June 13, 2012 Jan van den Berg returns to CinemAmbiente in Turin

A couple of years after the presentation of the homonymous short film, the director has created a feature film that developed naturally from the initial idea, as Jan van den Berg states himself, and that the big pesticide producing companies have tried to prevent.

 

It all starts with the film’s theme: the danger of pesticides.

With great documentation spirit, the director traveled to many parts of the world filming interviews and other images to testify that everybody knows about the harmfulness of pesticides (like DDT) but nobody does anything to stop the use of it.

 

Undaunted, our director developed the project and with the help of a young Inuit woman (Pipaluk Knudsen-Ostermann) he went on to collect more information on the theme. It resulted in winning 12 prizes around the world and the creation of an online action platform (www.silentsnow.org), with the objective to provide a platform for denunciation against the abuses caused by the use of pesticides.

 

The extraordinary capacity of Van den Berg is he limits the technical data on the topic and brings the camera directly into interesting places instead, interviewing particular characters with important stories.

 

Moreover, he excludes the classical interview and uses a colloquial dialog between Pipaluk and the people that tell her their interesting stories of battles and hope.

 

 

Silent Snow

While the documentary is up to date with its topic, it avoids the classic structure of interviews with scientists alternated with catastrophic data to scare the audience.

 

The dialogues in the film are true stories of real people, told with emotion but without desperation, as Van den Berg avoids cheap sentimentalisms. A documentary full of technical data can warn us, but also fills our head with information that we often don’t understand. Through the personal stories of the people in the film, the audience is able to truly relate to the message of the film.

 

Sometimes it is simply not that effective to hear a message from scientists who will explain endlessly why A affects B and how. It is certainly much more important to note that in all the areas where pesticides are systematically used, people get sick and die for no apparent reason. These facts will raise awareness rather than a list of numbers would. The anthropological foundations of the film emerge in the first minutes, when we meet protagonist Pipaluk who, after a few moments surrounded by Greenland’s beautiful landscape, is suddenly shown on a travel through Africa, where she learns from the culture and traditions of the Masai people.

 

Here we see another genius aspect of Silent Snow’s approach: it demonstrates, to some extent empirical, an interconnection between environments, even if the environments are far off places, thousands and thousands of kilometers apart. Pipaluk notes that, for example, both the Inuit and the Masai live on a diet of only meat and vegetables, as that meets with the needs of their bodies. The Inuit for example claim to need the fat from seals and whales, which opposes the views of modern day vegetarian that state the human being is a naturally a vegetarian. Each example in the film is intended to establish a link between humanity and the environment; because everything affects everything in we are all connected with all that surrounds us in a unique way. Unfortunately this vision is hard for people to grasp in this materialistic society we live in, so strongly affected by people’s egos. There are always people who just want more, without caring how many people will die or get ill as a result of their personal profit. 

 

Silent Snow is one of the most interesting films in the festival’s 15th edition’s competition, that always shows a couple of ‘little pearls’; beautiful projects that we unfortunately -due to a wicked distribution system- often don’t get the chance to see again.

 

Read the original Italian version of this review at Cinefobie.com

 

 

 

 

 








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