Last week, filmmakers and enthusiasts travelled all the way from Australia and the United States to participate in the Arctic Film Festival that was held in Longyearbyen, Svalbard. HF Productions (with offices in New York, Copenhagen, Athens & Jakarta) ran the event for the first time with SOCENT CPH with the overarching theme, Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Co-Organizer Benn Wiebe states, “we brought the Arctic Film Festival to Svalbard, because people need to be challenged in the most direct way and what better place to be than at the frontier of our planet, where the world is witnessing the most direct affects of climate change. Awareness is a stepping-stone, one of our goals is to encourage filmmakers to be action drivers and that is why we decided to host the festival here”. Prior to the film screenings, a roundtable discussion was moderated by Wiebe. The discussion was a deep dive into how filmmakers identify SDGs and social impact elements in their narratives. Eventually the roundtable turned into how the individual filmmakers had pushed beyond making a film and used their project as a call to action, to champion their viewers to engage with the process told through their narratives
The prime example came in the form of Eskimo Inc. (winner of Best Short Documentary) directed by Max Baring, where they are currently battling the US administration on legislation regarding oil drilling. Other winners of the event were Salvage (Best Feature Documentary) directed by Amy Elliott, Amaro (Best Drama) directed by Fabian Fritz, Realms (Best Cinematography) directed by Patrik Söderlund, and Rear View Mirror (Special Mention) directed by Jonathan May.
The winner of the Best SDG Production went to Director Rick Grehan for ZAN, a documentary about the last Okinawan Dugong in Japan, fighting to protect their bio-diverse heritage.
After the screenings all the filmmakers (and some guests) participated in activities that were organized by HF Productions. A guided tour around the region helped educate the filmmakers on the history of Svalbard and the affects of the melting glaciers. The trip culminated with a visit to Pyramiden (an abandoned Soviet coal-settlement) and the ice-shelf itself.
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