Sustainable Film Festivals: Celebrating the Power of Sight and Sound



Film: perhaps our most powerful and thought-provoking medium of communication, links hands with sustainability annually, at these six film festivals. Sharing the common goal of bringing producers, directors, science, and the watching public together on a journey characterised by insight, emotion and inspiration.


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We look beyond the big three global film festivals - Cannes, Venice and Berlin – despite all of their glory and magnitude, in bringing social and environmental issues to light through their ubiquitous high profile in the media and amongst the public. Here, we curate those film festivals that are dedicated to placing sustainability centre-screen.



Cancelled due to COVID in 2020, this year’s Environmental Film Festival was, like many events and festivals throughout the pandemic, re-fashioned for a virtual audience – should we say it: more widely accessible and less emissions-heavy too? - The festival, active since 1993, is one of most long-standing film festivals to dedicate itself entirely to bringing ever-escalating environmental issues to the world stage through the art of the moving image in all of its forms.

The festival will be back in 2022, format re-imaged once more no doubt. With a long history of giving a voice to communities around the globe, it is reasonable to suggest that there is something for everyone to learn through the films showcased.

Winning films this year explored everything from the impact of colonization and the deepening climate crisis on Native American Tribes, in the feature length documentary, 'Inhabitants: An Indigenous Perspective', Directed by Costa Boutsikaris: 


To Marlena Skrobe's film ‘They Keep Quiet So We Make Noise’, which sheds light on activists in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The central issue addressed is that of the importation of plastic waste to Malaysia, and the suffocating impact this has on residents:




Poised to ask the public to look and listen, this charity run festival is dedicated to bringing the most pertinent global environmental films to people across the UK. One week every year, the charity hosts a nationwide festival celebrating a careful curation of films through independent cinemas across 12 major cities, from Inverness, to Leeds, to London.

Their aim is simple: to inform people, and inspire them to take action against the global climate crisis and everything that comes with it… and what better a medium to do so than through the immersive medium of cinema? Corona-induced, this year’s festival has adapted to enable the dissemination of the annual curation of important, visionary films but re-imagined to be digital and remote.  




The twentieth annual NaturVision festival of Ludwigsberg, Germany, will centre around the topic “RETHINK”, alongside categories spanning biodiversity, environmental issues, wildlife and human behaviour in relation to the Earth. The 2021 Festival calls for filmmakers to challenge the status quo and depict visions of optimism for a more healthy and sustainable earth for future generations.




The 74th annual festival will take place this August, in the shape of a new hybrid experience, the festival will take to both indoor, outdoor and online spaces to generate a COVID-friendly and future thinking festival.

And to celebrate Scotland’s year of coasts and waters, the festival will host outdoor waterside screenings, as a celebration of Scotland’s beautiful coastal landscapes, film, and the powerful fragility of our environment all at once.

The core focus of this year’s festival is centred on bringing people together from around the world after a year in lockdown, in the common interest of addressing climate issues, and inspiring action. The festival also boasts goals to reach net-zero carbon emissions throughout their running of the festival by 2030, embedding sustainability in as many aspects of their festival as possible.



One of the major signals of the dire consequences of our climate crisis, and often falling victim to excessively damaging human activity, is wildlife. The International Wildlife Film Festival gives a voice to the creatures from every corner of the globe and places them on a world stage by recalling their experiences through film. It encourages the – often invisible – sufferers to be recognised, and perhaps inspires people to make changes in their lifestyle habits in order to be more considerate for everyone- and everything- else that co-habits on this planet with us.

From films about the decreasing numbers of American Ocelots (Ben Masters’ ‘America Ocelot’); to the conservation of Turtles in the Caribbean (Emilio José Álvarez García’s ‘Aurora’); to questions of how the illegal trade of the pangolin has contributed to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic (Ruth Berry’s ‘Corona – The Pandemic and The Pangolin’). The festival deals with the here and now of life on this planet and provokes people to think mor deeply about the need for more planet and wildlife friendly.


The 45th annual festival is scheduled to take place in 2022.



This year’s slogan “Eco Us, Eco Earth” encapsulates their mission: they ask people to recognise their intrinsic connection with the Earth and its’ ecosystem during the Anthropocene. The films featured will explore issues surrounding threats to wildlife, exploitation of natural resources, the disposal of waste and of course, everything related to our current flight path as the climate crisis escalates.

See below the trailer, encapsulating the 2021 event which happened earlier this month. 


Maybe a reminder of the very environmental wrath that we will face if nothing is done to save our planet, this year’s film festivals, and likely those in the coming years, will look very different to how they did in the past. It is in the hands of film-makers to open our eyes to the global crisis, the trails of which are found in all of our footsteps. And it is in the hands of the film festival to curate and showcase these artfully crafted, unforgiving narratives across the world. And it is in the hands of the viewers, who collectively harness the trajectory to divert our current global flight path towards climate catastrophe, to take action. 


+  Words: Niamh Heron, Luxiders Magazine 

BA Journalism and Media Graduate, based in Leeds, UK

Connect with her through Instagram @niamh.heron or LinKedin