Pioneering environmental film festival celebrates its 33rd year

The Ekofilm festival is less about red carpets - and more about green politics than anything else. It was the first environment-focused film festival in Europe when it was set up back in 1974. This Monday, it got underway for the 33rd time, in the Southern Bohemian towns of Ceske Budejovice and Cesky Krumlov. And this year it's bigger than ever before - on the programme are concerts, seminars and an international film competition, all with a decidedly green twist. One of the institutions behind the festival is the Czech Environment Ministry. Jakub Kaspar is a ministry spokesperson, he explains a bit about the history of Ekofilm:

"It was founded under Communism by a group of people who were very deeply involved in nature and environmental protection. It was not much loved by the Communist regime, but fortunately, it was never broken up by the police. When it first started, it was held in Ostrava, which is the capital of North Moravia. This region was one of the two most polluted regions in the country at the time - it was especially affected by air-pollution."

When it was set up, it was quite a new concept - it was quite avant-garde - the rest of Europe didn't really have such eco-film festivals, so does it continue today, when there maybe now is this tradition in other parts of Europe, to be a conceptual film festival?

"I think that in the past, under Communism, the conception was quite different from what it is now. In the past, the main meaning of the Ekofilm festival was to create a place to meet, to create a forum for discussion. And maybe, it could be said, that it was, in part, a place to protest. Because, the Communist government didn't do anything about the pollution or the environmental damage that there was at the time. And the Ekofilm festival was not only a description of the damage, but also a protest against doing nothing."

Okay, and what about this year's festival? What does the line-up look like?

"There were 142 films sent to the Ekofilm jury, and I think it was 52 of them that were approved to be part of the competition. They are from 33 countries, so really from all over the world. One third of them are from the Czech Republic, and the other two thirds are from abroad. The topics of the films are very diverse, from hot-topics like climate change and air-pollution, which lots of the films at the festival discuss to so-called more 'normal' films about nature. For example, about turtles, about oceans, about National Parks and so on."

The Ekofilm festival runs until Sunday 14th of October, in both Ceske Budejovice and Cesky Krumlov. And it's almost completely bilingual, with Czech films all having English subtitles, and a large number of the films coming from the English-speaking world.