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Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed’s MY OCTOPUS TEACHER took home the EarthxFilm Best Feature Film Jury Prize and $5000

Environmental Film Festival EarthxFilm 2020 Announced Filmmaker Awards

Impact Awards go to Maria Wilhelm's AKASHINGA: THE BRAVE ONES, Christopher Smith's CURRENT SEA, Jared P. Scott's THE GREAT GREEN WALL, and Alexander John Glustrom's MOSSVILLE: WHEN GREAT TREES FALL

Published on May 01, 2020

EarthxFilm, presented by EarthX, announced this year’s filmmaker award winners and grant recipients, and gave away $20,000 in a virtual presentation on Sunday, April 26.

The award-winning films were led by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed’s MY OCTOPUS TEACHER, which took home the EarthxFilm Best Feature Film Jury Prize and $5000, and Allison Otto and Maria Clinton’s THE LOVE BUGS was EarthxFilm’s Best Short Film Jury Prize and received $3000.

EarthxFilm Impact Awards and $2000 each went to Maria Wilhelm’s AKASHINGA: THE BRAVE ONES, Christopher Smith’s CURRENT SEA, Jared P. Scott’s THE GREAT GREEN WALL, and Alexander John Glustrom’s MOSSVILLE: WHEN GREAT TREES FALL.

David Freid received the Creative Storytelling Award and $1000 for his films FERRYMAN AT THE WALL, THE RIVER IS ME, NOBODY DIES IN LONGYEARBYN. Environmentally-focused organizations received grants of $1500 thanks to Earth Catalyst Awards bestowed upon Alizé Carrère’s ADAPTATION and Melissa Leah’s RAISING KHAN. A Special Mention for Best Cinematography was noted for Beverly and Dereck Joubert’s OKAVANGO: RIVER OF DREAMS, lauding the work of Dereck Joubert and Taylor Turner on the film.

In addition, $4500 was Awarded to youth ages 11-22 in the Planet911 Challenge given out at the virtual Awards Ceremony on Earth Day.

Michael Cain, Co-Founder and President of EarthxFilm, said, “EarthxFilm is proud to be a part of these films’ journeys. Co-founder Trammell S. Crow and EarthX believe that by supporting storytellers and their subjects we have an opportunity to create real change. Our very reason to exist is to support their vision and their missions! This ‘pivot’ allowed us to expand beyond Texas and affect global change as well.”

EarthxFilm’s Artistic Director, David Holbrooke, added, “It was odd but exciting to see all the award winners gather for this year’s EarthxFilm Awards ceremony on our computer screens. We had winners join us from Mossville, Louisiana to Zimbabwe, all of whom are doing critical work on the environment. It wasn’t easy to pivot from our terrestrial festival to a virtual one, but it worked. While we look forward to being able to gather again and meet these wonderful filmmakers and their remarkable characters in person, we are really heartened by what we pulled off with EarthxFilm 2020.”

Like many film festivals, due to the pandemic, EarthxFilm was forced to pivot to a virtual version of what has become a major yearly event for environmentally-focused documentary filmmakers, as well as the scientists, activists, and citizens on the front lines of eco-stories all over the globe. However, if anything, the film festival utilized the ability to access those storytellers, and environmental leaders to a greater extent than ever before by having them tune in virtually.

Notable virtual attendees for the festival who participated in panels, intros, Q/As and musical performances included Jane Fonda, EarthxFilm alumni Louie Psihoyos (RACING EXTINCTION, THE GAME CHANGERS), Danni Washington, Jeff Orlowski (CHASING CORAL), Leilani Münter (RACING EXTINCTION), and Slater Jewell-Kemker (YOUTH UNSTOPPABLE). They joined filmmakers, music artists, and film subjects from this year’s film presentations, including Matthew Modine (RIPPLE EFFECT), Dereck and Beverly Joubert (OKAVANGO: RIVER OF DREAMS), N’Dambi and Classic Roots (TURNING TABLES).

The virtual EarthxFilm festival presentation also emphasized the EarthXR programming which has become not simply an integral part of the film festival but in many ways one of the anticipated highlights each year. In addition, music and dance were added (including an Opening Night presentation of EARTHXDANCE, a live-streamed DJ set featuring Classic Roots, a Toronto-based music producer and performer), joining the films, panels, and post-screening conversations to truly duplicate the “festival” experience that EarthxFilm has become known for.

2020 EarthxFilm Award Winners

MY OCTOPUS TEACHER – Best Feature Award
Directors: Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed

THE LOVE BUGS – Best Short Film
Directors: Alison Otto, Maria Clinton

Director: Alexander John Glustrom

CURRENT SEA – Impact Award
Director: Christopher Smith

Director: Jared P. Scott

Director: Maria Wilhelm 

FERRYMAN AT THE WALL – Creative Storytelling Award
Director: David Freid

RAISING KHAN – Earth Catalyst Award
Director: Melissa Leah

ADAPTATION – Earth Catalyst Award
Director: Alizé Carrère

OKAVANGO: RIVER OF DREAMS – Feature Jury Special Mention: Best Cinematography
Directors:  Beverly Joubert, Dereck Joubert
Cinematographers: Dereck Joubert, Taylor Turner

Senior Writer