With twice the number of bicycles as cars, Amsterdam is known for being a cleaner city than many of its European counterparts. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t do more, however. This is one of the messages of Strawberry Earth, the online environmental platform behind the Netherlands first ‘green’ film festival, being held in the Dutch capital on June 5 and 6.
Sixteen, mainly feature-length movies will be screened over two days, the first day, June 5, coinciding with the United Nation’s World Environment Day. The movies come from all over the world, but all have an environmental theme in common.
Several of the movies will have their Dutch or world premiere at the festival. These include Oscar-nominated The Garden, about the remarkable 14-acre plot in Los Angeles’ South Central neighborhood threatened with destruction; and the British post-apocalyptic flick The Age of Stupid, starring veteran actor Pete Postlethwaite. HOME by French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand, best known for his stunning aerial images of the Earth, will also premiere at the event, screening concurrently with the movie’s world premiere in Paris.
Other movies in the line-up address a host of environmental issues, ranging from global warming and the first ‘climate refugees’ (The Last Days of Shishmaref), and the modern love affair with plastic (Addicted to Plastic), to the predicted water crisis (Flow).
Straweberry Earth Helps Bring Sustainability Up to Date
The festival is an initiative by Strawberry Earth, an online platform for people from all over the world who want to do something positive for the environment, which was set up in November 2008 by Mette te Velde and Ikenna Azuike.
“My parents were very interested in sustainability so I grew up with that around me. But that was their kind of sustainability and I wanted to do something that was relevant to 2009, something that would attract young, creative people” explains Te Velde.
The platform produces a regular online magazine, but the founders also wanted to bring people together offline. Inspired by environmentally oriented film festivals in Barcelona and Washington, Te Velde and Azuike came up with the idea of a similar festival in Amsterdam – with a twist.
Te Velde believes that film is a good medium to convey a message because “it touches people and makes them think. But we also want to inspire people to change, and cinemas use quite a lot of electricity. So we asked our favorite cinemas in Amsterdam how much of the revenue generated over two nights they would invest in eco-friendly upgrades to their own cinema. The cinema with the highest bid would host the festival.”
Investing in Becoming Greener
Three cinemas said they would be willing to invest 100% of their revenue. Het Ketelhuis went a step further, however, also agreeing to donate the savings it made on energy bills for the next 10 years to an environmental charity. This cinema won the bid.
Te Velde and Azuike hope the festival will become an annual event and grow to include the other two cinemas who agreed to invest all their revenue in becoming greener. In the meantime, Het Ketelhuis will be working on making itself worthy of future environmental film festivals by installing a water-saving device in its bar, switching to renewable energy and using non-toxic cleaning products.
Full festival details, movie synopses and video clips can be found on Strawberry Earth’s website.