Raindance Green Cinema Panel: Festival Head Elliott Grove Says, ‘It’s Tokenism to Recycle Scripts’

LONDON — The Raindance Film Festival’s ecology and film panel – What Does Green Cinema Mean? – took an unexpected turn when the Guadalajara Festival’s Ivan Trujillo, due to host, was unable to attend due to unforeseen circumstances. In his place, festival head Elliott Grove led a lively discussion in which he proposed a different response to the issues of conservation currently being debated in the industry. He recalled an ecological summit at this year’s Cannes Festival, noting, “It was all very worthy, except it suddenly occurred to me that they were basically talking about recycling all the scripts that are used on big-budget features.”

Grove said that his mind turned to the Bechdel Test, an informal system of film rating, named after American graphic novelist Alison Bechdel, which examines a work of fiction to see if it features at least two female characters who talk to each other about anything other than a man.

Grove proposed a similar idea for Green issues: “I thought, why don’t we do something similar for ecological messages in film, and have a rating system? Like a green circle, with a V for verified, or a rating out of five, however you want to do it – so you can put that on the posters and trailer to promote the ecological message of the film. It’s not just a question of saving electricity when you’re shooting or recycling the scripts, it’s about identifying the underlying message of the film.

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He went on: “I think there’s a whole sense of urgency on this, too. And the quickest thing is to have the films themselves promote their ecological content, as they presently promote their genre content, be it sex or violence or horror. It’s as simple as that.”

To put things into perspective, Grove noted that digital cinema had also helped reduce a film’s Green credentials, saying that, “A lot of the films we have [at this festival] were shot on the street, or someone’s house, with virtually no carbon footprint from a set point of view.” Instead, he pointed out that cinema’s relationship to ecological issues is very different to that of other mass-market industries. “I think the film industry’s problems, in terms of recycling and minimising resources, are probably a lot less than most other industries,” he said, “if not all other industries. But I also think that filmmakers have a moral responsibility. Because unlike any other industry, we have the power to say something – we have a message to get across.”

Grove ended the session by wondering if the issue could be addressed at the British Independent Film Awards, the Raindance Festival’s sister event in December. “Maybe we should [have] an award category for the film that most promotes ecological themes,” he mused. “I think that would be viable. I’m not just talking about [not using] paper cups or recycling scripts. That’s preaching to the congregation. But it would be an interesting wrinkle, wouldn’t it? But we’re already set for December this year, so it wouldn’t be able to happen before December 2017 by which time, God, we’ll have ruined another percentage of the atmosphere.”

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