“My Octopus Teacher” by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed is the winner of the 24th Stambecco d’Oro Award, worth €3000, awarded by the Gran Paradiso Film Festival Jury. The film was selected to take part in the Festival in November 2020; it was subsequently nominated for and ended up winning the 2021 Academy Award for Best Documentary. “My Octopus Teacher” captivated viewers with the touching, incredible story of a rare friendship between a man and an octopus. Director Pippa Ehrlich said: “On behalf of the team behind My Octopus Teacher, it is an enormous honour to receive this award- particularly from an environmental festival like Gran Paradiso. I wish I could have been there in person, but current global challenges made that impossible- another reminder of how fragile we are on this miraculous planet. I learned many things from the octopus teacher, but perhaps most relevant now is that everything on Earth is connected, whether you are in mountains in Italy, a wetland in Botswana or a kelp forest at the tip of Africa and every one of us has a role to play in creating a liveable future for human beings and all of the creatures we share this place with – including octopuses”.
The ceremony brought the 24th edition of the Gran Paradiso Film Festival to a close. This was a particularly vibrantedition: over 18,000 spectators across the venues and online, 18-day programming, 80 screenings in theatres, 150 hours of streaming, 10 national and international high-profile guests hosted during the De Rerum Natura conference series,571 people registered to take part in the Festival Jury.
“It has been an extensive, particularly meaningful edition,” said the Festival’s Artistic Director Luisa Vuillermoz; “after a difficult year and a half, the Festival is back as a space where people can enjoy the pleasure of sharing and discussing today’s topical issues. There is no vaccine to stop the current ecological and climate crisis. Yet a collective effort can still change things; the example provided by directors who, with their talent and commitment, contribute to raise awareness for wildlife protection is inspiring. Like Pippa Ehrlich with her film, My octopus Teacher.
The GPFF is a unique vantage point on the natural world, but it can also be a platform to defend it!”
Corrado Jordan, the President of Fondation Grand Paradis, said: “Th GPFF films leave us with a sense of wonder for the natural world – for ecosystems near and far. Nature is amazing yet fragile. The tipping point is never too far. We have a responsibility to take action to preserve it. Each of us can and must do something about it.”
In the feature film category the Technical Jury awarded “On thin ice”, by Henry M. Mix and Boas Schwarz, with the following motivation: “An extreme environment depicted with such technical skill as to make a complex, controversial topic utterly clear. It is a challenge to humanity’s survival. This is not fiction; filming was carried out ethically, and the result is raw, unsparing images that shake our conscience. It is a wake-up call for humanity”.
The Short Film Award went to “Stories of you and I”, with the following motivation shared by the Technical Jury: “a dramatic crescendo of ideas and emotions, masterfully narrated by a talented, renowned actor. Viewers are drawn into understanding the meaning of the journey as it unfolds, until they are overwhelmed by the force of the revelation: humankind is unable to understand the world in which it lives. Humans are lost in the daily business of life, trapped between their ignorance and indifference”.
The Gran Paradiso National Park Special Mention went to “Okavango”, by Dereck and Beverly Joubert, described as “askilfully narrated plot, with spectacular, poetic images that succeed in transforming the stories of individual species intoan allegory of the resilience of ecosystems threatened by desertification”.
The Youth Audience (for under-14’s) awarded the “Stambecco d’Oro Junior” Award to “Planète Méditerranée” by Gil Gébaïli – the story of an outstanding diving challenge deep into the waters of the Mediterranean. Lorenzo Riboni won the “CortoNatura” category competition with “La danza tra terra e cielo”. “The Frozen Kingdom of the Snow Leopard” by Frédéric Larrey won the “GPFF online” category: it was the most voted by the Festival’s online audience.