The Winners of the 18th Seoul Eco Film Festival

We announce the award winners of the International and Korean Competition.
Thanks again for all of the audience, filmmakers, and juries who support and visit the 18th Seoul Eco Film Festival.

[International Competition]
Best Film: The Last Forest, Luiz BOLOGNESI
Special Jury Award: Stray, Elizabeth LO
Audience’s Choice: Once Upon a Village, Srishti LAKHERA
                                      White Cube, Renzo MARTENS

[Korean Competition]
Grand Prize: Land and Housing, KIM Kiseong
Excellence Prize: Your Face, SEO Dong-Il
Audience Jury Award: Land and Housing, KIM Kiseong

International Competition

The world is becoming a more complex place every day and this selection of films offers us an outstanding cinematic experience, while exposing ourselves to environmental and social issues that go far beyond climate change, widening our perspectives and triggering many discussions and reflections. The urgency and timeliness of the problems discussed shed a light on some important dilemmas of our time and how these circumstances are dealt with in different geographical areas of the world. These films have expanded our concerns and comprehension about diverse environmental problems. By sharing the day to day life of indigenous people living in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil, experiencing the survival instinct of street dogs in Istanbul, judging the construction of a polemic church in Moscow, feeling the desire to become an artist in Congo, shedding a light about the living conditions of metal workers in the Urals, or following the mesmerizing relocation of a century-old tree, these films confirm that the solutions for the issues of our time are extremely difficult to grasp but in in every place there are human beings fighting for the world to become a better place. (Marcelo GOMES)

Best Film
The Last Forest 

Jury’s Comment: The 18th SEFF’s international competition section was filled with outstanding films with unique qualities that all could be considered as the winner. Among the 12 films, the jury unanimously selected The Last Forest directed by Luis Bolognezi as the Grand Prize winner. The Last Forest offers a strong cinematic experience that transcends borders, races and cultural barriers with timely environmental issue. Leading the audience to the middle of the Amazon forest where lives the legend from the beginning of the world, this work sheds light on the lives of the Yanomami tribe who existed long before the birth of the nation. The myths and legends that are passed down from the lips of Yanomami people are played by the tribesmen, creating a beautiful harmony with the reality. There was a slight regret that the history of the invasion by the government and miners threatening nature and tribes was not mentioned enough. But we were able to listen to the forgotten voices of the natives who have shared their destiny with the Amazon forest for over a thousand years. There was no disagreement that it makes the audience feel and learn a lot about the Amazon. We hear every day the news that the deforestation of the Amazon forest is radically accelerating. We hope this film is not about the end of the Amazon forest. As the slogan of the 18th SEFF ‘ECOvolution’ implies, we hope The Last Forest will help change the world, raise awareness of the environment. (JANG Yeong-Yup)

Director’s clip


Special Jury Award
Elizabeth LO

Jury’s Comment: There was no disagreement among the jury with the decision that the Special Jury Award goes to Elizabeth Lo’s Stray. Her film portrays not only the daily lives of citizens in such a bustling metropolis, Istanbul, but also the lives of socially vulnerable groups such as illegal immigrants, blue-collar workers, and animals through the eyes of stray dogs. The distance between the dogs, the main characters of the film, and the camera shows an exquisite balance that is neither close nor distant. This camera work can only be established on mutual trust between the filmmaker and the subject, which enabled the dogs not to be aware of the camera, and simply live and unfold themselves as a part of the city. Even though wildlife filmmaking with animals is a particular challenge, the director filmed her work for more than two years, which allowed to capture the reality of their lives. Consequently, it became the true strength of the film. In the final shot of the film, Zeytin, the protagonist, draws out howling as he responds to the trilling call to prayer from speakers of the mosque. At that moment, the distinction between the dog and the human species becomes insignificant, whilst sincere hope has arisen that God’s blessing would be evenly given to every single unprivileged being. The film allows us to ponder social alienation, and moves forward to inclusivity and coexistence with all beings. (LIM Soon-Rye)

