This year’s theme was ‘Reflecting on Water’, an opportunity to dive more deeply into a series of films and events that reveal the different ways water touches the lives of people around the world, and to inspire audiences to cherish the rivers and seas that sustain us all.
Bringing new features to the UK and a specially commissioned short film from Wales, along with live panel events, we hope our mini festival inspired reflection on environmental issues alongside great storytelling. See you again in March for our WOW festival!
For twenty years, WOW Wales One World Film Festival has shown the very best, eye-opening world cinema so you can experience the weird, wild, wonderful world we live in. We run an annual festival each March and various projects throughout the year. For more information about the festival and our team, you can visit our ABOUT US section.
The Last Forest (12A)
Director: Dir Luiz Bolognesi
Brazil, 2021, 74’,
7pm Thursday 16 September
Through elaborate storytelling in which the Yanomami themselves re-enact their creation story of two brothers and a water goddess, this hybrid documentary gives space to Brazil’s largest native community to steer the narrative and bring us closer to their way of understanding the world. As their unchanged, elemental way of life competes with the lure of the developed white world across the river, Kopenawa and his peers fight against the poisoning of the rivers where they bathe and fish, whilst striving to keep their thousand-year-old culture intact.
“Only in our forest can you sleep in peace” Davi Kopenawa
“visually and sonically rich without falling back on empty exoticist spectacle” Variety
Under the Concrete (PG)
Director: Roy Arida
Starring: Alain Najm
Lebanon, 2020, 78’, subtitles
7pm Friday 17 September
An unexpected delight filmed in the city and waters of Beirut. With black smoke billowing in the distance, tangles of traffic jams and relentless noise, the only time salesman and part-time diving instructor Alain feels at peace is during those moments he spends in the incredible calm of the underwater world. Seeking escape, he takes decides to risk everything on a challenge that could be life-changing. Going beyond character study into character immersion, Arida combines realism, adrenalin, beautiful underwater photography, social commentary and a romantic sub-plot to great effect, building the suspense whilst taking us into Alain’s sensitive inner world. Look out for the magical encounter with a giant manta ray.
"The camerawork is spot-on throughout, . . . highlighting the way perception can be altered in a heartbeat" Eye for Film
Saad el-din Wahba Award for Best Arabic Film - Cairo International Film Festival
Lobster Soup (PG)
Directors: Pepe Androu, Rafael Moles
Iceland / Spain / Lithuania, 2020, 95’, subtitles
7pm Saturday 18 September
In the fishing town of Grindavik, not far from Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, Bryggjan café and its eccentric owners are the heart and soul of the community. Krilli makes the famous lobster soup, while his brother Alli chats to the old fishermen, the island’s last champion boxer, and the translator of Don Quixote into Icelandic, keeping their memories and the old traditions of storytelling and song alive. But are they about to be engulfed a volcanic eruption? Or will it be global tourism that proves the greater threat? With its warm heart and off-beat humour, LOBSTER SOUP will have you coming back for more.
“Very nutritious, deeply delicious and served whole… good-natured, existential, heroic and a little gloomy, a little elegy about the human condition and the time.” Cinephilia
The Fairytale of Water
Sunday 19th September, 6pm
Directors: Jacob Whittaker, Peter Stevenson
Beneath the west Welsh waters are stories - flood myths - that tell of a time when you could walk across Cardigan Bay to Ireland. Above the sea are forgotten fairytales that tell of dreamers who built utopian lands, old ladies who made love potions with well water, and rivers who were seen as people. Using old methods of visual storytelling that gave rise to the fledgling film industry, filmmaker and sound artist Jacob Whittaker and storyteller and illustrator Peter Stevenson take a journey through time to hear these lost voices in the water. Specially commissioned for WOW.
Join us for the premiere on Zoom, where there will be the chance to meet Peter and Jacob, ask your questions about the film and share your own watery stories.
Flow | LliF
Credits: Clare Parry-Jones, Rufus Mufasa, Siôn Marshall-Waters
Wales 2021/22 mins
Flow is conceived, directed, and performed by Clare Parry-Jones. It follows Clare’s creative response to her experiences of child loss, through paper art, performance, and poetry. At the heart of Flow is water, in which we begin life, and which gives life to the paper bodies, connecting us to our ancestors and descendants, and the element of water both within and without us.
THE WATER HOLDS ME/
THE WATER BINDS US
Director: Lily Mae Kroese
"Like the water we swim in, The Water Holds Me/The Water Binds Us animates, holds and binds together our experiences of wild swimming. Based on the stories of women who dip, dive and swim in rivers, lakes and seas, it evokes many different experiences in one swim, from the anticipation of getting in cold water to the feeling of floating alone and the conviviality of bobbing together. The film celebrates the power of water to wash away pain and fear and restore and revive our relationships with the natural world and each other.
The Water Holds Me/The Water Binds Us is a collaboration between Charlotte Bates and Kate Moles, sociologists and swimmers based at Cardiff University, and illustrator, animator and swimmer Lily Mae Kroese, with sound by Jennifer Walton. Drawn from research with the wild swimming community across the UK, it is part of a larger project exploring what wild swimming feels like and what it brings to our lives."
