waters) and the concerns around overfishing by foreign fleets (A Hell of Fishing).
The interconnectedness of life in ecosystems (The Elephant, the Emperor and the Butterfly Tree and Tracks) is explored and our desire for wild places reminded (Conversing with Aotearoa/ New Zealand).
The Elephant, the Emperor and the Butterfly Tree
Neil Curry 2004 South Africa 52min
The incredible relationship between different species, all struggling to survive, and how each organism's actions impact the lives of others, is very clearly highlighted in the interactions of the elephant, emperor moth and the mopane tree. Encounter resin bees, body-guard mopane ants and their livestock scale insects, the devil's child (chameleon), wise old giraffes and many other fascinating denizens that the mopane tree supports.
Winner of the Golden Panda Award and Soundtrack Award at Wildscreen, Bristol, and six other 'best of festival'? awards around the world.
|Paradise Under Pressure
Nick Chevalier 1996 South Africa 52 min
Paradise under Pressure takes us to Maputaland, the region between Lake St Lucia in South Africa and Mozambique. The documentary explores the fascinating interplay between the local communities and their incredibly diverse environment. It reveals how the people in Maputaland still follow traditional methods of natural resource use, and highlights the region's fragility in face of existing pressures from agriculture, deforestation, mining and tourism.
Find out more about this film at http://www.chevallierproductions.co.za/
Corrie Francis 2003 USA 2min (animation)
Evening falls on the African landscape and animals prepare for the night ahead. Using fluid sand animation and a unique method of backlit collage, animator Corrie Francis creates a dreamlike vision of an African sunset. The forceful vocals of Cameroonian acapella group Iguewa Ni Mbia flow with the animation to capture the breathtaking mystery of the African savannah.
|A Last Glimpse: Desert Coast
Claudio Velásquez and Francois Odendaal 2003 South Africa 54min
Desert coast portrays the fragile and diverse arid lands that extend from the Orange River to the Namib Desert. This arid landscape contrasts dramatically with the exuberant Benguela that extends its influence at least 80km into the desert. Originally produced for television, this documentary takes us through some of the most extraordinary adaptations of inhabitants of this area to the prevailing harsh conditions. From tiny animal life forms in the sand to local populations that have lived for generations in the desert. From the Topnaar people whose life is closely linked with the Nara plant, to the Richtersveld Namas who were dispossessed and marginalized of their land when diamonds were discovered near the Orange River.
Find out more at www.fopfilms.com
Nick Chevalier 1999 South Africa 26 min
Wetlands are vital for biodiversity conservation, improvement of water quality, reduction of flood damage and provision of natural resources. Yet they are one of the most critically threatened habitat types in South Africa today. Vanishing Waters explores the critical role of wetlands in the country. This documentary travels around several of South Africa's provinces to tell stories about rural and urban wetlands, highlighting the threats they face and the need to protect them.
Find out more about this film at http://www.chevallierproductions.co.za/
|A Last Glimpse: Cape of Storms
Claudio Velásquez 2003 South Africa 54min
Cape of Storms takes us to the Southern tip of Africa. Here two oceans meet on the edge of a land ruled by fire and wind. Originally produced for television, this documentary shows the Cape of Storms as a fragile place - one that can be destroyed by its own beauty should we fail to ensure a sustainable development path. The Cape Peninsula is home to one of the richest floral kingdoms in the world, the fynbos, and surrounded by some of the most unpredictable and stormy seas. The film highlights how the ban on whale hunting has seen the dramatic recovery of the Southern Right Whales and shows striking images of the largest Cape Gannet colony in the world.
BCLME, Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem
Francois Odendaal & Claudio Velásquez 2004 South Africa 20min
Taking us through striking landscapes above and underwater, this short film explains the importance of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME) for the three countries that border this region - South Africa, Namibia and Angola. These three countries have joined hands to improve the management of the living marine resources and the protection of the marine environment.
This short film was commissioned by the BCLME Programme.
