Eco Film Festival to debut

Two Moscow-based Irish directors and film industry execs are planning to take the inconvenient truths of the 21st century east next February for Russia’s debut Eco Film Festival.

Longtime Russia resident writer-director Gerard Michael MacCarthy and Irish filmmaker Johnny O’Reilly plan to bring four days of film about environmental and ecological issues to a country where global warming tends to be seen as a welcome respite from lengthy and severe winters.

The festival will seek to raise awareness of an issue in Russia that is barely on the mainstream political agenda.

MacCarthy, who as director of Infiniti Film & Media organized the Moscow Irish Film Festival and is a cultural consultant to the Irish embassy in Russia, said he was in Cannes to line up documentary and feature projects with an ecological theme and attract international film industry guests who support environmental issues.

“Environmental and ecological issues are just not sexy enough to attract the attention of the media in Russia,” said MacCarthy, a fluent Russian speaker. “Many people see climate change — shorter winters — as a positive thing without being aware of the cause or the effect.”

O’Reilly is also in Cannes with his new Russian-language feature “The Weather Station.”

The Moscow festival initiative comes at a time when filmmakers and companies in the West are taking ecological issues more seriously.

Co-operative, Britain’s socially-aware retailer, financial mutual and the country’s largest farmer, used the Cannes festival to launch an initiative to produce socially conscious films.

Working with U.K. distributor Dogwoof, the Co-operative — founded in the 1840s and today owned by its 3 million members — will jointly finance the marketing and distribution of campaigning films.

“Burma VJ: Reporting From a Closed Country” and “The Vanishing of the Bees” are the first two films on the slate.

“Burma” tells the story of democracy activities in Burma, mostly shot by undercover local filmmakers using illegally concealed cameras. “The Vanishing of the Bees,” about the decline in the worldwide bee population, will get theatrical release in the U.K. later this year.

Paul Monaghan, head of social goals and sustainability at the Co-operative, said: “We recognize the power of film to motivate people to take action and drive change.”

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