The South African Eco Film Festival (SAEFF) will bring the world’s best documentary films with environmental themes to South African audiences from the 26th of March to the 2nd of April.
“We’ve branched out,” says Andreas Wilson-Späth of While You Were Sleeping, the non profit organisation behind the event. “After last year’s enthusiastic reception of the Cape Town Eco Film Festival, we’ve gone nation-wide, sprouting offshoots in three additional venues around the country. Our mission remains the same: to raise awareness about the many pressing environmental issues the planet is facing through the amazing medium of documentary film. We’ve put together a world-class selection of films that both entertain and educate.”
In an exciting development, MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet, one of South Africa’s biggest community fundraising programmes, has come on board as the festival’s headline sponsor. “For the past 18 years MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet has been working with schools and charities, helping to raise funds for education and social development. By partnering with the SAEFF we aim to create additional platforms through which to encourage community engagement on crucial issues and also to inspire parents and children to become active citizens,” says Helène Brand, Marketing Manager for MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet.
How can parents get their kids away from electronic screens and into nature? What are the thousands of industrial chemicals we are constantly surrounded by doing to our bodies? Will sharks survive humanity’s seemingly insatiable hunger for shark fin soup? These are just some of the questions the films in this year’s festival line-up ask and try to answer.
The SAEFF is delighted to welcome our special International Festival guest, conservationist Stefanie Brendl. Stef was producer of Extinction Soup, a highly acclaimed documentary film which supports her fight to educate lawmakers and legislators both in the US and around the World to help create and pass groundbreaking legislation aiming to curb the wholesale slaughter of sharks for their fins and the consumption of shark fin soup. Stef is a passionate and colourful character, an environmentalist, adventurer and conservationist. The SAEFF looks forward to her contribution to the Festival.
The programme includes more than 25 beautifully shot, thought-provoking short and feature-length documentaries – 12 of which have never been seen in South Africa before. Members of the audience will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite film, which will be decorated with the Silver Tree Audience Choice Award.
“We think that documentary films are an excellent way of learning about environmental issues, but unfortunately, they tend to be rather neglected on the mainstream cinema circuit,” notes While You Were Sleeping’s Dougie Dudgeon. “This year’s festival includes a number of South African productions and we want to share these magnificent and important films with as many people as possible. We are also proud to announce that this year’s festival will be hosted at four intimate and independent venues around SA: The Bioscope Independent Cinema in Johannesburg, the Asbos Teater in Pretoria, Khula Dhamma Retreat Centre & Ecological Farm near East London and, of course, the Labia Theatre in Cape Town which remains our spiritual home.”
For Cape Town and Eastern Cape audiences, the Eco Kids Film Initiative (EKFI) is an exciting new addition to the festival programme, featuring films made for – and in some cases even by – children.
“In order to nurture a social culture that is responsive to youth’s environmental concerns we need to ensure that children are aware of the relevant environmental issues and have a vehicle through which to voice their concerns in a creative and empowering manner. I believe this vehicle should be film”, explains EKFI director Tarien Roux.
Each EKFI screening is made up of a careful selection of short films which will be followed by a dynamic group discussion. This year the screenings will be aimed at children aged 3 to 6, 7 to 11 and 12 to 17. The selected films include a mix of documentary and narrative type films, both live-action and animated.
The 2015 South African Eco Film Festival runs from Thursday the 26th of March until Thursday the 2nd of April. Tickets for the Cape Town, Pretoria and Johannesburg screenings cost R45. For each ticket sold, R5 will be donated to Greenpop, the Cape Town based tree-planting organisation.
- See full programme of the films on show here.