Voices from the Water
Sunday 19th September, 4pm
Panel Discussion over Zoom
If water could speak, what would it say? What do we most need to hear at this moment? Hear from divers, swimmers, researchers and activists, who will each give their unique perspective on transforming our attitudes to water.
Based between Snowdonia and Pembrokeshire, Laura Owen Sanderson, founder and director of We Swim Wild, uses adventure activism to highlight issues in the environment. The Waterloggers are a network of regional representatives who each look after their local stretch of water completing beach, river and lake clean ups and taking scientific samples of their local waterway that Bangor University tests for levels of microplastics and other silent contaminates.
Taking inspiration from post-humanism, the morethanhuman move and multispecies ethnographies, social anthropologist Dr Luci Attala’s work asks the question “how does water make us human?”. Luci is currently exploring the role water plays in shaping lives in rural Kenya, Spain and Wales.
David Jones represents Neptune’s Army of Rubbish Cleaners (NARC), an award winning Welsh charity that has carried out over 2000 underwater clean-ups in the UK and abroad. Run by volunteers who are passionate about having a positive impact upon the marine environment, NARC also focuses on raising awareness of the impacts and working on collaborative solutions.
Professor of Environmental and Ecological Economics in Aberystwyth University's Business School, Mike Christie’s work addresses a wide range of natural resource and environmental issues including both marine and terrestrial ecosystems, water quality, biodiversity, agri-environmental schemes, recreation and tourism. He examines the human welfare impacts of biodiversity loss in developing countries, with recent studies in Madagascar, Malawi, Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Indonesia, Bangladesh, the Solomon Islands and the Caribbean.
Charlotte Bates and Kate Moles are sociologists at Cardiff University. They are interested in the ways in which water binds, immerses and supports us. Their research explores the multisensory worlds of wild swimming, the ways swimmers understand wellbeing, joy and risk in the water and the bonds that are created and sustained through these encounters.
Lily Mae Kroese is an animator, illustrator and wild swimmer. Led by a love of gentle storytelling and traditional techniques, Lily's work seeks to connect with people in quiet ways. Her practice varies between animations, picture books and paintings and is often research-led and collaborative.
Dr Christian Dunn is Director of the Bangor Wetlands Group, an active researcher and lecturer in wetland science - in particular wetland ecology, peatland biogeochemistry, carbon sequestration and the use of constructed treatment wetlands. He is also the director of the Plastic Research Centre of Wales and has ongoing research projects looking at plastic and microplastic pollution. Christian is co founder of We Swim Wild a National movement to track and monitor levels of micro plastics in U.K waters. Dr Christian Dunn is also an award-winning environmental campaigner and public speaker. He has given three TEDx talks and regularly appears on local and national TV, radio and press publications talking about environmental and climate issues. Being a former journalist he has written for a range of leading newspapers and magazines.
THE LAST FORESTS: Voices from the Amazon
Thursday 23rd September, 7pm
The Yanomami’s struggle featured in THE LAST FOREST is a microcosm of the dangers the world faces. How can we support the Yanomami to uphold their rights to their land and to live in their own way?
Fiona Watson (Research and Advocacy Director at Survival International) and Sue Branford (Latin American Bureau Editor) will join WOW Film Festival’s director, David Gillam, to delve deeper into the issues facing Indigenous peoples that are highlighted in THE LAST FOREST. Clearly Indigenous peoples with their sustainable way of life are the best protectors of the forest. By preventing deforestation and biodiversity loss, they are key to our global struggle to reduce the impact of the climate crisis. The outcome of the violent conflict between Brazil's Indigenous peoples and President Bolsonaro’s extreme, right-wing government and the powerful agribusiness sector will not only define the Indigenous peoples’ way of life, but also our planet’s survival.
Fiona Watson is Research and Advocacy Director at Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples' rights. She has been with Survival since 1990 and worked on many campaigns for indigenous peoples' rights, notably with the Yanomami, Guarani, and Awá in Brazil. Fiona has visited many indigenous communities in South America and is a specialist on uncontacted tribes in the Amazon. She has visited tribal communities in Africa and Asia and co-ordinated Survival's campaign with the Central Kalahari Bushmen of Botswana. She carried out fieldwork with a Quechua indigenous community in the Peruvian Andes for her MA and lived in the Brazilian Amazon for two years.
Sue Branford began her career as a journalist by working in Brazil in the 1970s as correspondent for the Financial Times, the Economist, and the Observer. On returning to the UK, she worked for the BBC World Service. Sue has published five books, including The Last Frontier – Fighting over Land in the Amazon and Cutting the Wire – the Story of the Landless Movement in Brazil, which was awarded the Vladimir Herzog human rights prize. Sue is currently involved in a research project in the Amazon and is a volunteer editor at Latin American Bureau. She writes regularly for the environmental website Mongabay.
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