Comments to the XVII edition of the Gran Paradiso Film Festival
Gran Paradiso Film Festival: ready to go
There are journeys, either real or imaginary, which require us to travel light. The Gran Paradiso Film Festival is one of those. Not much is needed in the way of luggage, besides the right dose of curiosity, prompting us to look, listen and discover. The starting point is the Gran Paradiso area, with its beautiful villages hosting the Festival. The seventeenth edition, which will take place from 26 to 31 August, includes five locations, Valsavarenche, Rhêmes-Saint-Georges, Villeneuve, Ceresole Reale and of course Cogne, the historical heart of the event.
The destination isn't just one. More importantly, it is unknown. The International Competition, expressing some of the finest nature cinema productions to have emerged in the last couple of years, will take us on a journey across the five continents. We will plunge into the forest and roam across the desert, travel through the jungle and in the heart of the country, following the curious, empathic gaze of men and women who made the environment their job as well as their passion. The selected films cannot be ascribed exclusively to the 'documentary' genre. They are rather an evolution of it, creating new, unpredictable hybrids.
A journey, however, is never an end in itself. It must have a goal - be it that of losing or finding oneself. The aim of the Gran Paradiso Film Festival is to enchant, to move, to encourage reflection, to amaze and even to provoke indignation. Through a surprising variety of styles the ten selected films spell out the uniqueness of Nature - whose guardian, man, is too frequently distracted or negligent. No need for special effects: the images speak for themselves. All we need to do is to let ourselves be carried away by the colours, by the multiplicity of sounds and voices which characterize every ecosystem. An entire world can be captured on the screen in its entirety, in the space of a few minutes. The CortoNatura section proves it.
As in every epic journey, we need someone to lead us to the discovery of the secrets of the places we are visiting. The Gran Paradiso Film Festival relies on exceptional guides, who can read and interpret the reality around us. The cycle of conferences De Rerum Natura is a key moment of the Festival: journalists, men of science, artists, jurists, directors and writers spelling out the nature of things and the things of nature, according to their own experience and knowledge. This year, the ethologist Danilo Mainardi, a long time friend of the Festival, will reveal the secrets of animal behaviour. Valerio Onida, former President of the Constitutional Court, will speak on the nature of the Constitution and debate on the subject of potential reforms with Gaetano Quagliariello, Minister for Constitutional Reforms, and Luciano Violante, former President of the Chamber of Deputies. There will be the chance, too, of listening to a man who passionately loves the mountains, and writes about them extensively; we will learn how to observe the sky with different eyes; we will also hear the recollection of great figures of the past.
We shall be accompanied, on our journey, by a special friend, this year's Festival icon, who will share with us his thoughts on Nature. The journalist and writer Massimo Gramellini picks up the baton from the anchorman Fabio Fazio in the course of a video interview which will be screened during the opening night.
We wish that the Gran Paradiso Film Festival might fill the audience's metaphorical luggage with ideas, emotions and questions. We like to think that on their return home our spectators will unpack, ready for another journey, either real or imagery. The time will come for them to leave again, knowing, with Albert Einstein, that 'anything that man can think of already exists in Nature.'
“Question Time: your curiosities on the Parks answered”
Imagine eight experts working for various Italian Parks gathered in the evocative setting of the garden of Maison de Cogne Gérard-Dayné. Imagine that you can ask them questions live, or submit them by email. In fact, let the audience have the chance to give their own contribution to the discussion. Imagine, too, that you can set a limit of 3 minutes available to answer, thus allowing for the spontaneity and quick rhythm typical of this kind of debate. There you have it, the recipe for 'Question Time: your curiosities on the Parks answered.'
On Tuesday 24 August De Rerum Natura, the Festival's section dedicated to encounters and debates, provided the ideal setting for a debate amongst those who work in the protected areas, those who live in them and those who simply love to spend their holidays and free time within their borders.
What topics emerged? Economics, tourism profit, projects, potential issues of the protected areas: such variety hints at the complexity of that micro universe, the Park. Naturally, questions regarding animals abounded.