Director’s clip

Audience’s Choice
Once Upon a Village 

White Cube 

Director’s clip

Korean Competition

The Korean competition of the 18th SEFF includes 7 films (6 documentaries and 1 fiction). It is regrettable that the screening has to be done online, but nevertheless, we had a meaningful time sharing our opinions on the outstanding films. This year, almost every work has shown various stories of environmental issues regarding the logic of development, nature, and capital and human relationships. The environmental awareness was not covered by a wide range of subjects, but the films observed and recorded the reality with various perspectives. As SEFF announced that it will avoid the concept of the ‘competition’, the jury selected the two films in supporting manner. The Grand Prize goes to Land and Housing by Kim Kiseong. It shows the history of the national housing corporation apartments under reconstruction, the memories of their residents, and the present moment of the community filled with the preciousness of trees and flowers. The Excellence Prize goes to Your Face. The protagonist with developmental disabilities shows a positive attitude toward art through painting portraits. The intimacy that captures her daily life provides a warm feeling while encouraging the healthy empowerment. City of Outlanders has shown thorough initiative and sophisticated performance while dealing with the history of Gunsan. Sasang: The Town on Sand shows the destruction of a local community and the traces of two people’s lives through their body. Dreaming Cat shed light on the survival and coexistence showing the abandoned cats in the reconstruction sites and the people who save them. Space Baedari makes us feel the nobility of life as the natural space that the community cherished disappears due to the road construction in Baedari, Incheon. The Bird We Saw Once is a short fiction that calmly looks at the characters who face unwanted changes due to the construction of the second airport in Jeju’s beautiful scenery. All these works send a meaningful message to the world. We are very grateful to everyone who made us to be together with good works in such a difficult time. Now that we are passing through the tough times caused by COVID-19, I hope that these works dealing with environmental issues will be empathized by more people. (KWAK Yong-Soo)

Grand Prize
Land and Housing
KIM Kiseong

Jury’s Comment: The jury has selected Land and Housing for the Grand Prize, for its layered and complex depiction of the built environment, and of an urban community on the brink of destruction. Through skillful filmmaking, revealing visual choices, and sensitive interviews with the residents, we are shown how this neighborhood, built at human scale and suffused with nature, has fostered a community and positive quality of life. We see the value of what has been gained gradually in a humane environment, and what is lost instantly through heedless destruction. Land and Housing provides a subtle but strong case for the importance of preservation. (Peter O’BRIEN)

Directors’ clip

Excellence Prize
Your Face 
SEO Dong-Il

Jury’s Comment: In the 21st century Korea, where the enactment of anti-discrimination laws is a hot topic, there is still insensitive discrimination based on gender, disability, race, and age, etc. Eunhye, the protagonist of Your Face, has developmental disabilities. Perhaps she is suffering from widespread inconvenience, discrimination, alienation, and prejudice. We’ve seen many great films protesting against this inequality and had to face a reprehensible side of our society. However, the cinematic initiative of Your Face turns in a slightly different direction. Eunhye, who draws caricatures at the Munho-ri Market in Yangpyeong, appears as an artist with unique eyes who works and communicates with society. It focuses on the liveliness of the subject living in a society rather than the injustice that arises every moment. Following her daily life, our harmonious sense, which is made in a similar shape through institutions and education, seems to come to life anew. We all have enough power to live a beautiful life under our own conditions. I really enjoyed watching Your Face crying and laughing at the magical charm of Eunhye. On the other hand, this film also contains the uniqueness of Yangpyeong. Criticizing the verticality and closed life style of city, the ecologists have experimented with peaceful alternative community in Yangpyeong. The monthly Munho-ri Market, healthy Eunhye and 2,000 people who smiled brightly in front of her, and various performances that break the boundaries of art are all the more precious because they show the Yangpyeong community’s efforts and dream. In this regard, Your Face is another seed of hope dreaming the coexistence of human and environment. (KIM Dong-Hyun)

Director’s clip

Audience Jury Award
Land and Housing
KIM Kiseong

Jury’s Comment: Land and Housing, selected by the Audience Jury, is a film that will be the last portrait of the Jugong apartment (Korea National Housing Corporation Apartment complex) in Bongmyeong, Cheongju which is soon to be demolished. After fierce conflicts have been swept through the area, the director Kim Ki-sung pays attention to the remains. By starting from the desolate present, and flashing back to the beautiful past, the film captures four seasons of Bongmyeong Jugong, and the meaning of the space for people who left through their direct testaments. Land and Housing goes further and turns its angle to the trees which are also residents that have shared the long history of the village. For more than 30 years, the trees that have shed their leaves, ripened fruit, and dappled shade. They stood still when the buildings collapsed and the residents left one by one. The scenes where those trees are unceasingly being cut distinctly call an image of socially vulnerable groups to our mind. While the long history of the community is being split up, and scattered into unfamiliar spaces, the film sends farewell wishes that could not be shared among the community. The traces of Bongmyeong Jugong that had shared the birth, growth and challenges of many lives, has now disappeared into history. Nevertheless, the memory built in the community will carry on and live always in the film. (LEE Sollim)

Director’s clip