Director BIO: Laura Lardeux (LOOKING FORWARD)

Laura grew up in the audiovisual world and studied the art of visual expression at Lycée Saint Joseph, in Thônes in 2009, alongside documentary maker, and film professor, Patrick Avrillon. She then went to study audiovisual arts at the Ecole de l’Image et du Son 3IS, in Paris. She worked with two directors, Nils Tavernier, whose film De toutes nos forces she acted in, and Stephan Moszkowicz, for whom she was an intern in post-production of his documentary, Génération entrepreneurs, produced by Balina Films and shown on Arte Tv (France).

She specialised in documentaries, in Quebec, studying at l’Ecole des métiers du cinéma et de la vidéo in Rivière-du-loup. Alongside her studies, she landed the role of presenter and journalist of a documentary programme, called, Les Ramasseux, produced by Alambik Films and shown on MAtv (Quebec national tv). This eight-episode series dealt with the history of Quebec, through the eyes of avid antique-dealers.

Her documentary, AVENIR/LOOKING FORWARD, ©2020, produced by PVS Company and Drama Way, takes us behind the scenes of the town council elections of 2020, alongside a group of political novices, engaged in an unprecedented combat, calling for participatory democracy and genuine ecological transition in the mountain environment. AVENIR won the award best short documentary in LA Independent Women Film Festival at Los Angeles, a nomination in London Eco Festival and his selected in festivals in USA and Canada.

Her new documentary, MICHELE, ©2021, produced by Drama Way, tells the story of her mother’s battle with illness.

Director Statement

I’ve always found politics dehumanized: inaccessible people at the head of power, with whom I couldn’t identify. I really felt that my voice as a citizen wasn’t being heard. I’ve never felt comfortable in pyramid systems, nor have I understood the ever-widening gap between the everyday reality of a population and those that govern us. What’s the point of getting politically involved when you just don’t feel concerned, and when all political debate in the media is reduced to cock-fighting?
La Clusaz, the village where I grew up, was forever moving towards excessive and unsustainable exponential economic growth. The gap between the inhabitants and the elected representatives was getting wider, and nothing was really changing. I was fearful. For my beloved mountains, for the future. My dreams had vanished, and in their place was doubt and a secret desire to escape. My despair at what was happening in the world just made me bury my head in the sand, or rather, in my case, in the snow. I had a dilemma: to stay wrapped in cotton-wool, hoping I could withstand the bumps and jolts, or step outside my cocoon, to educate myself, take risks and defend the things which were valuable to me, starting with my immediate environment. But where to start? Then one evening, I came across a post on social media by a group of inhabitants of La Clusaz: “A team who wants to change the way politics is conducted.” This immediately caught my attention.
I wanted to watch, observe and film this group from the inside.
The next day, camera in hand, and beating heart, I joined their adventure. What interested me wasn’t their political campaign, their manifesto or their strategy, but how and why these particular people from totally different backgrounds wanted to get involved in this civic undertaking and devote all their free time to it? Valuable time in the winter season for restaurant owners, ski instructors and parents of young children. At first, they were somewhat suspicious of my motives, and so it was a slow, gentle immersion into their territory, their HQ.
I followed the daily activities of the group, through the eyes of Alexandre, the forward-thinking, passionate, thirty-year-old. His empathy and his charm helped create an intergenerational bridge between all the team-members. I blended into the scenery as much as I could, and slowly but surely, they no longer noticed my camera slowly. I witnessed the start of a movement, full of good will, if sometimes awkward. Truly endearing people, from all walks of life, throwing themselves with fervour into a battle they weren’t prepared for. They were ready to meet the challenge together and for the common good. I wanted to be right up close to their humanity, both literally and figuratively, with a warm, intimate camera, seeking off-the-cuff remarks.
As well as being touched by the political values of this electoral group, such as the issues of global warming and participatory democracy, it was their journey that I wanted to film.
Visually, I wanted to capture the complexity of the risks they were taking, the emotional fragility of victory and failure, as well the poetry of their support for each other, their sometimes child-like interactions, when they assembled and expressed their belief that anything was possible…their desire to build an attractive and sustainable future, to ensure everyone’s needs were heard, to make politics more humane and to give meaning to commitment.
I’m a young woman from Generation Y. I believe that we’re a generation torn between the old and the new world, which we don’t seem to have a grasp of. This feeling of being torn has brought about a general sense of disenchantment, and media-induced stress into which we’re drawn only reinforces our demotivation. The title of the documentary, Looking Forward, represents for me the essence of the human adventure that I wanted to capture on film: a path towards hope. This group of people gave life to my dreams once again / brought my dreams alive again. With this film, my aim is to share this joy and this note of hope. Here, or elsewhere.

Short Film: LOOKING FORWARD, 26min., France, Documentary

Looking Forward (“Avenir” in French) is the charming and uplifting portrait of a collective in search of meaning, in the shadow of global warming. This 26-minute documentary tells the story of a group of people who get politically involved for the first time. In an attempt to get elected to the town council, they tackle the issues of climate crisis and democracy, which threaten their Alpine ski-resort, La Clusaz.

