19th Seoul International Eco Film Festival – Awards 2022

We present the winners of the 19th Seoul International Eco Film Festival which took place cinemas and online from June 2 – 8, 2022.

International Competition

Best Film

Mata by Fábio Nascimento, Ingrid Fadnes – Brazil | 2021 – 80 minutes

A documentary about the large scale eucalyptus farms and the lagoon which is now gone, Mata calmly portrays how so-called economic efficiency and development can turn into an instant killing machine that threatens the entire ecosystem including humans. Directors Fábio NASCIMENTO and Ingrid FADNES demonstrate that corporations maximizing profit and personal economic accomplishment are no longer a matter of choice and method. They effectively instill the chilling fear that this is a social, political course of action which will determine the survival of a community that absolutely must be altered and transformed and that specific compromise and sacrifice are necessary. (KIM Nan-Sook)


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Special Jury Award

Haulout by Evgenia Arbugaeva, Maxim Arbugaev – UK | 2022 – 25 minutes

The jury wants to recognize Haulout for the remarkable artistry it has achieved in the nonfiction form, its emotional restraint, and the powerful story that unfolds as a researcher bears witness to the incredible and heartbreaking consequences of the climate crisis. (Elizabeth LO)


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Audience’s Choice

Coextinction by Gloria Pancrazi, Elena Jean – Canada | 2021 – 95 minutes

Synopsis: After a mother orca carries her dead calf for 17 days, two filmmakers spring into action, joining Indigenous leaders and scientists making a final attempt to save the last 73 Southern Resident orcas from extinction. Moving beyond a traditional wildlife documentary, Coextinction takes audiences deep into the oceans and forests of the Pacific Northwest to witness the complex systems of interconnectedness linking together ecosystem collapse, centuries of injustice against Indigenous peoples, and the frontlines of the world’s most pressing environmental threats. No species goes extinct in isolation.

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Korean Competition

Grand Prize

Oshika Winds of Change by Kim Myoungyoon – Korea | 2021 – 89 minutes

OSHIKA Winds of Change was commended by the jury for its space, characters, and incidents that fulfilled the criteria of an eco film festival and is a film that can gain universal sympathy. This film contains a gentle energy. It permeates among the facial expressions and conversations and daily lives of the people that form a community in a small town called Oshika who have diverse identities and become one as they worship the land and the trees. The way they respect and persuade even the external destroyers that are barging in under the name of development feels like an extension of their gentle life. The source of that gentleness must be an ecological world view which is an organic relationship between myself and the world. The fight to protect nature against development may come across as a cliché narrative in an environmental film festival, but the film’s unique gentle quality transcends the stereotypical to bring the story of the people of Oshika to us in an endearing way. This is likely the result of the filmmaker having built relationships over a considerable amount of time. Furthermore, we were quite surprised to learn that this was the graduation film by the Korean director had been studying in Japan. We praise the deep emotions and good qualities of this well-made debut film and wish the filmmaker good luck in his future endeavors. (NAM Taeje)


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Excellence Prize

Piano Prism by Oh Jae Hyeong – Korea | 2021 – 92 minutes

The jury has selected Piano Prism for the Excellence Prize in the Korean Competition. The film unanimously struck a chord with all of us as a refreshing and unconventional approach to environmental cinema. Through artist/ filmmaker Oh Jae-hyeong’s yearning to master an instrument that he has begun to learn as an adult, the piano becomes a central character accompanying his everyday wanderings and experiences; a prism that refracts his moving responses to the social and environmental issues that surround him. We are brought into the centre of this existence through the filmmaker’s passion and practice and the piano ultimately feels like a powerful ally in his audio-visual performances as we experience his films and gorgeous animation as light projected over hands on the piano keys. (Katherine BRUCE)


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Special Audience Jury Award

In the Sky Where Seasons Pass By by Ko Hanbul – Korea | 2021 – 103 minutes

In the Sky Where Seasons Pass By contains the boisterous days of the students in Class 1 of 6th Grade at Deoksan Elementary School in Jecheon City. No day is boring for Lee Yun-jae, the teacher who was recently transferred here, and the kids who will be graduating in one year. Fifteen children with distinctly different characters run around the village after school. The mountains and fields that change with the seasons and the stream that flows especially cold in the summer. The children find companionship in nature spread out before them instead of standardized education.

Nothing grows flawlessly. Just like everyone else, the children experience conflict and reconciliation as they grow. The homeroom teacher who is an adult also must face change as they spend time with the children. Steadily, that time builds up and paves the way to growth. As such, the children do not stop at simply acting like an immature being that acts childish. From hateful expressions based on the perception that children are immature to a ‘No Kids Zone’ that excludes children. The world where adults and children co-mingle makes us reflect on the appearance of the community that we need to achieve together.

The image of the children also does not just remain solely theirs. The way someone who has become an adult looks at the children and the value of emotions that cannot be appreciated once we are grown up. The filmmaker’s perspective that wants to evoke these sentiments can be keenly felt through the screen. These faint emotions reach out and touch the audience as they themselves also have experienced such days. The sky where seasons pass is constantly on the move. Just as a child stops in the middle of running around freely and takes out a cell phone to capture the beautiful landscape, the splendid times that we so want to hold onto form layer upon layer on the screen. (KWON Young Eun)

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