Today, at the International Tourism Exchange (Internationale Tourismus-Börse ITB) in Berlin, the Studienkreis für Tourismus und Entwicklung (Institute for Tourism and Development ) announced the winners of the TOURA D'OR 2008. In the category "information films and documentaries" two entries were awarded with the TOURA D'OR trophy: the ARTE production Chile - Die Stimmen der Wüste (Chile - Voices of the Desert) and the documentary Journey of a Red Fridge by Lunam Docs, which is set in Nepal. The Special Award for educational films, awarded by the Konferenz der Landesfilmdienste (Conference of Regional Film Services) goes to Die Sklavenstraße von Ouidah (The Slave Route of Ouidah), a documentary by bce film / Bavarian Broadcasting.
The "TOURA D'OR Film Contest Sustainable Tourism", bianually held since 1990, awards trophies to film and TV productions which promote socially responsible, environmentally friendly and thus sustainable tourism.
A total of 55 film productions were submitted in 2008. "We are particularly pleased to have had very different kinds of entries, which dealt with the subject of the contest in a very committed and creative manner, and from very different perspectives," said Studienkreis Managing Director Wibke Reger. More than half of the films dealt with tourism issues in developing countries and newly industrurialized countries.
In Chile - Voices of the Desert (ARTE-Strasbourg, Series: "The new Paradises," 43 minutes, German/French, 2008), Pascal Vasselin introduces viewers of those regions which, from a touristy perspective, have not been taken too much note of. He manages to draw a very graphic picture of the high mountain desert of Atacama.
The government of Chile has left it to the local indigenous people to set up and take care of nature parks in the wilderness. They are thus able to control the increasing tourism themselves - and also the growing prosperity that comes with it. The film describes the objectives of the local guides, and the instruments they choose in order to ensure that the exploration of the Atacama happens in a careful and sustainable manner. In several statements indigenous people allow insights into their daily lives which have come to be dominated by tourism. Their efforts to maintain a balance between the necessary conservation of nature and the soaring tourism is evident. People's changing living and working conditions are well described.
Another TOURA D'OR 2008 went to the film Journey of a Red Fridge by Lunam Docs from Novi Sad in Serbia (52 minutes, Nepali with English subtitles, 2007). The documentary film-maker couple Natasa and Lucian Muntean share a story with the audience that may strike as absurd: From the heights of the Himalayas, 17-year-old Hari Prasad Rai carries a big red fridge down into the valley to have it repaired.
The Nepalese scenery in which the young man carries his heavy load over a period of several days is inhospitable and at the same time so beautiful that it seems surreal. The film fascinates due to the might of the images, the excellent camera work, the editing, the music which has been used sparingly, the original sound and the often surprising conversations by the wayside.
Hari Rai talks about his life as a porter in a modest, self-critical and humorous way. At the age of 14 he started to work as a porter to earn money for his education - and this tour is also meant to help him finance his studies which he has taken up in the meantime. By joining him along his way we learn a lot about people's living conditions in the Himalayas, about the clash between tradition and modernity, and about the tourists whose luggage Hari carried. In a few sentences about Western tourists, the young Nepali holds a mirror to the western audience. In a surprising, captivating and touching manner the story shows the opportunities as well as the dark sides associated with tourism.
The Special Award for educational films, awarded by the Konferenz der Landesfilmdienste (Conference of Regional Film Services), goes to the contest entry Die Sklavenstraße von Ouidah (The Slave Route of Ouidah) by Bettina Ehrhardt (bce film / Bayerischer Rundfunk, Kompass-Auslandsreportage, 28 minutes, German, 2008). According to the jury, the author has managed to produce an exceptional documentary which shows the history of the slave trade from Africa to America and recent efforts to come to terms with this sorrowful theme.
Ouidah is a place in the West African state of Benin. Important trade routes from all over the region used to lead to this place. At that time, slaves were deported to the coast under inhumane conditions in order to be shipped across the Atlantic by savvy traders. Little known aspects of slavery are addressed: The role of local chiefs and middlemen who supported the slave trade, and the role of European slave traders who mingled with the local population and produced a kind of Euro-African upper class.
Today, local people as well as foreign tourists - among them many descendants of African slaves - visit the "Gate of no Return" and other memorial sites, learn about the history of the slave trade and commemorate the suffering of the people who were shipped from this place as late as the 19th century. It is an emotionally moving film that graphically portrays a "place of remembrance and reconciliation".
In her speech in honour of the winners, Evelyn Huhmann-Durra, member of the jury and editor with "VOX Film- und Fernseh-GmbH" emphasized: "The TOURA D'OR acknowledges films that manage to emotionally familiarise the audience with a different country and its people; that reduce anxieties and encourage people to get closer to what they may consider as strange."
Responsible for the
text: Klaus Betz