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Director BIO: Julie Winokur (GHOST FOREST)

Julie Winokur has been a storyteller for over two decades, first as a magazine writer and then as a documentary filmmaker. She launched Talking Eyes Media in 2002 as a way to focus on creating visual media that catalyzes positive social change. Her work has appeared on PBS (Aging in America, Firestorm), the Documentary Channel (Firestorm), MediaStorm, National Geographic Magazine and Discovery online, as well as in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and MSNBC.com. She has received two Emmy nominations and numerous awards from World Press, Pictures of the Year International and the Society for Professional Journalists. Beyond broadcast and publication, Winokur works extensively with nonprofit organizations to develop their messages and put Talking Eyes’ films to work at the grassroots level. She has been on faculty at Rutgers University-Newark and the International Center of Photography in New York.

Director Statement

I live near the Ironbound, and for many years I have driven over it on my way to and from New York City. Until you get on the ground and witness the impact of having so much industry, the port and airport right next to people’s homes, it’s impossible to grasp the impact. Experiencing this firsthand was so sobering it compelled me to translate what I had seen into film. The Sacrifice Zone is not one neighborhood’s story; it is our story. We benefit immensely from the garbage incinerator, the airport, the sewage treatment facility and the 14,000 trucks that pass through the Ironbound every day transporting goods. Most of us have the luxury of convenient ignorance—out of sight, out of mind—but for environmental justice communities, that is not an option.

For the past five years, I have been producing a Newark-based project called Newest Americans, which looks at immigration and identity. This project has me immersed in the city, understanding its rhythm and flow. My short films for the project have been featured on National Geographic, The New York Times, and the Atlantic, and we have received major funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and National Geographic. Through this work, I have embedded in Newark and have earned the trust of residents of the Ironbound. This is incredibly important because they are weary of outsiders who typically extract what they want and then disappear. This has been the case with industry, journalists, academics, and now gentrification.

Through Newest Americans, I had the opportunity to teach a course called Environmental Justice in the Ironbound at Rutgers-Newark this year. My students had to interview and photograph community members to gain a deeper understanding of the human toll of industrial pollution. Many of the students grew up in the neighborhood and had no idea what they had been exposed to. This made my resolve about the film even greater. EJ communities are often the least informed about their exposure to hazardous chemicals, and the least empowered to act politically.

In addition to Newest Americans, I am also currently producing a short documentary about the Humanities Action Lab, a consortium of over 20 international universities that will examine environmental justice through local perspectives. Each campus has researched a local theme, which will be shared through a traveling exhibition that visits all of the partnering universities over the next three years. The Sacrifice Zone will become an integral part of this traveling exhibition as it tours to over 20 locations.

Short Film: THE SACRIFICE ZONE, 31min., USA, Documentary

If you travel down a one-mile stretch of Doremus Avenue in Newark, NJ, you pass a natural gas plant next to a sewage treatment facility next to an animal fat rendering plant next to a series of ominous looking chemical storage containers behind acres of fencing. Airplanes pass overhead every two minutes, their engines rattling windows, while a putrid smell wafts from the open pools at the sewage treatment plant.

This stretch is known as Chemical Corridor, and it’s located just down the road from schools and apartment buildings. It borders the Ironbound neighborhood, where Portuguese, Brazilian, Central American and African American residents are separated from toxic substances by little more than a railroad track.

The Ironbound district of Newark, New Jersey, is one of the most toxic neighborhoods in the country. Maria Lopez, a Honduran-American resident there, is waging a war for environmental justice. The Sacrifice Zone follows Maria as she leads a group of warriors who are fighting to break the cycle of poor communities of color serving as dumping grounds, so the rest of us can live in comfortable ignorance.

Director BIO: Michael Fodera (GHOST FOREST)

Michael Fodera is a NYC-based filmmaker. He is currently the Senior Video Producer at Squarespace and his client list includes CBS, CBS Sports, Island Def Jam, Sundance Film Festival and Newsweek Magazine. His work has been featured as a Vimeo Staff Pick and been shown on MTV.com and A.V. Club. His films have screened at festivals around the world.

Director BIO: Kalie Granier (2 FEET)

Kalie Granier is an interdisciplinary California-based French artist and curator. Her artistic practice explores the natural world below the surface and the interdependence between everything. She questions the links between our underwater environments, their ecosystems, and our human bodies in the Anthropocene era in order to reveal social and ecological imbalances while imagining alternatives for a more equitable future. Her research lives at the intersection of art, biology, and activism with a focus on seaweed and relies on a close dialogue with scientists and environmentalists. Her ecological commitment is omnipresent in her creative process and her experiences through the upcycling of local natural material gleaned from the beach.

