The Patagonian Ecological Film Festival (PEFF) was born in 2016 and is based in the city of Puerto Madryn. In 2020, the pandemic confronted the organizers with the dilemma that the entire cultural field suffered: they had to choose between suspending the edition or mutating to virtuality. “We opted for this format and the truth surprised us because we reached unimaginable corners of the world. They sent us cataracts of messages from everywhere and we went from having 4,000 people in person to 22,000. Actually, 22 thousand screens because we don’t know exactly how many people were behind it”, explains Alejandra Scigliano, one of the producers.
This year the event returns to pre-pandemic attendance but without neglecting the hybrid format, which is definitely here to stay. Spectators will be able to attend the screenings in the province of Chubut –with free admission– but they will also be able to access the virtual offer from any point of the globe through the web. The festival will take place from September 1 to 5, with screenings and numerous activities associated with environmental issues.
The PEFF proposes a “integrative, critical and optimistic look” about the relationship of the human species with nature and the care of the planet. Scigliano explains that these three conditions are the ones that the selected productions meet, and points out: “The look is inclusive because we contemplate all the edges and problems, we want everyone to be able to come to participate, we are a festival that was born freely and free of charge and we integrate all disciplines of audiovisual art. Critical because you can’t help but be critical of a problem like the one facing the planet. And optimistic because the festival aims to find a solution together”.
In 2022 there will be two new sections: “Women” and “Oceans”. The latter produce up to 85% of the oxygen that is released annually, concentrate 80% of biodiversity and constitute the largest ecosystem. Regarding the other section, Scigliano recalls that the winning film in the first edition was starring a woman and there were already numerous productions created by female artists. “There is always a strong presence and the audiovisual industry is a bit complicated for the female sex. Last year this section began timidly presenting some productions out of competition. We saw that it was the right path and we decided to put them in competition: there will be three films and a jury made up of Laura Azcurra, Verónica Baracat and Solange Alboreda”, she highlights. Saturday the 3rd will be a day entirely dedicated to this perspective: there will not only be screenings but also dialogue sessions, a literary PEFF Women and a fair for entrepreneurs.
Another important axis is associated with the native peoples and ancestral cultures. There is a specific section and also several films that explore this question. “We started little by little, later more productions arrived and we felt it necessary to highlight everything that the native peoples have to offer us, these ancestral cultures that are very present in Patagonia and in the Chubut plateau in particular,” says Scigliano. “I don’t know if it’s the right word, but in a way it’s a debt we had with these cultures and here we go.”
The PEFF also promotes inclusion in a broad sense. There will be, for example, projections with audio description and sign language. “I would dare to say that we were pioneers in the issue of accessibility in audiovisual matters,” says Scigliano. The first edition had a couple of screenings with audio description and sign language. Then it was suspended and this year we understood that we had to return to this because it is essential. We are integrators, we are inclusive and that is our goal. It is true that resources are needed but we start small: there will be an animated miniseries of short films for boys, walkersmade by the Patagonian director Pablo Vázquez in audio description format with the support of EY Argentina, and The planet is in your handsa short film in sign language in partnership with the NGO Canales, which works for the deaf community.
Scigliano stresses that PEFF is, first and foremost, a film festival, so the focus is on evaluate the production and realization of films that are inscribed in the environmental theme. “Every year certain trends appear and, when looking at the programming, it seems that there is a common thread, but in reality it has to do with our gaze and the contribution of the filmmakers. Fortunately, more and more filmmakers have the objective of making this type of problem visible”.
In the 7th edition will be presented eight feature films in International Competition: Ophir (France) tells the story of an indigenous revolution for life, land and culture; The Climate of Change (UK) dives into the heart of activism and follows a group of Germans who risk their lives to save an ancient forest; has woken up (Belgium) investigates agricultural cooperatives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Women (Brazil) focuses on the resistance of an indigenous community against the negative impacts of monoculture; a land (Italy) tells several apparently distant but connected stories in a complex system; An island on the mainland (Mexico) narrates a journey through the entrails of the Baja California peninsula; under the bark (Argentina) deals with the experience of a rural worker from Córdoba who is hired by a successful real estate businessman; Y The silence of the Impenetrable (Argentina) revolves around the brutal murder of the owner of a ranch by land-owning mafias.
In addition to these screenings, there will be a section dedicated to short films, the Patagonia in Focus Regional Competition (Argentina-Chile), the Mini PEFF dedicated to children, and parallel activities such as the project “Schools go to the movies”healthy eating workshops, PEFF Solar –a musical show powered entirely by solar panels and sustainable energy–, the screening of the winning short film “Our Green Footprint: We Are Water” for students from all over the country, and a photographic safari through the beaches of El Doradillo where attendees will be able to capture the whales with their lenses.
- The PEFF will take place from September 1 to 5 in person (in Puerto Madryn) and virtually, through the web.