University professors, engineers, Directors and Presidents of Italian Parks, together with Italo Cerise, President of the Gran Paradiso National Park, and Bruno Bassano, Responsible for the sanitary service and research of the Gran Paradiso National Park, under the guidance of moderator Marco Albino Ferrari, mountain writer and journalist, offered numerous leads for further reflection, opening up new scenarios. We all know that a simple, definitive solution to all problems almost never exists.
Can the protected areas be 'lived' or should they just be safeguarded?
Should the Director of a Park be a naturalist or rather a manager?
Where does one set the boundary between development and exploitation of natural resources?
Can Parks be potential employers for young jobseekers?
What room is there in contemporary society for raising awareness of the importance of ecology?
These are some of the questions thrown at the experts. The interest for the present and future of the protected areas is widespread. The importance of safeguarding such heritage of history and biodiversity is widely felt.
In the Gran Paradiso area, where everything speaks of Nature, talking about its protection and development, as well as of environment education, is not superfluous; on the contrary it is essential. The exchange of ideas and experiences amongst various professional figures is the necessary starting point.
Even the funniest and apparently 'frivolous' questions were given a clear, scientifically rigorous answer. For instance, when asked 'which one is the wildest, the chamois or the ibex?' Dr. Bruno Bassano replied that the degree of 'wildness' in animals is linked to a tangible, historical factor. The ibex, which has been protected for two centuries, is more trusting, less suspicious; the chamois, who has been safeguarded for a briefer span of time, is more diffident and therefore, so to speak, 'wilder'. Here is another instance where Nature shows the extent to which man affects it, for good or bad, with his behaviour.
The Gran Paradiso Film Festival: fact and figures
9723 attendances, 6 screening venues, 10 officially selected films, 11 short films, 180 members of the Jury, 6 conferences, 1 Flash mob, 12 artistic performances and countless Nature lovers.
These are the facts and figures of this year's Festival. Yet numbers cannot explain the atmosphere of those days. They simply trace the contours of what took place. Behind those figures are people's faces, words and emotions which rendered once again the Festival a unique experience.
It kicked off on Monday 26 August with Fabio Fazio's video-interview to Massimo Gramellini on the topic of Nature and ended on Satuday 31 August with the irriverent performance of Dario Vergassola, who co-hosted the award ceremony. We began with the rain and ended with a spotless summer day. In between were the screenings, debates and events of the Festival's seventeenth edition, distributed amongst Cogne, Ceresole Reale, Rhêmes-Saint-Georges, Villeneuve and Valsavarenche.
The selected films, some of which already won several international awards, formed the core of a quality program with more than a few surprises, including Italian and International first releases. The audience was literally carried away by the stories, which brought the animal kingdom onto the big screen. These narratives sometimes intertwine with man's trajectory. Spectacular, difficult, innovative films: the Festival embraced them all... We even proposed an open air screening, with the audience sitting on hay bales, keeping warm with blankets and mugs of hot milk, while two cows and a calf 'interacted' with the herd on the screen, protagonist of the film 'Bovines'.
The 'De Rerum Natura' events also made the Festival special. The encouters and debates focused sharply on the contemporary world, inviting the audience to look beyond appearances, to find new untrodden paths. There was room for questions, for answers and for further interrogatives posed to high profile experts, who captured the attention of many.
The Gran Paradiso Film Festival would not be what it is, however, withouth those who enjoy it: the spectators who, this year as in the past, crowded the venues.
It is of course the audience who declared the winner, the film 'The return of the Hoopoe', who drew ideas and emotions from the films and shared them. The sheer energy of the Festival's crowd never fails to remind us why we strive each year to organise this event.
A cow's life seen in the company of cows
The following is the comment of journalist Vittorio Pasteris on the special screening 'for humans and animals' of the film 'Bovines' by Emmanuel Gras at Maison de Cogne Gérard-Dayné, organized during the seventeenth edition of the Gran Paradiso Film Festival. Here's the link to his blog, Parole Fatti Pensieri: