September 15, 2021.- Since time immemorial, festivals have provided the occasions for cultural exchanges and celebrations; for harmonious relations among people to grow. As the pandemic entered our lives, however, society has felt this absence greatly. Now, as communities inch forward towards reconnecting, a number of notable festivals are restarting. This month, the Equinox Mountain Environmental Film Festival is returning for its second year, with a new hybrid viewing experience for these unusual times.
Previously hosted near the lush mountains of Manchester, Vermont, this year Equinox is set to screen its three-day exploration of environmentally based short films all online, with a twist – that you get to organize your own mini-festival wherever you are.
Where once festivals would involve large gatherings of people, during the pandemic there was the transition to an entirely online presence. This year the EMEFF is encouraging a mix of the two by having viewers organize small, safe gatherings of friends or family wherever they happen to be, and then connecting to the film festival online as a community. In doing so, this festival begins the emergence of scores of small viewing parties where everything needed to watch, participate and vote for favorite films is provided.
The primary purpose of hosting a watch party among a small group of close acquaintances is to foster conversations that build community, and further awareness about environmental issues. Given our global context, it’s now more important than ever to have a space that promotes understanding, reflects on underlying problems, and opens up communication to possibilities and potential futures. Party watchers can also debate to decide which films are their favorite, as each group will get to vote for their top three favorite films in the People’s Choice category.
Individually, every film showcases a distinctive message which stems from a variety of personal standpoints. Some features may allure viewers to re-think modern methods of civilization, while others may spark an appreciation for something new. Films will be coming from around the world, places like the USA, India, Australia, Switzerland, Scotland, Bolivia, and a handful of other nations.
One particular highlight is expected to be Community Through Crisis, a feature film from Vermont, USA, which opens the festival and dives right into a local story, and the mission this Vermont community took on when their environment was met with the challenges of Covid-19. “We’re producing masks so we can make a meaningful difference out there in a time of serious shortage,” says Sam Hooper of Vermont Glove. In another segment, Michael Cyr, of The Skinny Pancake in Vermont adds, “The one thing we do really know about our future is that we aren’t sure what it’s going to look like.” This feature not only represents the kindness and participation happening in many communities, it highlights common concerns seen throughout a multitude of perspectives.
The compilation of films, each no longer than fifteen minutes, have been shortlisted from over one-hundred submissions. To get this far, the message each film-maker portrayed in their short-film, as well as the quality of the cinematography, was taken into consideration.
Winners will be announced on the evening of Sunday, September 19th for awards such as Best Cinematography, Best Foreign Language Film, and Best Animation.
This vigorous grassroots effort that began with the intention of sharing narratives about the environment, and in it humanity’s role, has created the space to investigate, re-imagine, and uncover common ecological concerns among us. Additionally, the Equinox experience has opened up conversations on these complex issues.
Anyone can sign up now to watch the assortment of films, for free, over the course of the three days beginning on Friday, September 17th.
It is important to recognize that the finalists come from a melting pot of different nationalities, and each has a set of genuine talents to contribute to the world. Many film-makers are native English speakers, therefore the majority of the films will be in English. There are, however, a handful which will not be, and for those, English subtitles are provided.
Since filmmakers and audiences can not yet reunite in the same ways they did in 2019, Equinox Film Fest is also providing a way for groups of people to come together by arranging scheduled workshops, such as Zero-Waste Living and Environment in Hollywood for filmmakers.
One community filmmaker, also a judge this year, Graeme Roger of Wildbird Moray, stresses the important role which environmental film can play in society today, suggesting that, “As the world is all being pulled apart, environmental films can highlight local situations and contexts in order to put the world back in place.”
More than ever before, the sharing of stories and cultures runs in deep correlation with individual and environmental health. Healing the communities we inhabit, through social gatherings and exchanges, brings unmeasurable benefits to all involved as it is linked with feelings of belonging and security.
The Equinox Film Festival will be an experience that is sure to present numerous international viewpoints across a range of themes. This is one web-enabled event you will not want to miss!
Kalee Lamp Sparr for Times Media Mexico
The Yucatan Times
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