Prize-winning director focused on “culture of denial”

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An award for films that “go to the heart of European public debate” has this year been won by Woman at War, which tells the story of an “environmentalist who has turned very radical”, in the words of the film’s Icelandic director Benedikt Erlingsson.

Erlingsson said in an interview for the European Parliament, which awards the Lux Prize, that the film attacks the “culture of denial” that exists around climate change as well as “how easily environmentalists can be categories as enemies of the state”.

“It’s about democracy, spin media, and this environmental fight and the right of people to act even if you break the rules,” Erlingsson said.

The competition is open to films made in the EU, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Montenegro and Norway. Woman at War is a co-production of Iceland, France and the Ukraine. According to its director it is an “ecological arthouse action thriller with a lot of music”.

Woman at War won a vote against two other finalists: The Other Side of Everything, a documentary about nationalism by Serbian director Mila Turajlic, which is centred around a family in Serbia, and Styx, a fictional film by Austrian director Wolfgang Fischer that is about a sailor who comes into close contact with a boat full of refugees.

The films “tackle three key themes for the future of Europe: the risks associated with extreme nationalism, the urgency of acting to save the environment and the need to find coherent and cohesive responses to the migration issue,” said Parliament president Antonio Tajani.

“Differing in genre and subject, these films have an important point in common: they tell stories of strong women who are determined to change the status quo.”

Words: Craig Nicholson
Photo: Benoit Bourgouis

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