The 12th Environmental Film Festival a welcome change of scenery

A scene from the documentary That's Wild. Picture: Supplied
A scene from the documentary That's Wild. Picture: Supplied

With lockdown keeping most people in their homes most of the time, a big change of scenery would be welcome. The 12th Environmental Film Festival Australia (EFFA) will transport viewers to places around the world for a month, with films screening online from October 14.

Like last year, the program will be presented online because of the pandemic.

Festival co-director Freyja Gillard says the volunteer-run festival has 14 feature-length films - nine documentaries and five narrative films - and, in packages, 39 shorts.

She says the theme this year is "the idea of taking a journey", with the films inviting viewers to find different ways of connecting with the world and experience other cultures and places.

"They're framing the relationship between humans and the environment, challenging the way we think about the natural world," she says.

People can buy tickets to individual films, selections or season tickets. The shorts are in two packages so viewers can watch one or both.

The opening night film, The Weather Diaries, is an Australian documentary directed by Kathy Drayton in which she looks at the world in which her musician daughter Imogen is growing up in, exploring the personal, political and environmental effects of what's happening.

There will also be a performance on the night by Imogen, who performs under the name Lupa J.

Another film focusing on youth and climate change will be screened free. Rob Innes' Youth On Strike looks at the School Strike 4 Climate movement in March 2019 in which more than 150,000 students in Australia alone demanded climate action, despite being patronised and dismissed by some as "cute".

Innes used vlog footage shot by those involved.

"There are two versions of it. One is a series - this is the feature version of it."

A scene from The Trouble With Nature. Picture: Supplied

A scene from The Trouble With Nature. Picture: Supplied

A much older climate activist is the subject of Citizen Nobel. Stephane Goel's Swiss film follows 78-year-old Jacques Dubochet, one of the recipients of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, who uses his suddenly raised profile to support the climate movement.

Gillard says it is an inspirational film about a man who decided he could be a force for good.

While climate change is obviously a major and important focus of the festival, that doesn't mean it's always the central point or even dealt with directly in the films.

"It's not all we do," Gillard says. There are many other stories to tell.

The American documentary That's Wild, directed by Michiel Thomas, focuses on three underprivileged Atlanta teenagers who take part in the Wilderness Works program, which culminates in a challenging trip to the mountains of Colorado.

"It's about the unique healing power of the outdoors."

Going from the country to the urban environment, Adan Aliaga and Alex Lora's documentary The Fourth Kingdom documents the lives of a group of illegal immigrants who work in a recycling centre in New York.

"It's probably one of the most beautiful films."

One of the feature films is The Trouble With Nature, a Danish-French production directed by Illum Jacobi. In 1769, philosopher Edmund Burke (played by Antony Langdon) embarks on a tour of the Alps seeking enlightenment and inspiration.

"It's a film for fans of The Favourite," Gillard says.

"There's a lot of absurdism, it's off-kilter and comical."

Gillard also likes the shorts packages, which include Protest & Protection and Elders & the Earth, highlighting the voices of First Nations people from several countries and cultures.

For all these and more, visit effa.org.au.

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