What a stellar launch: the second Environmental Film Festival of Accra will begin with an event for schoolkids, in which they'll view the March 29 total solar eclipse in Ghana's capital. And over the course of the eight-day festival, which officially starts March 30, nearly 40 films from more than 20 countries will be shown in venues ranging from Ghana's National Film and Television Institute to an outdoor park. The schedule includes features, documentaries, animation and shorts, and presentations by filmmakers, conservationists and environmentalists.
Founded last year, it's Africa's first such event, and it's sponsored and supported by the Dutch, French and U.S. embassies, global corporations like Nestlé and environmental groups like the Ghana Wildlife Society. Last year around 1,000 attended, including Kofi Agbogah, a scientist from Ghana's Water Research Institute: "The great thing about the festival was that people saw [the movies] on the screen and immediately understood the politics and complexity of the issues. [an error occurred while processing this directive]It was really worthwhile a lot of people said so even people who are not environmentalists." That's because the films, although addressing issues as apparently lacking in screen appeal as recycling and corporate ethics, are often gripping dramas.
Movies slated for screening include Safi, La Petite Mère, directed by Burkina Faso's Raso Ganemtore, in which an 8-year-old rescues her newborn brother from infanticide and escapes to the city, and Petite Lumière by Senegalese director Alain Gomis, about a child's attempts to understand the world ("When I shut my eyes, are people still there?"). The festival will open with Anita Roddick: Mrs. Body Shop, a documentary by German filmmaker Thomas Weidenbach that focuses on Roddick's work in Ghana to establish a women's shea butter co-operative.
Says Yidana Ibrahim, a Ghanaian filmmaker whose documentary on water issues, In Your Hands, screened last year: "This festival will encourage more young Ghanaian filmmakers to make environmental films. This festival could really have an impact." And once the schoolkids take off their eclipse-viewing glasses, it surely will. www.effaccra.org