Beixi Moshuo (Behemoth), by Zhao Liang was awarded the 2015 Green Drop Award at the 72nd Venice Film Festival. This prize is awarded to the movie best representing the values of ecology and environmental sustainability.
The jury, composed of Remo Girone (actor), Sebastiano Somma (actor), Paola Comin (public relations) and Lucia Grenna (Connect4Climate programme director – World Bank Group), recognized this movie for its poetic reflection on the unsustainable development of China, and industrialised societies in general.
“Men, women, environment, and nature are shown being sacrificed in the name of progress,” the organisers said, “with a final twist that turns out to be non-existent. In this retelling of Dante’s journey adapted into Chinese, there is no salvation but moral teaching – a warning for viewers of every part of the globe.”
Inspiration from Dante’s Divine Comedy
In The Divine Comedy, Dante travels in his dreams through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. In Behemoth Zhao Liang borrowed this idea and depicted it as an enormous industrial chain. The colours of red, grey and blue represent, respectively, Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. Through the contemplative gaze of this film, he investigates the living conditions of industrial workers and the results of short-sighted urban development. It is a critique and meditation on modern civilization, where wealth accumulates and men decay.
Comments from the organizers
“I think we should all stop and think after watching this film, which does not speak only of China but of all of us. About how labour and industrial production are not the end but the means,” said Marco Gisotti, Green Drop Award Director. “Probably Behemoth is the most political film of the entire Festival.”
“This edition of the Green Drop Award was for us the most challenging,” said Elio Pacilio, President of Green Cross Italy. “In about 90 days from now there will be the International Conference on Climate Change in Paris. From Venice, through cinema, we want to launch an appeal for the success of these negotiations. The future of humanity depends on this and cinema with its artists and its audiences can do a lot.”
Back To The Future tribute
The awards ceremony, which took place at the Lido of Venice at the Hotel Excelsior, included a special tribute to the 30-year anniversary of Back to the Future. The jury of the Green Drop Award arrived aboard a DeLorean DMC-12, the car model made famous by the movie, recalling that this fiction had imagined green innovations that proved possible thirty years later. In the second episode of the trilogy, Doc (Christopher Lloyd) fueled the machine with organic waste to travel through time from 1985 to 21 October 2015 in his DeLorean.
The Green Drop Award is an annual prize that Green Cross Italy assigns to the film that best represents sustainability among those competing at Venice Film Festival. The trophy itself is a creation from a master Murano glassmaker. It is shaped into a hollow drop of water, containing a sample of soil inside – from a different place each year. For past awards, the soil came from Brazil, Egypt, and Antarctica. This year it comes from Senegal, to focus global attention on the problem of drought and the impact of climate change in that country.