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2022 Program


For our 2nd Edition, we are screening seven films from around the world that centre on interrelated themes of Autonomy, Movement and the More-than-human.

We start on Tuesday morning in the Amazon with AUTONOMIA MARÓ, before tracing Timor-Leste’s healing springs in RESTORING THE SPIRIT. In the afternoon we head to Portuguese underwater territory with ABYSSAL, then downstream of Cambodia’s Lower Sesan 2 dam with BEYOND THE DAM’S RESERVOIR. On Wednesday, we swap for dryer lands, washing up on the Finnish Archipelago of ÖRÖ, and into the growing deserts of DROUGHTLANDS and STUDENT HUNGER: A SILENT CRISIS.

In their own way, each film explores people’s relationships to place, to power, to environment—and to people’s struggles to navigate and find their place within ever more precarious worlds. We thank all the filmmakers for submitting their wonderful films, and hope you enjoy this year’s shorts.

Note: Several of this year’s films are screening in-person only.

Autonomia Maró

Fábio Márcio Alkmin

In the Maró Territory, in the Amazonian region of Pará, the Borari and Arapium peoples are organising themselves in an autonomous way to contain deforestation and teach new generations about the decisive importance of the standing forest for the future of humanity.

Fábio M. Alkmin is a doctoral candidate in the Postgraduate Programme in Human Geography at the University of São Paulo, with a Master's degree and a degree in Geography from the same institution. He is currently doing a split-site doctoral at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), UK. His current area of interest is the Brazilian Amazon, especially in issues related to indigenous autonomy, climate justice, socio-environmental justice, regional inequalities and territorial issues involving indigenous peoples.

Restoring the Spirit

Lisa Palmer

Watch Restoring the Spirit from Wai Mata Films on Vimeo.

In Timor-Leste spring water is central to people’s connections to each other and the ancestral spirit world. Underground flows are the carriers of spirits and the providers of life and well-being to the living. Restoring the Spirit follows Simião, a university student, who had been very ill and had almost died when something had attacked him and taken his spirit. With the water’s help, the family had recovered it, and his spirit had been restored to his body. Through ceremony the debt to the ancestral spirits of these healing waters is repaid and connections to more distant coastal springs are honoured.

Lisa Palmer teaches and researches on indigenous environmental knowledge and practices at the University of Melbourne. She has published widely and is the author of an ethnography on people’s complex relations with water in Timor-Leste titled Water Politics and Spiritual Ecology: Custom, Environmental Governance and Development (2015, Routledge, London). Her most recent book is Island Encounters: Timor-Leste from the Outside in (2021, ANU Press). Working also through visual methods she has directed two films, Wild Honey: Caring for Bees in a Divided Land (2019, Ronin Films) and Holding Tightly: Custom and Healing in Timor-Leste (2021, Ronin Films).


Pedro F Neto & João Baptista

Which territories are yet to be annexed, which borders are yet to be defined? What is nature? Departing from the Portuguese odyssey in the Atlantic depths, ABYSSAL explores the present of that country as well as of humanity writ large. There is an epic side in this new expansionist endeavour. It all happens far from the view, in the darkness of the deep sea. Machines and robots, but also imagination and hope, invade places that until recently belonged to no one.

Pedro F Neto is an architect, anthropologist and filmmaker, research fellow at the ICS-U. Lisboa. His other most recent films are YOON (feature documentary, 2021) and Withering Refuge (essay, 2020).

João Baptista
’s work focuses on the sea, located at the intersection of geography and anthropology. He is a research fellow at the ICS-U. Lisboa.

Beyond the Dam's Reservoir

W. Nathan Green & Polen Ly

Beyond the Dam's Reservoir documents social and environmental changes associated with the construction of the Lower Sesan 2 dam in Cambodia, the country's largest hydroelectric dam project. It follows fishing communities, activists, and NGO workers who have been intimately involved in advocating for more socially and environmentally just development.

W. Nathan Green is Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography, National University of Singapore. His scholarship critically examines the political ecology of agrarian finance and infrastructure in Southeast Asia, focusing particularly on Cambodia.

Polen Ly
is a Cambodian film director. He has made numerous short films, many of which have won accolades in international film festivals. His movies portray the intimate experiences of social and environmental change in Cambodia.

Student Hunger: A Silent Crisis

Jane Dyson & Kate Jessop

A significant proportion of students at Australian universities face difficulties accessing sufficient and nutritious food. Many institutions and universities across the country do not have programs or policies in place to support food insecure students. In Student Hunger: A Silent Crisis, we’ve brought together our own research with students in Victoria with current research on food insecurity in universities around the world to start a conversation about this silent yet critical issue. 

Learn more at www.studentfoodinsecurity.com.

Jane Dyson is an Associate Professor in Human Geography at the University of Melbourne. Her long-term research in the Indian Himalayas on childhood and youth, work, politics and gender has been presented in her book (Working Childhoods CUP 2014), journals in Geography and Anthropology, and her two award-winning films, Lifelines (2014) and Spirit (2019).

Kate Jessop is a multi award-winning animation filmmaker whose work spans across narrative shorts, artists’ film and comedy. She represented the UK in the Best of Women in Film&TV, was a Virgin Media Shorts Finalist & a Berlinale Talents 2019 participant both as director & with her comedy series Tales From Pussy Willow in the Project Lab, which has subsequently been picked up for production by Hipster Films. She has exhibited extensively internationally, undertaking artist residencies in Berlin, Istanbul and Reykjavik. She is a Senior Lecturer in Animation & has taught in China.

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