Bozcaada to host maiden ecological documentary festival
BIFED will feature national and international premieres with participants from 22 countries. There will also be panels on grapes and viticulture, olives, documentary and sound workshops, as well as a photo exhibition. (Picture from the movie 'My Name is Salt')Bozcaada, a beautiful unspoiled island off the Aegean coast, mentioned in both the Iliad and Aeneid, is getting ready to host the first Bozcaada International Festival of Ecological Documentaries (BIFED) between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2.
BIFED will be the only international film festival in Turkey to exclusively include in its program documentaries on ecology, festival director Petra Holzer Özgüven told the Hürriyet Daily News.
The local government and the people of the island are all part of the festival, which sets out to draw attention to threats against the world’s ecosystems such as those caused by global warming and pollution, Holzer Özgüven said.
“An ecological documentary film festival was an idea that had been stirring for a long time. To bring it to life, we needed local government and a community that would not only support such a festival but embrace it,” she added.
However, the festival got more than it had bargained for, with Bozcaada Mayor Hakan Can Yılmaz becoming its official president.
“Mayor Yılmaz was so encouraging that the decision to hold the festival was taken in his office. Such an ambitious project is not feasible without the support of the local government, local NGOs and the local people themselves,” Holzer Özgüven said.
BIFED will feature national and international premieres with participants from 22 countries. There will also be panels on grapes and viticulture, olives, documentary and sound workshops, as well as a photo exhibition.
The Children’s Films section hopes to introduce young viewers to documentary films and create awareness on the environment, and is organized in memory of Anke Atamer, a resident of the island who passed away last August and who was closely involved in work with children, the youth and the environment.
‘Very much like a women’s festival’
“One of the world premieres is Margaret Bong’s documentary “Weight of Salt” [Malasya] about a family of traditional salt makers and the impact of a new road connecting them to ‘civilization.’ Another beautiful film which has received an impressive worldwide festival reception is Farida Pacha’s documentary ‘My Name is Salt,’ which portrays a salt maker family’s nomadic life by a salt lake in India. We were lucky to have such a rich and wonderful pool of documentaries to choose from,” added Holzer Özgüven.
Canadian documentary “Hands on: Women and Climate Change,” which was directed by five different individuals, will make its international premiere at BIFED, and the festival director suggested that it would “very much be a “women’s festival.”
“A significant number of directors of the films in the festival are female directors. This is not a common picture. It is the same with the jury, which has five women and three men,” said Holzer Özgüven.
Included in the jury are acclaimed Turkish director Yeşim Ustaoğlu, Republican People’s Party (CHP) Environment Chair Şafak Pavey, and award-winning Belgian documentary maker Nathalie Borgers.
Holzer Özgüven said Bozcaada, an untouched idyll in the Aegean Sea, was an “ideal place” to hold such an ecological festival.
“The most important problem our world is facing today and tomorrow is the destruction of its ecosystem. Bozcaada is one of the few very well-protected micro-ecosystems. But it’s under a great
danger with the recent construction permit targeting olive plantation areas. Bozcaada is the ideal geography for such a festival that is hoping to contribute in facing and fighting such threats,”
Fitting this spirit, the festival is work of collaboration, with many becoming part of the organization as volunteers.
Activists, artists, filmmakers, and those who have come to call the island their home have all contributed to the making of such a precious festival.
“Well-known names came together with the unknown, and everyone chipped in to turn this festival from a dream into reality,” said Holzer Özgüven.
Check www.bifed.org for more details.