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Once Again, DREFF and DCEFF’s Dominican Night Celebrate Environment and Promote Its Sustainable Use

March 24, 2017

Washington DC- As part of the DC Environmental Film Festival (DCEFF), the Dominican Republic Environmental Film Festival (DREFF) held its annual Dominican Night, a showcase of documentaries produced on the island by Dominican filmmakers, on Thursday, March 23 at the E Street Cinema in the nation’s capital. Dozens of moviegoers, filmmakers and special guests came out to watch highly-anticipated screenings of the short film Ciclos, winner of the 2016 Globo Verde Dominicano Award, by Hansel Ureña Espósito; Death by a Thousand Cuts, directed by Juan Mejia and Jake Kheel; and Site of Sites, by Natalia Cabral and Oriol Estrada.

The evening was part of DREFF’s efforts to contribute to the enrichment of the Dominican Republic’s filmmaking culture and take its particular brand of film to a broader international audience , as explained by GFDD and DREFF representatives: “The Dominican Republic Environmental Film Festival has been closely collaborating with DCEFF for the past six years and continues to work to achieve its aims of offering information and projects that contribute to the appreciation of the Dominican environment and promote its sustainable use, while promoting Dominican filmmaking internationally and providing development opportunities to young filmmakers in the country.”

María Victoria Abreu, DREFF Programming Director, thanked all the Dominican Night attendees and directors “for joining us to celebrate Dominican filmmaking, and I look forward to holding the event with DCEFF again next year”.

The event was attended by representatives of the Dominican Embassy in Washington DC and various organizations that work on issues related to the Dominican-Haitian border, accompanied by GFDD’s Projects and ICT Director, Semiramis de Miranda, and other GFDD and DREFF staff members.

Ciclos, a short film depicting one man’s artistic efforts to save turtles and clean up beaches in the Dominican Republic, was showed first. Next was Death by a Thousand Cuts, a story about the brutal murder of a Dominican park ranger by a Haitian charcoal maker on the border of the two countries. Finally came Site of Sites, a lighthearted documentary tracing the everyday lives of people on a private resort where artificial beaches are being built.

Following the screening of each film, the directors had a chance to speak about their movies and to field questions from the audience.

When asked about how he developed the motivation for his film, Ciclos director Ureña says, “It really happened by coincidence. At the time I was doing some filming for another movie of mine, also related to the environment. By chance, I met this man, who really inspired me and who was helping the environment through artwork- by making turtle figurines out of the very glass that was killing turtles on Dominican beaches. I always wanted to make a film about the issue of trash in the Dominican Republic and I knew as soon as I met this man that I had to tell that story through his artistic efforts.”

After the screening of Death by a Thousand Cuts, the film’s director, Kheel, responded to several questions concerning his film, about Dominican-Haitian relations in a broader context and if he envisions opportunities to improve ties between the two countries. Cabral, director of Site of Sites, spoke about the candid depictions of her film’s characters and its unintended message about the importance of eco-diversity and environmentalism.

Since its creation in 2011, the Dominican Republic Environmental Film Festival – an initiative of the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) and the Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (Funglode) – provides the Dominican public with a platform for knowledge and debate on environmental and sustainable development issues as well as related challenges and best practices, while celebrating the Dominican Republic’s unique natural beauty and wealth.

The Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital (DCEFF) is the world’s most important event for premiering environmental films. Every March in Washington, DC, the Festival screens more than 150 films to an audience of more than 33,000 people. DCEFF’s programming includes panels and social events, plus screenings in local museums, embassies, universities, libraries, and theaters. Founded in 1993, DCEFF is the largest and longest-running environmental film festival in the United States. It has become an important, participatory cultural event both during the festival and throughout the rest of the year.

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