Earth’s Choice Award

ONI, Republic of Light, Mercedes Aldao, Laura Trejo, Christen Minnick (MEX) 60 min.

We are the Earth, not separate beings looking upon an alien planet. We are wild; we are interconnected; we are expansive. This film celebrates all facets of existence, eloquently illustrating that the birth and death process of the Earth are part of each of our journey. ONI is a psycho-magic documentary film, focused on the deep relationship among Sacred Plants, indigenous healing rituals and Universal Consciousness. Through the magic of dreams and visions, we embark on a journey into the jungle of the collective psyche. Deep in the Peruvian Amazon, a young Shipibo healer is initiated by the spirit of a mysterious plant alchemy known as Ayahuasca. Rather than using logic to explain an experiential phenomenon, ONI offers an emotional experience of universal consciousness through a colorful and poetic audio-visual immersion. Five years ago, the all-female film collective Republic of Light embarked on a journey to listen to the messages of the Earth and to allow their creation to arise organically. The film itself was a ceremonial process, made with permission from the plant medicine and the shamans who are its guardians. In this way, ONI serves as an example of a collaborative creation with the Earth and of the transformational power of listening. The filmmakers maintained minimal impact on the planet while working from a converted school bus as the home and base for production. They left only prayers and gratitude to the people and the planet. ONI will serve as a guide to us all on how film can be elevated to the place of healing and ceremony.

The Activist Award

Poisoning Paradise, directed by Keely Shaye Brosnan (USA) 75 min.

Acclaimed environmental documentary filmmaker Keely Shaye Brosnan with her film Poisoning Paradise is the recipient of the 2018 “Activist Award” for masterfully drawing the connection between public health, pesticide spraying and the power of corporations over governments. The Hawaiian climate allows giant corporations to test their genetically engineered seed corn and pesticides, spraying them upwind of homes, schools, hospitals, and pristine shoreline. Discover what is at stake for Hawaii from local activists, scientific experts and healthcare professionals as they expose the effects of environmental injustice on a local population. The urgency of this message is great: it is all of our responsibilities to know the impacts created by the food we eat and the companies behind the curtain pulling the threads of the delicate web of our shared ecology.  Join the people’s movement to hold corporations and governments accountable for poisoning planet Earth, the health of the planet is the health of us all.

The New Paradigm Award

Redefining Prosperity: Gold Rushes of Nevada City, directed by John de Graaf (USA) 57 min.

All to often in the environmental movement we focus on what is not working, rather than what is working. Through his film Redefining Prosperity and his work with the “And Beauty for All” campaign John De Graff is celebrating local movements to preserve natural beauty and nourish health community. Beyond politics and ideology, we all long for beauty.  A new ‘Gold Rush’ in Nevada City seeks to heal wounds created by centuries of resource exploitation and destruction to land and indigenous communities. Through an effort to save the beloved Yuba river, the community restores unity and collaboration to their small town.  The health of the individual and community is intricately tied to the health of the land. Nevada City now sees its natural spaces as valuable not for resource extraction but for their beauty, and serenity.

Best Cinematography

Timbo, directed by Peiman Zekavat (UK) 9 min.

For the cinematographer the goal is to capture stunning imagery; color, composition and framing. Timbo is a series of artistic imagery where each frame could stand on its as a masterpiece in photography. Timbo highlights the threat posed by energy companies keen to dam the world largest river. If built, the dams would flood an area the size of London, Paris and Amsterdam combined. The flood would cause a large amount of toxic plants to dissolve in the water, leading to severe poisoning or even death among the indigenous tribes. These plants are locally known as Timbó. Created in an immersive way, the audience is drawn into into the stunning sensations of tribal life in the Amazon. Link to trailer: Here.

Best Editing

Charged, directed by Phillip Baribeau, edited by Tony Hale, produced by Dennis Aig (USA) 86 min.

Spanning several years and continually evolving, Charged is a film that on the onset had no clear ending. It was through careful direction and trusting production that once the editor, Tony Hale, had his hands on, what for some might be too much footage, was the story of Eduardo Garcia coaxed out of the ether. Rare is the film that is able to resonate with an audience so universally. The utterly inspiring story of Eduardo Garcia is one of those films that takes a tragedy and turns it to beauty that serves as inspiration to us all. Charged reminds us to greet uncertainty, change and turmoil of life, with resilience. A successful chef and adventurer, Eduardo Garcia’s life was forever changed after an encounter with 2,400 volts of electricity while hiking in the backcountry of Montana.  A love story unlike any other, Charged is about both physical recovery and life fully realized. Through the years of footage both professional and deeply personal, shot by Eduardo’s life partner and friend, Jennifer Jane, that a message beyond tradition is offered, complex and nuanced as life is for us all.

Best Sound

ALMA -Art, Legacy and the Environment, directed by Victor Hugo Espejo (ESP) 14 min.

Even in a studio, quality sound can be a challenge. Outdoor recording can be incredibly unpredictable. However, ALMA- Art, Legacy, and the Environment delivers masterful sound as it captures musicians interacting with a natural landscape. In its whole, this film is an expression of creative reciprocity with our planet. Alma tracks the journey of a group of sensitive musicians as they journey to a 12th century monastery in a remote region of Galicia, Spain to be part of a music and nature residency. They listen deeply and from that knowing, they create. We see how nature serves as the muse and the instrument. A film that is a clear expression of using art as a way of showcasing the importance of reestablishing communication and flow with our natural surroundings.

Best Documentary Short

Standing Rock Take Me From The River, directed by Denny Rauen (USA) 30min.

This revealing film challenges all of us to reassess our role in the exploitation of the planet and indigenous people. Learn how even in 2016, the U.S. government broke treaties with indigenous people. The Standing Rock Sioux through hundreds of years of oppression by an invading culture are steadfast in prayer for the planet and all of its people. A personal and intimate look at the internationally renowned conflict at Standing Rock and winner of Best Documentary Short. Link to trailer: Here.

Best Narrative Short

The Exhale, directed by Mohmmad Hormozi (IRN) 24 min.

An inescapable reality of living on Earth is death. Hormozi’s approach isn’t to demystify or soften the realities of death but simply show how life and death exist side by side. In a field of the fathers childhood, his son must break the news that his father has leukemia. Long, steady and well-composed shots produce a very clear artistic voice, leaving space for the audience and characters to reflect on the ramifications of the narrative.   Link to trailer: Here.

Best Virtual Reality

A Yosemite Welcome…, directed by Kevin Pontuti (USA) 10 min.

If your answer to the question, “what historical figure would you like to meet?” is John Muir, here is your opportunity to do just that. Watch as he tells a story in his favorite environment, Yosemite National Park and imparts wisdom on a life lived in love with nature. The mountains are calling, and WE must go.

Best Animation

Au Revoir Balthazar, directed by Rafael Sommerhalder (CHE) 10 min.  

An endearing animation that eloquently expresses love of our natural world and the gift of our senses to experience it. A scarecrow is introduced to the sound of the sea and will follow his heart to the end of the Earth to witness the dramatic presence of the Ocean.

Best Experimental

165708, directed by Josephine Massarella (CAN) 7 min.

Shot entirely in 16mm black and white film using single frame photography, 165708 employs in-camera techniques and chemical manipulation of processed film to produce an eidetic study of temporal elasticity. Exploring the capacity of the medium to express various notions of time, the film begins with a woman looking out from the shoreline. This acts as a point of departure to disparate yet interconnected sequences which prompt the viewer to engage in a structurally unique mode of inquiry and experience. Employing an individual experience to this artist journey.