Magazine article Alternatives Journal

Behind the Green Screen: Planet in Focus Film Festival Provokes Audiences and Creates Space for Discussion

Magazine article Alternatives Journal

Behind the Green Screen: Planet in Focus Film Festival Provokes Audiences and Creates Space for Discussion

Article excerpt

THE AROMA of roasting fair-trade coffee counters November's early morning chill, while devoted volunteers put finishing touches to their information booths. A happy hum mingles with an air of expectancy as patrons line up for the film festival's annual community brunch. Plates piled high with organic hempseed and spelt flour pancakes await fresh kiwi and strawberry slices.

So begins Saturday at the seventh annual Planet in Focus International Environmental Film and Video Festival (PIF). Held in various venues in downtown Toronto, and spanning five days of November, the festival showcases over 80 films, picked from 350 submissions.

Documentary filmmaker, writer and environmentalist Mark Haslam founded PIF as a one-day film screening in 1999. Since then, it has grown into a complete event, with year-round programming, climbing numbers and international acclaim. The popularity of the festival among environmentalists and film lovers alike attests to the breadth of the issues and the quality of the films.

This year's Spotlight series on Toronto, for example, attracted environmentalists, urbanists, historians and cinephiles. Festival director Candida Paltiel explains, "We are not a marginal festival. We attract a mainstream film audience. The films are mainstream in style, but are still able to tell a good story that engenders change and action."

The festival's success is indicative of the rising acceptance of environmental awareness in mainstream thought. According to Paltiel, "The festival transcends class, gender and other boundaries because of its broad definition of environment." Dan Sokolowski's short Land of the Pines is an animated, poetic meditation. A Fallen Maple by Sean Copeland and Kelly Berry outlines big problems in the Ontario Maple syrup industry. Martin Maracek's Zdroj (Source) exposes the true costs of the oil economy in the Czech Republic. …

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