Slow Food on Film, launched by Slow Food in 2005 in Bra and now heldin Bologna, is a unique international festival presenting documentaries, features and shorts that take an engaging and diverse look at food production and food in our culture. They might be moving, funny or enraging, but the festival’s selections always make you think. From past editions, here are some films, long and short, dedicated to fish and fishing:
Les Damnes de la Mer (The Damned of the Sea), Rhalib Jawad (Belgium, 2008) – Formerly known as Mogador, Essaouira is a small Moroccan town of the Atlantic coast. It was once the most important sardine fishing port in the world, but today there are no fish left in its waters.Thousands of small-scale Moroccan fishermen from Essaouira, Safi and Agadir have traveled south, to Dakhla in the Western Sahara, in the hopes of finding fish. They find themselves caught up in a hellish struggle, with desperate fishermen fighting against trawlers from foreign countries who have robbed them of their livelihood by fishing with enormous nets capable of destroying entire ecosystems. Who is going to take responsibility for this death sentence?
Red Gold, Travis Rummel and Ben Knight (USA, 2008) –The Bristol Bay region of Southwest Alaska is home to the Kvichak and Nushagak rivers, the two most prolific sockeye salmon runs left in the world. Foreign mining companies Northern Dynasty Minerals and Anglo American have partnered to propose developing the world’s largest mines here. Despite promises of a clean project by officials, the accident-plagued history of hard rock mining has sparked deep concern from Alaskans who love and depend upon Bristol Bay’s incredible wild salmon fishery. Red Gold documents the growing unrest among Alaska natives and commercial and sport fishermen.
Goede Vissers (Good Fishers), Michiel Zwaanswijk and Pepin Kortbeek (Netherlands, 2008) – A fascinating portrait of young fishers practicing an alternative, traditional method of fishing. Jan Geertsema’s small fishing business was one of the first to be certified sustainable. For more on Jan, see here.
Pirate for the Sea, Ron Colby (USA, 2008) – Captain Paul Watson, the youngest founding member of Greenpeace Canada, organized early campaigns protesting the killing of seals, whales and dolphins before being ejected by Greenpeace for his extreme activism. Having started his own organization, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, he went on to sink illegal whaling ships, stop Canadian seal hunts for ten years and permanently halt sealing in the British Isles and the killing of dolphins on Iki Island, Japan. This documentary records the last five years of his activity.
Be Water, My Friend, Antonio Martino (Italy and Uzbekistan, 2009) – “Today is neither what yesterday was nor what tomorrow will be.” This sentence encompasses the resignation of the ex-fishermen of Mo‘ynoq, a ghost town on what used to be the shore of the Aral Sea. The city and its inhabitants are the victims of an unstoppable decades-long environmental disaster.
Le café des pêcheurs (The Fishermen’s Break), Al Hadi Ulad Mohand (France, 2007) – It’s wintertime in northern Morocco, and the fishermen spend their time watching over their boats from the local café. Braving both the weather and the harbor authorities, Monsour decides to head out to sea to bring back food for his family. His absence totally disrupts the life of the café.
Mare Nostrum, Sabrina Giannini (Italy, 2008) – Italy may be a country surrounded by water, but it has to import 70% of the fish it consumes, thanks to disastrous marine management that for two decades has exploited the Mediterranean and drastically depleted its fish stocks. This episode of the investigative journalism program Report takes a look at the issues.