Find out more at www.fopfilms.com
| A Hell of Fishing
Vincent Bruno 2006 Belgium 23 min
"Give a man a fish, and he can eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he can eat for the rest of his life." Overfishing of local waters leads Europeans to plunder African seas. Add a dash of free trade, a sprinkle of subsidies, and then inject a dose of fishing trawlers around the world, and you get a hell of fishing on the Dark Continent. This trenchant documentary traces the plundering of Senegalese fishing stocks, unfair trade practices, and the destructive effects of globalisation on Man and environment alike.
Second Place Jury Award at Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films and Public Prize at Limoges Short Film Festival
|Conversing with Aotearoa/ New Zealand
Corrie Francis 2006 New Zealand, USA 15min
We are bound to identify with this film, as Africa is still a continent of wild and remote areas. In an age of technological integration and urban life, people turn to the natural world for a wilderness experience. What draws us to the remote corners of land and sea when we realize something in our lives is missing? Conversing with Aotearoa/New Zealand uses unique visual imagery to take the viewer into the physical and metal wilderness encompassed in the diverse landscapes of New Zealand. In this short animated documentary, New Zealanders attempt to fathom their deep, personal connection with their land.
Best Student Short at Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival and First Prize Multimedia Exposure at Auckland University.
|A Fragile Harmony – The West Coast National Park
Neil Curry 1991 South Africa 55min
Langebaan Lagoon and the bird islands of Saldanha Bay make up the heart of South Africa’s West Coast National Park. A quarter of the world’s Cape Gannets nest here, 25,000 Cape cormorants, 10,000 jackass penguins and 10% of the world’s black oystercatchers. Tens of thousands of waders do the 24,000 km round-trip from northern Europe to spend the southern summer feeding on the rich mudflats. This award-winning film takes you on a guided tour through this intricate but fragile ecosystem: from the stark dune fields with their spectacular fossils dating back 5 million years, to the voracious rock lobsters in the cold plankton-rich Benguela current that sweeps up the west coast of Africa; from the rakish swift-terns nesting on the sandbanks to the delicate courtship dance of cuttlefish in the warm and shallow waters at the head of the lagoon.
Silver Screen award winner at the 1989 US Film & Video Festival.
|Knysna: The embattled Estuary
Neil Curry 1989 South Africa 40min
“Knysna” – the word means magic to many South Africans: holiday time and oysters; misty summer dawns; long, lazy days by the sea. But it’s also the name of one of the biggest and most biologically productive estuaries on South Africa’s coast. This fascinating film is a trip through a complex ecosystem that stretches from the natural forests that blanket the foothills of the Outeniqua Mountain to the Knysna Heads – the estuary’s spectacular gateway to the Indian Ocean. Underwater, strange creatures vie for food; cuttlefish and octopus, the famous pansy shells, the rare Knysna seahorse and the giant mud-crab Scylla serrata. Above water, a whole range of wetland birds add to the rich diversity of life. But people are also an integral part of the life of the estuary. Knysna presents a unique opportunity for us to live alongside nature and become involved in preserving an important part of the Earth’s heritage.
|Buried in Earthskin
Helena Kingwill 2004 South Africa 56min
After attending the Johannesburg W.S.S.D. in 2002, and haunted by a disturbing visual premonition about the earth, a young female journalist (Helena) sets off on a road trip to Namaqualand to see where the nuclear waste is buried. She meets a group of Namakhoi women living near the nuclear dump. While they bake bread in an out door wood fired oven, they discuss the nuclear waste dump and its effect on their lives. In an attempt to understand the government’s decision to invest in nuclear as apposed to renewable energy, Helena visits experts and Nuclear facilities all over South Africa in what becomes a spiritual as well as picturesque physical journey which takes place over two years. The film is meant more as a visual poem than a political statement. It aims to lead the audience to understand the fragility of the Earth as an organism that sustains our lives and the long term responsibility we have for her survival.
This film is a work in progress and has not as yet been released. This edit was completed in 2004.
Feedback appreciated: email@example.com
|Getting our Land Back
Francois Odendaal & Claudio Velásquez Rojas 2003 South Africa 57min
This documentary shows the struggle of the Nama people to win their ancestral land back of which they were dispossessed by diamond mining companies for almost a century.
Find out more at www.fopfilms.com