December 6, 2010

Riviera Maya Environmental Film Summit

It's been a big week for VIPs and celebrities coming to Mexico. Madonna had the grand opening, in Mexico City, of her Hard Candy Fitness Club; Britney Spears is celebrating her 29th birthday in Puerto Vallarta; and a host of stars, including Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston and Chelsea Handler, are simply here on vacation. Meanwhile, in Cancún, much weightier matters were being discussed by the great and the good.

Greenpeace balloon in Mexico
Greenpeace Climate Change balloon over Chichén Itzá

The United Nations Climate Change Conference has brought ambassadors from 193 nations into Cancún. The decisions that they make here will affect us all for generations to come. On the agenda are pledges from governments to limit their country's carbon emmissions; explorations of carbon-neutral technologies; a 'green fund' awarded to developing nations to stop deforestation and assist them in reining in their greenhouse gases; and the hearing of evidence, from across the globe, about the reality of climate change.

To tie in with this, yet more celebrities have descended upon the Riviera Maya. This is for the first Environmental Film Summit, which has attracted directors, actors, screenwriters and movie animal trainers, as well as activists keen to clarify the actual science behind the glitz and glamour. Theaters throughout the region are showing movies with an environmental theme, as part of the film summit.

One of its organizers, Jose Maria Valenzuela, from the Sustainable Development Foundation, explained how movies are a great way to raise awareness amongst the general public. He add, "Cinema is one of the best tools to involve society in environmental protection and the development of indigenous peoples."

The CoveFestivities kicked off, last Wednesday, with a showing of Academy Award winning picture, 'The Cove'. Ric O'Barry, the star of the American-made movie, was amongst those viewing it, at Benito Juarez Poliforum, in Cancún.

'The Cove' highlights the plight of thousands of dolphins and porpoises killed, each year, by the whaling industry. As well as its Academy Award, for best documentary, it also received the Audience Award, at the 25th annual Sundance Film Festival.

O'Barry made his name as a dolphin trainer, for the popular show 'Flipper'. He later changed course, becoming an activist on dolphin related issues. This was after a dolphin apparently committed suicide in his arms, by closing its blow-hole in order to suffocate itself.

'The Cove' is just one of 7 feature length movies, 12 shorts and several animated shorts, which will be shown as part of the summit. The Mexican resorts of Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Cozumel and Cancún are all lending their movie theaters for the event.

The hub of events is Hacienda Tres Ríos, just north of Playa del Carmen. This is a luxury resort, which is also at the forefront of local conservation concerns. It is built entirely out of sustainable, natural materials, while the grounds and guided tours are all about protecting wildlife, the environment and safeguarding the region's cultural traditions.

It is at Hacienda Tres Ríos where the Environmental Film Summit will culminate. Judges will view each of the film entries, air their critiques and award prizes, based on how well the film-makers raise awareness of the issues at hand. The event is open for anyone to go and see the movies. If you're in the vicinity, it would be well worth taking the trip over there to check it out.

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