Hot air blast at film festivals

Director slams lack of green credentials

by Richard Mowe

Director Benedikt Erlingsson:  "The industry should reduce its amount of air travel while films had to be made with greater green production credentials."
Director Benedikt Erlingsson: "The industry should reduce its amount of air travel while films had to be made with greater green production credentials." Photo: Richard Mowe

Film Festivals need to wake up their ideas on carbon footprints and greenhouse emissions - and they will have to change their ways to become more sustainable.

So said Icelandic director Benedikt Erlingsson when he joined other speakers including Helga Trugel, member of the European Parliament; Linda Beath, an Italy-based industry observer; and Dylan Leiner from Sony Pictures.

Erlingsson, whose third feature, Woman At War, screened in Cannes three years ago, used colourful language to hammer home his points. “Festivals send scouts all over the world farting carbon. They invite guests - again carbon farting.” And there are all the associated paraphernalia such as taxis and meals.

Chair Michael Gubbin (left) and Sony’s Dylan Leiner at the talks session at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
Chair Michael Gubbin (left) and Sony’s Dylan Leiner at the talks session at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Photo: Richard Mowe

He felt that there were far too many films being made - an estimated 1600 a year in Europe from which only around 600 secure distribution outside their country.

The industry should reduce its amount of air travel while films had to be made with greater green production credentials.

“It would be much more interesting for the cinema-goer to have Skype style introductions, instead of a tired director answering the same questions and leaving in his wake this trail of farting carbon.”

Warming to his theme he suggested that festivals could instigate tree planting as obligatory, enabling a forest to grow over time. Work less, sleep more and plant trees,” was his parting shot.

Erlingsson did, however, appreciate the irony of his position, having travelled and created atmospheric waves en route to a sweltering Karlovy Vary, suffering like much of Europe from the effects of global warming. His particular green revolution could be a long way off.

On the subject of too many films being made, Sony’s Leiner said: “We do not have a public funding system for cinema as you do in Europe although certain states offer incentives to filmmakers. This means the number of productions made is natural and self regulating. Despite all the complications I still firmly believe that there has never been a better time to be a storyteller or filmmaker and that is all positive. The line-up in Cannes this year was stronger than ever with a crop of new film-makers presenting their first or second films alongside industry veterans.”

A case in point he suggested was the indie road movie The Climb - which marked a superlatively cinematic début by Michael Angelo Covino - about a bromance between two best buddies and the inherent messiness of their lives.

“We acquired the film after noting the level of interest and meeting the producer and director who we felt were people we could work with,” said Leiner.

The panel presentation at the Hotel Pupp was part of a new series of KVIQ talks covering topics of current concern in the industry.

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