Director Statement

She graduated (MA) from the ESAG, Penninghen School of Visual Art in Paris. Her work exhibited in several galleries in the US and France, ProArts Gallery (Oakland California), The MAH Museum and Radius Gallery (Santa Cruz, California), 836M Gallery (San Francisco), Galerie Linz (Paris, France), and more recently at Museum Centre del Carme (Valencia, Spain), Loop Festival (Barcelona, Spain), LA NAU Cultural Center (University of Valencia, Spain), GoodPlanet Foundation (Paris) and Es Baluard Contemporary Art Museum of Palma (Spain)

She is the co-founder of Loud Spring an Ecofeminist Art Tank and Actions based in San Francisco and curated the Pulsions Festival in California in 2018.

Short Film: 2 FEET, 6min., USA, Documentary

“2 FEET” explores the aesthetics of macroalgae and their majestic kelp forest through the lives of five women from five continents.

This film sits at the intersection of art, science, and ecological conservation, depicting the life power of the underwater forest through women’s prayers. «2 FEET» raises collective consciousness, centering dialogue within living environments to which humans inherently belong while promoting tangible action and response at the intersection of climate change and social justice.

This short film is an ode to the giant kelp of the pacific and to ecofeminist. values.

Fusing Contemporary Art and Science
Using artistic film of kelp to explore how linked patriarchal, colonial, and capitalist systems oppress women and ecological foundation species.
In collaboration and dialogue with the scientists from REEF CHECK Foundation and the Musician Gabo Lora.Director Biography – KALIE

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Director Biography – Delia Hou , Juan Cupini (THE TRASH CAN)

DELIA HOU is a nomad at heart, having grown up in many places throughout the US, Taiwan and Malaysia, adapting to something different in each place. However, she finally found her home in Buenos Aires, the mecca of tango. From the very first moment she dropped into a class, tango captivated her by opening up a wealth of emotions and sensations uniquely inspired by the culture. Before, while studying astrophysics at MIT, studying law at NYU, or practicing law in Silicon Valley, she always escaped to explore movement in physical activities such as kung fu, jazz, flamenco, circus silks, and water polo. However, only the tango touched her so much that she quit her job as a lawyer to dedicate herself to it. Now, rather than travelling to different places, she is undertaking an artistic journey into the heart, rolling on the wheels of her imagination in search of truth and beauty. With each project , she expresses bit by bit what lies hidden in her soul but has yet to be defined. This meandering path has led her into unexpected territory, such as fashion modeling, acting in Theatre in the Dark, dancing tango on TV, acting in short films, and incorporating modern dance techniques. Following this tenuous thread down the rabbit hole has led Delia to her current focus: using dance films to raise awareness of plastic pollution through the character of PlastiQueen.
….
JUAN CUPINI began his long career as a tango dancer in 1996 in the Municipal Theatre in the Merlo Province of Buenos Aires. Highlights of his career include acting as principal dancer and dance captain of Arrabal, the tango musical created by world-renowned Gustavo Santaolla, staged in Toronta, Columbia, and the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard in the US. Other protagonist roles include Compañia Estampas Porteñas (China, Peru), Argentango Volumen 2 (Japan), and Madero Tango (Buenos Aires). He has also participated in dance companies in shows staged all over the world such as Canada, Japan, China, Columbia, New Zealand, Peru, and Brazil. Currently he maintains his role in Arrabal and is also the principal dancer and assistant director of the show “Magia” in Madero Tango, one of the most prestigious tango shows in Buenos Aires. He studied with a wide range of masters and milongueros, and incorporated their knowledge of tango into his personal style, which after decades of experience, is defined by an incredible combination of intensity and freedom. Within the medium of film, he has assisted in the direction of a music video with a cast of 10 dancers, and brings to the table an innovative creative vision based upon his deep expertise in dance and live performances.


Director Statement

Delia´s statement:

I see the performing arts as an act of intervention, with the ability to alter the observer´s perception of the world. With this film, I hope to open a fleeting glitch in the matrix, just enough for PlastiQueen to leap out into the world and make the observer perceive the absurdly ubiquitous plastic packaging around them differently. I choose to raise environmental awareness through the arts because I want to capture the observer with something that is aesthetically-pleasing and entertaining, but leading up to a brief moment of subtle questioning. I hope to plant seeds of change by entering through the eyes, and cause just one split-second of an altered perception of the world, through the combination of the viscerality of moving bodies in movement, music, landscape, rhythm, and narrative.
Many times the topic of environmental justice is often framed in scientific terms or in protest or as educational material, which of course, is necessary. However, I believe harmony, justice, and beauty are all universal sensations, and the health of the planet and nature is an inevitable conclusion of following those sensations. Connecting to an audience through the arts, instead of a factual approach, allows the artist to tap into these states of feeling. I hope to generate an on-screen world which provokes the viewer to connect with that part of themselves that seeks to feel a sense of environmental harmony for at least a short moment.

Short Film: THE TRASH CAN, 4min., Argentina, Experimental

Every little action counts in combating the environmental crisis caused by plastic overproduction and overconsumption. PlastiQueen is watching you, and will portal into this world to hold you accountable for contributing to plastic pollution! Will you think twice about your plastic consumption and disposal?