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Golden Gazelle winners close the Abu Dhabi International Environmental Film Festival

The Abu Dhabi International Environmental Film Festival opened on Saturday and drew to a close yesterday.

The inaugural Abu Dhabi International Environmental Film Festival drew to a close yesterday.

The festival opened last Saturday with Gus van Sant's controversial fracking drama, Promised Land, starring Matt Damon, and was due to close 34 films later with the Oscar-nominated seafaring drama, Kon Tiki.

But becauseKon Tiki - about the real-life attempt to cross the Pacific on a balsa-wood boat - had already been shown in cinemas, the show was cancelled.

Instead the organisers closed the event by screening the winners of the festival's Golden Gazelle awards, which were announced at the Abu Dhabi Theatre last night.

The main prize of US$40,000 (Dh146,920) in the feature competition went to the Turkish drama, A Few Brave People, a documentary about plans to build dams in the Black Sea region and the efforts of local villagers to stop them.

In the same category, the Special Jury Prize of $20,000 went to the German-Romanian film, Close to Heaven, which tells the story of a mountain shepherd, Dumitru Stanciu.

In the festival's Emirates competition, which invited productions documenting environmental issues of the UAE, the main prize go to Green Water by Hayan Ismail, while the Jury Prize went to Cloud Seeding, a documentary by the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology.

Prizes totalling Dh240,000 were awarded in the Emirates competition.

Alongside Promised Land, there were other regional premieres at the festival, including two documentaries - Chimpanzee and African Cats - from Disney's new nature documentary label. Films were selected from 170 submitted from more than 40 countries.

"The festival is the fruit of our hard work in the UAE so far, in realising the vision of Abu Dhabi as the capital city for environmental work on Gulf, pan-Arab and world levels," said Mohammad Al Hamadi, the festival president.

"However, it is just the first step in a very long and strenuous journey that is inspired by the festival's slogan, 'Dreaming of Earth as a better place for life'. "

Mohammad Monier, ADIEFF's executive president, said: "Art has proven to be an effective means of communication with all segments of society, and has an influential impact on changing the behaviour of individuals for the better."

aritman@thenational.ae

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