Nic and Nkiru Niemann posing on an electronic motorcycle during the opening of the Green Me Film Festival in Berlin

The Green Me Film Festival was founded in 2007 by Nicolai Niemann and Donald Houwer starting with a first lounge the following year. Nic Niemann became the managing director and festival president when Donald Houwer left the organisation in 2012.

His wife, Nkiru Niemann, is a graduate of theatre arts and experienced in the international circuit. She is the Director International Affairs & Production at Green Me and has brought the festival to several international locations, including her native Nigeria, where Mundus maris was able to support the maiden event last year. Nkiru aims at perfection in everything, even if it seems unattainable.The couple is the heart and soul of the Green Me International Film Festival for Sustainability.

Q: The Green Me Film Festival for Sustainability on Berlin has come a long way during the 10 years of its existence. What have you learnt on the way?

Nic and Nkiru Niemann posing on an electronic motorcycle during the opening of the Green Me Film Festival in BerlinA: The Green Me Festival was initiated in 2008 and has over the years transformed from a lounge to a full blown film festival; where movies with ecological related themes are screened; congress/panels are held; workshops are organised; companies and NGOs represent themselves and exhibite their products at the film market. The Green Me Festival has also grown from a national festival to an international festival and offers a platform for ecological movies from all over the world to be screened and evaluated. Finalising the event each year is the award night, during which the best movies from different categories receive awards.

Q: Are you finding more open ears and eyes for the concerns about sustainable living with the film industry and the general public over the years?

A: The festival’s expansion and globalisation could be directly linked to the responses it receives from the general public. Green Me Festival won the 'Earth Day Award‘ in the USA in 2013 and got invited to the USA by the German Ambassador in Los Angeles. With this invitation, we were able to partake in the German Current in Los Angeles and also hold two events during the visit. It is also through responses from the general public that we got invited in 2016 to participate in the Iran International Green Film Festival. With each festival, we reach a higher audience. Filmmakers are also ever willing to submit their films into the festival competition and the audience are increasingly motivated to attend the festival.

Nic Niemann summarises the history of Green Me at the 2017 GalaQ: What do you see as your greatest achievement? 

A: The Green Me Festival has achieved a lot in its 10 years of existence. We would say our greatest achievement so far is being able to globalise our outreach. The festival’s objective is to contribute to ecological preservation, which we do through three different means: Film, Congress & Marketplace. We promote movies that champion this environmental course, we hold panels, forums and workshops where lectures are delivered on different forms of environmental degradation, prevention mechanism and most importantly it’s avoidance. We present products and services that are relevant to environmental preservation in the Marketplace. Our focus is to create awareness to environmental crises and encourage individual contribution to nature preservation. By globalising the festival, we have created an international platform to spread our message round the globe. Other achievements are as follows: The festival honours filmmakers with the Green Me Film Award, which comes in prize money and focuses on the green film genre. With the award money, we encourage filmakers to make more environmentally friendly movies.  

Q: Last year's motto "Ocean, Life, Water" placed particular emphasis on the ocean, the origin of life, and how to protect it more effectively. That was when Mundus maris became a first time supporter. What makes you passionate about the ocean?

A: Green Me Festival is not only passionate about the ocean, we are rather very passionate about the four basic elements of the universe: Earth, Water, Air, Fire. In 2015 the festival topic was ‚Soil/Soul/Food‘, in 2016 the topic was ‚Ocean/Life/Water‘, our topic for this year is ‚Climate/Joy/Air‘,  we plan on framing our topic for 2018 around ‚Fire‘. We are working on tackling these elements one after the other and through the relevant films reveal the sources of pollution in the different elements and possible solutions to solving these problems.

Q: What do you see as film producers and festival organisers as the greatest threats and challenges to the ocean you can address with your means?

Nic and Nkiru Niemann with the Delegation of the Iranian Environment Festival, Berlin 2017A:  Through our last year’s theme ‚Ocean, Life, Water‘, the submitted films exposed our audience to various forms of threats facing the ocean. Through these films, we got an insight into the destructions of the aquamarine and aquatic animals. Most of these threats are directly or indirectly manmade. Some of these threats are ’termination of aquatic lives’, Oceanic sound pollution’ ‚Oceanic plastic pollution‘ etc. We believe each threat poses its immediate danger to the ocean and working on preventing all the threats and challenges through the film medium will go a long way in addressing the problems.

Q: Will there be room for locally or regionally produced films in future editions in your international circuit, e.g. from Africa or Latin America? Do you work with film makers from these regions already?

A: We are working towards locally and regionally produced films playing a major role in our international circuit. We have already made our debut in Africa, starting with Nigeria where we held a successful Green Me Festival last year. We received an outstanding number of film entries from Nigerian producers and the winning film was screened at the Berlin festival to our international guests. We are also working towards extending our network to other African countries as well as Latin America.

Q: Moving pictures telling stories that matter can be a strong force for change and help reconnect people's hearts and minds to the ocean, to ecosystems and to fellow-citizens around the globe. What role does access to scientific results play for your work?

A: Scientific results play a major role in our work. It is through the access to scientific results that the impact of global warming has been made public. Equipped with the knowledge of the impending danger posed by global warming, filmmakers are able to produce relevant films depicting the threat and possible solutions. 

Q: What are you planning next?

A: The Green Me Festival got globalised in 2016 and visited four continents and five cities including Berlin, Germany; Lagos, Nigeria; Tehran, Iran; Cannes, France; and Los Angeles, USA. We plan to keep this globalisation sustainable by not only revisiting these cities, but by extending our outreach to the rest of the continents and to more cities. 

MM: thanks for sharing your views and we look forward to continue our collaboration.

Pictures by CE Nauen. Click here for impressions about the Green Me Film Festival by Mundus maris and here for the Blog of the festival.