From 27 to 29 January the green carpet was rolled out in the CinemaxX in Berlin, the German capital, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Green Me Film Festival. This year's motto was Climate, Joy, Air. Berlin's mayor, Michael Müller (right), served as patron and attended the opening.

He was welcomed by Nic Niemann, the festival founder and president.

The mayor said how proud he was to have the Green Me Film Festival by now for 10 years in the city and that he welcomed its recently started international outreach.

The nice surprise was a video address by Prince Albert II of Monaco, well-known supporter of marine protection and an internationally recognised voice to translate our current insights about the ocean and the climate into urgent action.

He had only days before staged a big environment event at the large boating fair in Düsseldorf (BOOT). Prince Albert very explicitly underscored the importance of the Green Me Film Festival and closed his address with a call for action.

PrinceAlbertIIofMonacoFittingly then, the opening film was "Before the Flood" with Leonardo DiCaprio. The open access version of the film has already made waves by being watched by more than 300,000 people on the internet. But, of course, the large-screen version is yet something else!

More than 40 films were shown in the competition in 10 categories, including one for students of film schools. It was a hard act to follow and watch at least some of the interesting films. In three parallel streams in spacious cinemas, the films were projected until the early morning hours.

Saturday's main sessions started out at 10h with Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier's "Ice Age 4" for kids of all ages, "DeGrowth" by Luis and Manuel Picazo Casariego and a replay of Fisher Steven's "Before the Flood".

For two days, Saturday and Sunday, Mundus maris staffed a well-visited stand right at the entry of the festival area in what was called the market place of ideas.

We placed emphasis on sharing information about the current state of threats to the ocean and the encouraging signs of what could be done about them. As human CO2 emissions are at an all-time high, the ocean becomes more acidic - bad news for all organisms that have calcareous skeletons, such as coral, planktonic algae producing much of the oxygen we breathe, bivalves and marine snails. Two glass beakers with normal and acidic water illustrated the point. The shell in the acidic water started to disintegrate slowly. Several visitors had their own ideas on how to reduce CO2 emissions.

IlinaPerianovaSisterWe also informed about the widespread overfishing that already leads for lower annual catches since the mid-nineties.

We distributed fish rulers indicating the minimum length at which e.g. commercial fish species reproduce in the North Sea and the Baltic. As the Baltic has brackish water, a stress factor for the fish, they do not grow to the same size as in the North Sea and also start reproducing at a smaller size. This way, people can make conscious purchasing decisions buying only fish that have reproduced at least once.

Everybody was also happy to learn that a lot more could be fished sustainably, if stocks were allowed to recover their biomass to levels before massive overfishing.

Among the visitors at our stand were e.g. teachers and concerned parents, photographers and young scientists. We also had a visit of Bulgarian film makers Ilina Perianova and her sister (to the right) who had the film "The Snow Girl" about a Russian fairy tale in the shortfilm competition segment. 

Cornelia E Nauen of Mundus maris poses in front of the sponsorship wallQuite a number of visitors at our stand followed the invitation to make a pledge to the ocean. The pledges ranged from not to use one-way plastic bags for a year, not to buy canned tuna for a year to help stocks recover from overfishing, disseminate information about the ocean, learn more about wonderful marine creatures, such as orcas etc.

We took a picture of the person making the pledge and sent it to them as a souvenir to keep their promise in mind.

Mundus maris was among this year's sponsors of the Festival. On Saturday afternoon, we also convened a panel under the title "Healthy Ocean, Healthy Planet".

The panel followed the screening of the documentary "Sonic Sea" directed by Daniel Hinerfeld and Michelle Dougherty published in 2016. Sonic Sea is about the devastating impact of industrial and military ocean noice on whales and other marine life.

The film begins with a mystery: the unexplained beaching and mass mortality of several species of whales in the Bahamas in March 2000. As the mystery unfolds, the fim explores the critical role of sound in the sea and the sudden, dramatic changes human activities are inflicting on the ocean's delicate acoustic habitat - changes that threaten the ability of whales to find mates, feed normally and generally prosper. The film also shows the essential role of scientists to find out the reasons behind the mystery and civil society organisations using the research results to press for change for the better.

The panel (from left to right), Markus Knigge, Cornelia E Nauen, Rainer FroeseThat set the scene for the panel composed of Dr. Rainer Froese, senior scientist at GEOMAR in Kiel, and Markus Knigge, senior advisor to the European Marine Programme of Pew Charitable Trusts. Moderation was by Dr. Cornelia E Nauen of Mundus maris. She introduced the invited speakers and prompted them to speak about what they saw as major threats to the integrity of life in the ocean.

Dr. Froese explained that overfishing had taken a heavy toll on marine resources. Less than 10% of big fish were left in the North Atlantic after hundred years of unslaught. The biomasses were so low that the fish could not produce the maximum sustainable yield, the declared objective of the reformed European Common Fisheries Policy. Many in the sector had already lost their jobs or found it difficult to continue making a living from fishing, especially coastal small-scale fishers. He told the audience about a recent study by an international research team he had headed to assess in more detail 397 stocks of 120 exploited species in European waters.

