Interview with Pedro Piñeiro Fuente, Diretor of ECOZINE, Festival Internacional de Cine y Medio Ambiente de Zaragoza, Spain.
ECOZINE takes place in a beautiful city of Zaragoza, in Aragon region of Spain. During warm days in May there are screenings in cinemas, city film libraries, center of history, museums and even bookstores. And there are many many parallel events, from discussions and debates (where serious topics come next to “World of zombies” for example) to book presentations and wine tasting. No wonder there are many guests every year from Spain and from other countries who come and visit the Festival.
ECOZINE not only screens films, but it also produces them: environmental documentaries about local struggles.
Green Film Network continues a series of interviews with film festival directors. Welcome to the story of ECOZINE.
How did it all begin? How was ECOZINE born?
It was 2008. EXPO was taking place in Zaragoza that year, with main topics such as development and water. It seemed a good reason to make a series of screenings (not a festival yet). We had several short films and long documentaries, including “Water front”: great film, I remember. And then we thought: “Why don’t we organize a proper festival dedicated to environmental films?” The following year we decided to make it again. And then again. And here we are in 2016 already.
Also in that very same year, 2008, I met Gaetano Capizzi. And he is one who can inspire you to do a lot of things.
What do you remember from the very first festival?
I remember I was happy and overwhelmed. It seemed to me that so many people came. There were may be around 1200 altogether but it seemed incredible. That was the first time that I saw people coming, to have full venues at the opening and closing ceremonies, to have all these questions from audience…
What is the most difficult part in your work?
There are so many good parts that it is hard to say. I mean, it is magic to watch all these films, to make selections: all these filmmakers send you films from their heart. Incredible. But sure there are difficulties. First of all, searching for budget. It is horrible. You remember this film, “Groundhog day”? That’s the principle. Every year we start all the process again and again. You have to go, convince and explain… That’s the hardest.
That’s not the best moment for a sponsorship or financial support… but in Spain it is a never good moment for such a thing! For culture and environment, never. In the end you do your best with what you find. And from a personal point of view: it is very hard for me to make such a commercial business. I hardly know how to do it, I feel uncomfortable, honestly speaking.
What do you like the most about the festival work?
I like when all our guests come to the city. Every year there are filmmakers, and producers, and jury, it is truly magnificent to meet them and connect with them. Such an amazing moment to build something together, to plan projects for the future. I know that it is important for all the ECOZINE team, we are becoming almost like a big family.
Can you remember some funny stories that happened during your festival?
There are so many of them! I can say that I really like when people meet at the festival and fall in love. And continue their love story (and it is so difficult to continue to be in love!) I usually get to know about it after the festival, people come to me and tell me stories, what happened, how it happened. I love these moments!
You visited a lot of festivals. Which do you remember the most?
They are all so different. I have been to many of them and have dear memories. It is hard to compare festivals in Torino or Paris, this big, old, magnificent events. Where you can meet so many people. But there are also these small and nice festivals, like Tulcea in Romania, Ecocup in Russia, Cine’Eco in Portugal, also Festcineamazonia: it is an incredible work. The first time you go to any festival – it may be difficult a bit, you don’t know anybody. But after that so many friendships are born. We may not meet for a year, but when I come back, it is like we talked yesterday! We are 29 festivals in Green Film Network now. Every festival is different with its own characteristics, with its own way to organize the event.
Can you give some advice to people who want to organize a festival themselves? Some word of wisdom.
First of all, don’t organize a festival! (laughing). Ok, let’s get serious. I think it is important to remember that you are not alone. That you always can search for help, reach other people. Another thing. You don’t have to be different or original. You don’t have to extravagant. Even unique. To be able to make a festival you have to “take into your hand” the possibility to make it. And then you can ask anybody how to do it!
There is one more thing that I realized just later. First years we were so proud, we were going around saying “We made this festival all by ourselves just with this budget”. It was recently when I understood that it is not a good thing. When you don’t have budget enough, you cannot do everything you want or need to do. You have to lessen things. Budget is so important. As an organizer of the festival you have responsibilities. You have you team working for you. We have this saying in Spanish: “Don’t mix price and the value”. You are fool if you do! Even if you don’t have money this time to pay, you have to understand the value of all this work.
What are other ways to communicate environmental ideas?
There are so many ways. I like to organize workshops to discuss everything that is going on. Other than that, I have seen one magnificent experiment in Brazil, in Rondonia. They were taking about “necessary poetry”. We brought this concept after all to Zaragoza. Because it was beautiful. You see? I am not original. I go to festivals, I see something incredible, perfect, and I bring it at home.
So there was a poetry workshop?
Yes! They were writing poetry. It all happened in the theater full of young people. Old poets was entering the scene to read poems about changing the world. It is also a way. Music can be a way, why not? And of course, cinema is perfect, it plays with music, images, words. Fantastic for young people.
Do you think that you save the world with your work?
No. Really, no. Every time when festival finishes we get together with the team. We all are so tired, because it is not this week of the festival, but 10 month of work before. We are tired and we are talking to each other. Like, how was it for you? Do you think it was important? But I don’t know if it is important for the world. It is important for us. To know that there are so many other people who are interested in this topics and care about them.
I don’t think we save the world and I don’t need it. I don’t want Nobel price. But I like what I do! How many people in this world can say the same?
By Anastasia Laukkanen