(Mir s Tuleni) – Peace With The Seals

The Margaret Meade Film and Video Festival is back at AUC with a new group of International movies; from Australia, Swaziland, Himalayas, Finland, Czech Republic, Italy, China, Ireland, Abkhazia, the Netherlands, Laos and Papua New Guinea.     peace with the seals 2

Recently I went to see one of the movies showing at the university, and that was “Peace with the Seals”. The movie is a collaborated production between Italy and the Czech Republic and was first shown in 2007.

The movie is trying to explain that the interaction of humans living in the Mediterranean during the 20th century with the seals,  and their exploitation lead to the extinction of the Mediterranean Monk seal.

Through the movie the director and the film makers meet with marine biologists, philosophers as well as beachgoers on the Mediterranean shores who have supplanted the seals lead them to believe that the only monk seals left are those preserved in Coppola’s extensive collection of archival footage; as said in the brochure of the (MMFVF).

 In doing so the movie follows marine biologist and Italian filmmaker Emanuele Coppola and the Czech director Miloslav Novak, on their journey to explore what happened to the Mediterranean Monk seal and to find any trace for it. 

 The documentary begins with some sort of weird dream that the director learns about the seals and later finds out about it in a brochure and goes on a trip to several places to learn about what happened to it. They first arrive in Sardinia, to meet with the Sardinian seal and later they travel to Turkey.

 The movie was a combination of old archival footage, new footage and some graphics that portrayed the weird dreams the director was having about seals.

 Some other distractions were the sound of the narrator talking about the story “War with the Newts” that was not explained in the movie, leaving the viewer confused about how the story is related to the story until some point where you understand that the Newts are representing the humans taking over the territory where the seals live and disturbing their environment. 

The movie  followed the story of a seal Ulysses a baby seal, who was tossed ceremoniously into the famous Di Trevi fountain by Italian photographer Federico Patellani,  in front of snapping flashbulbs and clapping onlookers.peace with the seals 3

The archival film shows the event that took place in 1951 where  the crowd gathered around the fountain, and as the frightened seal is pulled from the water, with the commentator chuckling , that the seal was lifted off to do more sightseeing.

The film then follows the story of another seal: Gaston, who was carried out of zoo captivity by a flood.According to the Prague Zoo director,  Gaston became “the most famous animal on earth” after he managed to reach Germany during a devastating flood. At the height of his fame, Gaston was adopted by the former Prime Minister Gross; after Gaston’s death, the Prague Zoo erected a statue in his memory.

Unsuccessful rescue workers later share their firm observations that it was not a break for freedom, but rather that he was swept helplessly out to sea, panicking because he was suddenly in a “strange environment.”peace with the seals 4

The movie has succeeded in showing  the growing European culture of tanning, with the spreading of shores across the Mediterranean lead to the extinction of the seals and the destruction of their habitat.

peace with the seals 5‘Peace with the Seals’, also showed that the exploitation of the seals and other animals such as dolphins in wars, led to near extinction. 

However, the movie didn’t offer a real solution to the problem, although we could say that it did bring to the viewers attention the problem facing the environment due to our actions.

The Margaret Meade Film and Video Festival will continue to show moves at the AUC New campus in Mansour Hall , and at Ewart  Hall in the Old Campus. 

The movie ‘Bomb Harvest’ (Laos/Australia) will be showing at Mansour Hall on 1 November at 5:30 p.m. ‘Trobraind Cricket: An Indigenous Response To Colonialism’ (Papua New Guinea) will also be showing there on 4 November at 3:30p.m.

The festival ends on 5 November with ‘Umbrella’ (China); at the Old campus at 6:30p.m. 

-By Mennatallah Fouad Youssef

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