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Potsdam rolls out the green carpet

The newly established film festival GREEN VISIONS POTSDAM will celebrate its premiere the end of May

Potsdam is a city of film: the Babelsberg Film Studios, the Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF, small and large production companies and over 130 companies for VFX, costumes, make-up, scenography, set construction and film scores are all located in an area measuring just a few square kilometres. There isn’t anywhere else in Germany where so many national and international films have been made at one single location. In 2019, Potsdam was designated as a UNESCO Creative City of Film. But Potsdam is also a centre for science with 10 universities and colleges, the Potsdam Science Park and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

A newly established film festival now brings these two strengths together: the end of May – 30 May, 2024, to be precise – will see GREEN VISIONS POTSDAM celebrating its premiere at the Filmmuseum Potsdam. It’s thus an almost logical consequence that film is being brought together with science and focusing on environmental protection and sustainability.

Addressing climate change: films with very different kinds of approaches

But how can climate change be presented in films? Festival director Dieter Kosslick and curator Karen Arikian have screened and then selected feature films and documentaries on such topics as climate protection, sustainability, agriculture and nutrition. The festival team attach particular importance to creating a space here for positive and solution-orientated ideas about sustainability. It’s more a question of “being a showcase for entertainment and a forum for knowledge – and spreading confidence despite the worrying climate change”, is how Dieter Kosslick puts it. The aim is to show that it can also be fun to grapple with the issues of climate protection and use film art and science to stimulate reflection.

The filmmakers, including many documentary filmmakers, have chosen many different approaches. Three programme highlights are already known: the German premiere of the film ‘Whale Nation’ will be shown on the festival’s opening night in the presence of the director Jean-Albert Lièvre. Using spectacular underwater footage, he tells the story of the whales based on the latest scientific discoveries and traces the majestic sea dwellers from Mexico to Greenland. The renowned marine biologist Prof Dr Antje Boetius will speak before the film. And another premiere will take place on the first day of the festival: Universal Pictures International, in cooperation with GREEN VISIONS POTSDAM, will be showing the debut feature film ‘The End We Start From’ by the British director Mahalia Belo at the Thalia Kino in Babelsberg. The screen adaptation of Meghan Hunter’s novel stars Jodie Comer, Joel Fry and Benedict Cumberbatch escaping a London hit by floods to the supposedly safe countryside in this survival thriller. This screening will also be introduced by the climate scientist Professor Anders Levermann from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

The German premiere of ‘Food, Inc. 2’ on 31 May will be another highlight alongside the two opening films. The sequel to the Oscar-nominated documentary ‘Food, Inc’ takes the audience into the darker reaches of the food industry. Those interested in the subject will be treated to more film art in the parallel VR section screening at the University of Potsdam. VR productions can be seen here on between seven and ten different demo stations.

See, understand and experience sustainability

SEE, UNDERSTAND, EXPERIENCE is thus also the triad used to promote the festival’s first edition. Screening films is only one aspect as practical knowledge will also be being communicated here. The audience will be involved throughout the four days of the festival and invited to take part in discussions after the films. Conversations with leading scientists and experts will be held after the screenings to open up space for discussions.

Anyone interested in finding out how to make their everyday life more sustainable can be inspired by a range of plants, handmade food and green products as well as workshops at the ‘Market for Sustainable Living’ in front of the Film Museum. ‘We invite the visitors to strike up conversations with each other, exchange ideas and continue the discussions outside the cinema hall,’ says project manager Nele Hussmann from the Runze und Casper agency. The film festival should appeal to all those interested in sustainability and provide access to the topics without people having to have any prior knowledge or expertise.

The programme is online

Preparations for the film festival began two years ago. A feasibility study commissioned by the City of Potsdam had initially analysed the level of interest from the population and the initiative’s practicability. The Runze und Casper agency interviewed more than 30 experts from the fields of film, science and the environment, conducted a survey on the potential number of visitors and came back with a positive feedback. ‘The results of the feasibility study confirm this: a film festival about the environment that is fun and inspiring is in tune with the times, and Potsdam is the right place to do this,’ Bernt Rubelt, one of the state capital’s aldermen, said in a press release. Following its successful premiere, the film festival is set to become a regular event in the future. This year will also see the Potsdam Climate Prize, which had been presented in previous years at the Environmental Festival in the Volkspark, being awarded at a ceremony as part of GREEN VISIONS POTSDAM on 30 May.

The festival programme was published on 8 May. Ticket sales will also start then.

Image Credit: Runze und Casper