The early part of environmental filmmaker Sébastien Pins’ childhood was life-defining. Running through grass prairies, swallows overhead, planting bulbs in the garden – seminal experiences that drive the now-adult Pins to his awareness of the glorious magic of nature and the outdoors.
“When I think back to my childhood,” says Pins, “nature was for me an indispensable companion to the man I have become and to the way I look at human commitment and the value of things.” The existence of his inner attachment towards nature is what propelled him to witness and capture the beautiful chaos of nature, but also to share it with others. Thereafter, that creative drive fed off itself and turned into something greater – and led him to film
Having found the proper medium to share his innermost convictions, he began bringing his vision to life. In 2012, he released his first short film My Forest about a young boy whose forest playground is destroyed by a chainsaw. As wonder turns to catastrophe, viewers understand the emotional loss and the violence of the events for the child. In his 2014 film A Passion of Gold and Fire, he dissected the perilous future of a beekeeper’s apiary school, with the environment of course once again central to the storyline. In this film, our human attachment to animals is a strong argument for the preservation of biodiversity as cohabitation is beneficial to mutual survival.
In all his films, in fact, Pins focuses on vivid images and scenarios, but always in a way that makes them relevant to our personal lives. His realistic cinematography and ubiquitous message allow us to imagine how these events could happen in our home setting, and why we should respond to our growing fear. Throughout his work, the firm grasp that Pins has on his subject matter is apparent as his cinematography not only portrays the ugly truth of degradation but also the beauty of life; of flora and fauna, perfectly meshed together in a compelling, viewer-destined call for a different end.
Little wonder then that he is regarded as one of the bright new voices of environmental cinema, internationally.
Pins’ hope – finally – is for us, his viewers, to understand the importance of personal action at a citizen level to preserve the planet just as his protagonists do so in their own lives. Traces, his most recent film and just-announced winner of the Equinox Film Festival’s best cinematography award, is a poignant, real-life inspired example as the film shares how a logger and his horse, by living in harmony with nature, can personally minimize their environmental impact and optimize forest conservation. The conclusion, of course, lets us ponder how we could do the same.
Having just completed the documentary “When the Swallows Fly Away” which highlights the value of intergenerational transmission and the hardships of aging farmers, Pins’ work is now a regular favorite at environmental film festivals.
“It’s beautiful, and unique, and shines a light in stories we would not otherwise have an opportunity to experience,” says Yvette Griffiths, Festival Director at the Equinox Mountain Environmental Film Festival. “This year’s judges were unanimous in their decision. Pins’ cinematography takes us to places we never knew existed, and makes us all the more human for having journeyed there.”
As Pins continues to focus on unique stories – the endings of ways of life, of traditions, and the last pockets of biodiversity and nature – his viewers are compelled towards something more, a personal fight like his, to preserve what must continue.
Abigaël Martel for Times Media Mexico