To be able to do that he had developed a new methodology which was less data-hungry than traditional approaches, but rather robust. To the great surprise the scientists had found that over and above current catches of between seven and eight million tons per year, these stocks could yield another five million tons on a sustainable basis, if left to recover from their historically low population sizes.

Fashion designer Inga Lieckfeldt handed over the prize for Raimond Waltenberg's short documentary 'Operation Erdklima'That's very hopeful, but it means stopping overfishing and giving the fish stocks a few years of break with light or no fishing. That would also be very good news for the climate and coastal fishers in developing countries. It would mean a much reduced need to go fishing into every last corner of the ocean, often connected with suspicion of illegal fishing and save a lot of CO2 emissions from dirty marine fuels.

At this point, it was Markus Knigge's turn to comment. He shared his experience in rallying civil society organisations from across the European Union during the three-year long consultative process. The review of the policy takes place every 10 years. The initial assessment by the European Commission had been very critical. It was then and, realising the previous attempts at reform had largely failed, that getting almost 200 NGOs to speak up and accompany this latest reform process made a difference. The NGOs relied a lot on research results in marshalling their arguments, but it was the additional push in the public, in the institutions and in committee meetings that helped to give the science a better hearing. It was this intense way of accompanying the political process that led to the adoption of the reformed European Common Fisheries Policy in 2013.

This was a step in the right direction, Cornelia Nauen pointed out, however, the big challenge now was implementation and enforcement. Lots of exceptions to the rules in several fisheries were undermining the potential benefits of the reformed policy in addition to reducing transparency and clarity of the rules.

TV moderator and actress Caroline Beil chaired the Joy Jury and delivered the laudatio for 'Passion for Planet'That was also the prompt to give room for questions and comments from the public. Questions revolved around what ordinary citizens could do, whether labels were a good guide for purchasing decisions and how much time might be needed to recover European stocks. Dr. Froese reported that he was now working on a new study to look precisely into how much time would be needed to rebuild the populations to 50%, 70% or 90% of the level at which they could produce the maximum on a sustainable basis and taking into account species interactions within the ecosystem. Managing such a transition would certainly be difficult, but the best hope to recover the fish and the fishery.

Speakers and moderator coincided to caution not to believe blindly in labels. Unfortunately, according to a recent analysis, the most wide-spread blue label of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) was also given to products from badly overfished species in 30% of the certification cases. But for whole, filleted and beheaded fish in the market, the fish rulers distributed were enabling safe decisions.

That was a good closure to a well-informed exchange. The last word was a big thank you to the panelists and the public and then it was already time for the curtain of the next film. 

The Gala on Sunday night took place in the festive environment of the Bar Jeder Vernunft tent. Framed by live music guests were welcomed. Moderated by Melissa Khalaj in a spirited way, the invited guests and VIPs enjoyed the entertaining programme and company.

Tom Heineman and his wife Lotte La Cour behind the camera won the prize in the category Air with 'The carbon crooks'Nic Niemann gave a short overview about how the festival had developed over the last 10 years, since 2016 with a big international push that took the Festival to Lagos, Teheran, Cannes and Los Angeles, each as much as possible with a local flavour to it. In that occasion the Green Me team had been invited to Iran to discover the biggest environment film festival in the world that took place in many different locations across the country. The partnership agreement with the Iranian public institutions and collaboration with artists was a source of hope for future developments. 

Then, finally, it was the time of the juries in presenting the results of their work in the different categories and deliver the laudatio for the winners. Just a few highlights with links to the film trailers to those not having had a chance to watch them at the festival:

The winner in the kids category was "Ice Age 4" by Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier. One of the most beloved trios in film history, Manny, Diego and Sid won the jury's hearts and minds.

Volker Langhoff conducted a workshop on short film production for students of several film schools and universities. The team of STARTER, the Berlin-based Theater School for Film and TV won first prize.

"Operation Erdklima" directed by Raimund Waltenberg and produced by ARTE for the Climate Summit in Paris, end 2015, won in the category short film. 

The winners"Before the Flood", the opening film of the festival, was also the winner in the categoy Climate. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio the film directed by Fisher Stevens was watched by 300,000 visitors, when it was first released free on the internet in 2016. 

The jury for the Joy competition was chaired by tv moderator and actress Caroline Beil. She gave the laudatio for the winner "Passion for Planet", a documentary about wildlife by the best nature photographers around the world directed by Werner Schuessler. The jury noted that the film teams had covered many many air miles and thus produced a big carbon footprint, but was convinced in the end by the stunning images.

Model Sara Nuru chaired the jury for the Air competition who fell for "The carbon crooks" by independent Danish director Tom Heineman and his camera-wielding wife Lotte La Cour. The documentary uncovers dirty games behind the trade with carbon certificates. When the second part of the Kyoto Protocol expired, all ratifying countries guaranteed that they would cut down their carbon emissions and curb greenhouse gasses. Except - not all did. One of the solutions was to buy and sell carbon credits. In other words, a rich country missing its target could buy carbon credits from a poor one to pay for development. A closer look shows, it's at least partially hocus-pocus.

Winners in five more categories were honoured during the gala and asked to all come back on stage for a final foto.

Get more information here by downloading this year's programme. See also the interview with Festival President Nic Niemann and his wife and Director International Affairs & Production, Nkiru.