Edinburgh Green Film Festival to open this week

Festival with a focus on climate justice being spearheaded by Edinburgh Napier students and graduates

Date posted

18 October 2021


A film festival that is being spearheaded by a group of Edinburgh Napier students and graduates will shine a spotlight on climate justice when it roars into action this week.

Running from the 21-31 October, the Edinburgh Green Film Festival is running for the first time on the INDY On Demand platform, with a fully online programme of films.

The festival will be split between two programmes: its Feature Film programme, and a Short Film programme and will this year focus on themes around Climate Justice, showcasing films, fiction and documentaries that tie together different social injustices to the climate emergency.

The festival is the idea of fourth year BA (Hons) Film student Finlay Van Der Vossen who was inspired after a trip to Wilderland Film Festival two years ago.

His aim was to bring climate and environmental filmmaking to Edinburgh in the run up to this year’s COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in an effort to try and service the people of Edinburgh engaging with these issues.

The festival has been established by a group of Edinburgh Napier students and graduates and volunteers, including Conor Nicolson, Roisin McGrory and Adam Williamson.

The festival has also received funding through the University’s Small Project and Mobility Grand initiative which has allowed Finlay and the team to put together a diverse and wide-reaching programme of films and events, including the UK premiere of Bigger Than Us, which screened at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.A still from the film Bigger Than Us

Finlay said: “I'm really proud of all the programming we are able to show at the film festival. Particularly I am excited that we are premiering 'Bigger Than Us' in the UK, a feature film just off of its run at the Cannes Film Festival. The film follows Melati Wijsen, an 18 year-old environmental activist from Indonesia, as she travels the world to meet young activists who have already helped the world with their perseverance and selflessness.

“The funding from Edinburgh Napier made the whole festival possible. The grant was used to fund speaker fees, screening fees for feature films, and design work. It also helped demonstrate a legitimacy and authority to the project, which in turn helped us partner with Film Hub Scotland, BFI, and INDY On Demand.

“I want to thank Edinburgh Napier University for their belief in the project from its conception, and their continued support. I also want to thank the whole team that have brought this project to life, and their hard work.

“The climate emergency is an urgent crisis that needs to be addressed through meaningful action now. Not only this but, this action must account for the fact that the climate crisis will affect marginalised groups the most, leaving the most vulnerable at the hands of the most severe consequences of the declining climate.”

Focus on Talia

Alongside its film programme, the festival has also been able to film three discussions with directors, including a talk with Cara Bamford, director of Talia and a PhD student within Edinburgh Napier’s School of Arts and Creative Industries.

She will discuss sustainable independent filmmaking alongside producer Matt Gras, and actor Kirris Riviere.

Cara’s film Talia will also show at the film festival.A still from the film Talia

Talia is a short family-friendly film about an eight-year-old girl who loves nature. It explores themes of friendship, grief, family and community, and was originally inspired by a walk Cara often took through green urban spaces of Bristol - her home city and where the film was shot.

The film stars young actress, Stephanie Oviawe, as the titular character, Talia. Sudar Jayaprakasam plays Fareeda, and Kirris Riviere plays Talia's dad, Wyatt.

It has already been shown at festivals around the world, and won the Aesthetica Short Film Festival Youth Jury Award in 2020.

The film also has a 3-star accreditation from the BAFTA Albert Sustainable Institute, and was made as an entirely carbon-neutral production.

Cara explains more: “Albert is an initiative set up originally by BAFTA as a way to make more carbon-neutral broadcast media in the UK.

“As a short, independent film production, Albert certification wasn't necessarily aimed at us, but we felt it would allow us to strive for a recognised standard in green filmmaking in the U.K.

“As we were working with a small team and a tiny budget, it wasn't always easy to ensure we were following the guidelines needed to achieve the certificate - but thanks to everyone chipping in and doing their bit, we managed to get the full 3-star rating.

“We were thrilled with that and are so grateful to Albert for their advice along the way.”

She added: “We were 'thinking green' from the very beginning - from script stage. This definitely helped us in the long run.

“The main takeaway for us was focusing on local talent, local crew, working with local businesses. We also sought out locations that were close together to cut down on travel time - we actually walked between some of the locations, in the end. No mean feat for the camera crew!

“Along with operating a paper-free production office, the producer also emailed out a 'green memo' which acted like a written sustainability guide for the team, before filming commenced.

“From bringing their own cups, to cycling or sharing lifts to location, everyone did their best to help out with the eco-friendly message. It was only possible because of the efforts of everyone involved, and I'm so grateful for that.”

After the Edinburgh Green Film Festival screening, Talia will get its first public, in real life showing at the Barbican Centre in London at the end of October. 

Cara and her team hope to create a feature length version of the film, keeping the same sustainable model in place – in the near future.

More details on Talia and the full Edinburgh Green Film Festival programme of films can be found here.

Alongside Edinburgh Napier, the festival is supported by Film Hub Scotland (part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network, and funded by Screen Scotland and National Lottery funding from the BFI). 

Journey to COP26

On the road to COP26 and beyond, our university community will come together to discuss opportunities and take action through a series of activities and events aimed at opening up the conversation around climate change.