Zürich Film Festival 2019: Films about nature and conservation

The 15th Zürich Film Festival kicks off tomorrow, from 26 September until 6 October 2019. Among the many features are a few not-to-be-missed films that have a nature and conservation theme. Excerpts are taken from the ZFF website.

Amazona by Clare Weiskopf

For quite some time, Clare has longed to make a film about her mother Val. But how is one to capture a freedom-loving nomad who has often gone her own way without her husbands or children? Clare likes to reminisce about her unusual childhood, which took her and her siblings from the rainforest of Colombia to a hippie commune in England. But some of the decisions made by her unconventional and intriguing mother have left deep wounds and unanswered questions for Clare. Now that she’s expecting a child herself, Clare, equipped with a camera, sets off to find the lonely “Amazon”. In the award-winning essay film AMAZONA, we get to know an extraordinary woman who not only challenges conventional ways of life, but questions the conventions of motherhood itself.

Sanctuary by Álvaro Longoria

“This is not a place for men, but a place to be studied, documented, protected.” The Antarctic is melting, and with it the time left to protect the still largely untouched habitat and its biodiversity, before it is too late. Star actors Javier and Carlos Bardem get involved and embark on an ambitious project, together with numerous scientists, to work towards the establishment of the world’s largest marine protected area in the Weddel Sea. The documentary SANCTUARY accompanies the group on their journey to these unique shallows of the sea. Between colourful corals and cathedrals made of ice, we learn how science can put pressure on politicians, and how each and every one of us can make a difference.

Watson by Lesley Chilcott

As a young man, environmental activist Paul Watson was forced to watch as a living whale was killed right before his very eyes, an event that shook him deeply and conjured a wrath. Ever since, Watson has been radically dedicated to the ocean’s wildlife. With his controversial yet efficient methods, the former Greenpeace co-founder, now a media-savvy captain and pirate of the Sea Shepherd organisation, is forcing whalers and fish poachers to retreat. WATSON not only tells the life story of one of the most important faces of the global environmental protection movement, but also uses Watson’s extensive video archive, personal anecdotes, and captivatingly beautiful underwater footage to take us into the world of vast oceans and their endangered biodiversity. A world worth fighting for.

Sakawa by Ben Asamoah

Their workplace is a shabby living room. Western electronic waste found at dumping sites in Ghana as well as the naivety of desperate singles in Europe and America are their resources. For these young Internet fraudsters portrayed in SAKAWA, it is easy to access data and images left on negligently disposed smartphones and hard disks. They use fake profiles to search for “clients” and, with a few seductive tricks and a little
bit of voodoo magic they tease money from their pockets – nonetheless they remain unwealthy. Belgian-Ghanaian director Ben Asamoah offers access to a world otherwise hidden behind the subject lines of countless unopened spam emails. Without judgment, Asamoah follows the unusual and questionable work routine of young Ghanaians who have nothing to lose. An amusing yet deeply sobering insight into the absurdity of global injustice.

Bruno Manser – Die Stimme des Regenwaldes by Niklaus Hilber

In search of an experience beyond the superficiality of modern civilisation, Bruno Manser travels to the jungles of Borneo in 1984 – and finds his fulfilment with the indigenous population of the Penan. It is an encounter that changes his life forever. Living in harmony with nature, Manser learns much more from the Penan than just how to survive in the rainforest. The future of the indigenous people, however, resides under a dark star, as excavators and chainsaws are drawing closer every day. Manser decides to lead the Penan in the fight against the wood lobby. Based on the true story of Swiss environmental activist Bruno Manser, director Niklaus Hilber tells the story of a driven person who was willing to put everything on the line in a film shot on location in Borneo.

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