With new international project, Slow Food focuses on education

A Slow Food festival in Bra, Italy

POLLENZO — In an era marked by unprecedented environmental challenges, the role of culture in addressing the climate crisis has come to the forefront of global agendas. As articulated in the 2019 World Cities Culture Forum report, culture serves not only as a reflection of societal norms but also as a potent force for provocation and change. By challenging existing paradigms and shaping collective values, culture has the power to galvanize communities and inspire action on pressing issues such as climate change.

 Central to this cultural landscape is the medium of film, which possesses a unique ability to capture hearts and minds through immersive storytelling. Films have long served as windows into human experience, offering audiences a strong connection to diverse perspectives and narratives. In the context of environmental sustainability, cinema has become a powerful tool for raising awareness, fostering empathy and catalyzing social change.

 The Food on Film project

 The Food on Film project will be officially launched at the Hungry Minds Festival in Pollenzo, Italy, and will run until 2026. It serves as a nexus of culture, education and environmental advocacy, recognizing the transformative potential of film as a vehicle for addressing food-related sustainability challenges. 

 By harnessing the emotional power of storytelling, the project seeks to engage audiences in a dialogue on the intricate relationships between food, environment and society. Through a blend of cinematic experiences and educational initiatives, Food on Film aims to cultivate a deeper understanding of the complex dynamics shaping our food systems and their impact on the planet. 

 “Launching the project at the Hungry Minds Festival has a very important meaning for us,” says Eleonora Lano, Slow Food’s Director of Education. “On this occasion we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the University of Gastronomic Sciences and emphasize again the role education plays in shaping young students who represent a new brighter future for our planet. Slow Food Italy has also recently presented a petition to include food education in schools, perfectly in line with the Food on Film objectives.”

 The Food on Film project offers a range of innovative tools to engage with and inform its audience, particularly young people. At its core is a digital platform featuring 200 environmental films, built upon Cinemambiente's existing database and accessible to high schools in five European Union countries, giving them access to a diverse selection of environmental films. Through this platform, classes will open the door to a comprehensive educational pathway supported by various toolkits related to key Slow Food issues, enabling them to participate in engaging and in-depth activities. 

 Within this selection, a specific catalogue showcases documentaries available in Italian, English, French, German and Montenegrin, aimed at raising awareness around environmental and food-related challenges among younger generations. In addition to classroom screenings, students will engage in interactive and immersive activities in collaboration with Slow Food, including educational Live Action Role-Play (LARP) games and the production of short films. These innovative methods not only foster active student engagement but also equip them with practical skills in effectively communicating food system challenges.

 The project also includes a European screenplay contest among schools participating in the first-year projects, allowing students to express their creativity and engage with food-related themes through filmmaking. Winning schools will have the opportunity to take part in filmmaking workshops with the Mobile Film Festival, contributing to the formation of a global community of young film activists.

 “The first protagonists of this project will be students, with their creativity, open minds and capacity to consciously use new technologies,” continues Lano. In the first year of the project, at least 100 European school classes will access an extensive Cinemambiente film catalogue and have the opportunity to analyze the films and create short videos themselves. “Students will have the unique opportunity to learn about how films are made and explore new activities such as LARP, a playful activity originating in theater where players embody characters within simulated scenarios. These are essential assets that can feed into their CVs.”

 The Food on Film project will enable the cross-border collaboration of the Slow Food movement with five European environmental film festivals, which complement each other with creative and technical skills. This diverse partnership reflects the project's multidisciplinary approach, combining entertainment and activism through educational and creative activities in schools and environmental film festivals that are open to the public. The project reaffirms the importance of films and food as a center of exchange and social aggregation, looking in particular to the younger generations with the overarching purpose of bringing them closer to environmental issues and cinemagoing experience.

 The first four festivals—Cinemambiente Environmental Film Festival in Italy, theInnsbruck Nature Film Festival in Austria, the Interfilm Festival in Germany and the Green Montenegro International Film Fest—will host a selection of films from the Food on Film catalogue during their annual editions. The screenings will be matched with special events such as debates, tastings and meetings with food producers, cooks and farmers. The fifth festival is the Mobile Film Festival, which focuses on education activities and film-making workshops.

 More on the festivals

 Cinemambiente was started in 1998 with the aim of presenting the best international films on the environment and contributing to the promotion of environmentalist culture. It is now the leading green cinema event in Italy and among the most important on the international scene.

 The Mobile Film Festival was created 18 years ago and is one of the best smartphone film festivals in the world. It aims to discover and support young talented filmmakers from around the world. The festival boosts a unique format of “1 Mobile, 1 Minute, 1 Film” and is fully digital. It draws on a previous collaboration with the United Nations to raise awareness of environmental challenges through films, having participated in COP21, COP25 and COP26 through a festival section on the topics “Act on Climate Change,” “Act Now on Climate Change” and “Making Peace with Nature.”

 Green Montenegro International Film Fest (GMIFF) is a conceptual film festival around the theme of environmental protection. The aim is to develop and raise awareness of the need to protect the environment through the artistic impulse and the improvement of knowledge and awareness of ecology.

 The Innsbruck Nature Film Festival (INFF) is Austria's only film festival with a focus on nature and the environment. It celebrated its 22nd anniversary in 2023. As an international environmental film festival set amidst the Alps, the INFF pays special attention to European networking and the values of the European Green Deal.

 Interfilm Festival-International Short Film Festival Berlin was founded in 1982 in the squats of Kreuzberg. Now in its 39th edition, Interfilm is the oldest and biggest short film festival in the German capital. Over four decades it has developed a reputation that attracts international filmmakers and local film fans alike to the cinemas every year. The festival, which qualifies for the Academy Awards, has long been renowned even beyond German and European borders.

 All the project’s partner festivals belong to the Green Film Network, which links the major annual film festivals that focus on environmental issues. It coordinates its members' festival events, promotes and distributes films worldwide and encourages initiatives and projects that raise environmental awareness. Slow Food, Cinemambiente and the Mobile Film Festival have already successfully collaborated in the framework of the EU-funded project “CINE - Cinema communities for Innovation, Networking and Environment.”

 The project is run by Slow Food, Associazione Cinemambiente, CEZAM, Innsbruck Nature Film Festival and Mobilevent and is co-funded by the European Union and Creative Europe MEDIA with the contribution of Fondazione CRC.