2023 Films for the Forest theme is "Living Forests. Thriving Future."

This theme It challengeds filmmakers to highlight the urgent need for collective action in the face of climate change, and to showcase the value of healthy, standing forests for the future of humanity and every life form on the planet.

2023 Winners and Runners-up

Documentary Short Winners

Winner — Bleeding Gold
Directed by  — Thaelman Urgelles, Juan Urgell

In the southeast region of Venezuela, officially known as the Orinoco Mining Arc, an unprecedented ecocide is taking place, where a complex criminal network with transnational characteristics is being articulated. Its consequences are massively damaging the environment and the human rights of dozens of indigenous communities, leading to a historical environmental catastrophe hidden in the lungs of the planet.

Runner-up — Tam Mỹ Tây
Directed by  — James Thomson

Animated Short Winners

Winner — The Sprayer
Directed by  — Farnoosh Abedi

In the land occupied with the sprayers army, no one has the right to grow any kind of plants either in public or private. So many of the people and soldiers do not even know how dose a plant grows or look like, until one day one of the soldiers finds a seed buried deep down in the dust and his curiosity is just the beginning of something extraordinary, something big, something revolutionary.

Youth Film Winners

Winner — The Speech of Txai Surui
Directed by  — Students of the Multimedia Project of Escola Parque

The memorable and historic speech by Txai Suruí at the opening of COP-26: UN Conference on Climate Change, in Glasgow, Scotland (2021). Txai Suruí is a Brazilian indigenous activist leader, of the Paiter-Suruí ethnic group. Film made in stop motion and 2d animation by the high school students of Escola Parque (Multimedia Project).

Indigenous (IPLC) Film Winners

Winner — Our Children's River
Directed by  — Dominic Gill

In 2022, Encompass partnered with the Honnold Foundation to produce a film about the Kofan indigenous community in the Ecuadorian rainforest. This community, after bearing the brunt of the effects of colonization for the last several hundred years, is now threatened by large energy companies that aim to extract resources from their territory.  The Honnold Foundation is partnered with the Ceibo Alliance, an organization of 4 indigenous nationalities, including the Kofan. Together, they have worked to distribute solar energy within tribal territories, providing the tribes with increased autonomy. This film examines the relationship that the Kofan have cultivated with their territory over centuries, and highlights their efforts to protect their land from exploitation.

Runner-up — Məca
Directed by  — Ritchie Hemphill, Ryan Haché

Məca is a stop motion representation of the late Elder Ida Smith telling her grandson the 'Nakwax'daxw legend of the Mink. In this film Ida tells the story in the Bak̓wa̱mk̓ala language. Mink, or "Məca", is an impatient son of the Sun who is trying to force himself into being someone other than he is, so that he can impress love interests. Throughout his journey Məca will learn what it means to have humility, patience, and to be better at self acceptance.

2023 Films for the Forest Judges

A highly distinguished panel of judges selected this year’s films, and Rainforest Partnership expresses deep gratitude for their time and talents. 

Richard Linklater

Richard has been the Films for the Forest competition Head Judge since the beginning of the competition. Born in Houston, Texas, Richard Linklater suspended his education at Sam Houston State University in 1982 to work on an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. He subsequently relocated to the state's capital of Austin, where he founded a film society and began work on his debut film, “It's Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books” (1988).

Three years later, Richard released “Slacker” (1990), an insightful, virtually plotless look at 1990s youth culture that became a favorite on the festival circuit prior to earning vast acclaim at Sundance in 1991. Upon its commercial release, the movie, made for less than $23,000, became the subject of considerable mainstream media attention, with the term "slacker" becoming a much-overused catch-all tag employed to affix a name and identity to America's disaffected youth culture.

He directed other films include “Dazed and Confused” (1993), “Before Sunrise” (1995), “Waking Life” (2001), “School of Rock” (2003), “Before Sunset” (2004), “A Scanner Darkly” (2006) and “Before Midnight” (2013).

Richard gained critical acclaim for his film “Boyhood” (2014), which took 12 years to film and won him a BAFTA for Best Director and Best Picture, Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Movie Award. He also earned nominations for the Academy Award for Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Original Screenplay.

Is a Kichwa - Ecuadorian filmmaker. She studied film and video at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito In May 2011 she produced her first documentary, “Huellas de Tiempo”, which portrays life in a nursing home in Otavalo, Ecuador. It received the COCOA  award for “Best Documentary 2012”. In June 2011, she made the short fiction film “ELLA”, which has been screened in Shanghai, Washington, California, Austin (Texas), and New York City. 

In 2013, she participated in the editing and hosting of the television program "SHUKMA", a 12-chapter program that was one of the first to be made by indigenous people from their territories, and which is broadcasted on Ecuadorian national television. From 2012 to 2015, she worked on the fiction feature film “KILLA”, the first film in the Kichwa language to be shown in commercial cinemas in Ecuador. She is the director of the documentary "Warmi Pachakutik", which portrays the new generation of indigenous women in her country, and which was previewed in New York City in the May Sumak Kichwa Film Showcase 2019 and at the Malaga Festival, Spain. She is currently writing her fiction feature film script “PANIKU”.

Juan Sebastián Mesa

Born in Medellín, Colombia. He is a photographer and visual communicator with studies in scriptwriting and contemporary narratives.

He is also the co-founder of Monociclo Cine, a company that focuses on developing and producing film projects by new directors.In 2009 he directed his first short film “Maquillando el Silencio”. In 2013 he wrote and directed his second short film “Kalashnikov”, which was nominated for the Macondo Awards for 'Best National Short Film'.In 2015 he concluded his first feature film, “Los Nadie”.

This film won the 'Audience Award' at the 31st Settimana Internazionale della Critica de Venezia, and also was the inaugural film at the 56th Festival Internacional de Cine de Cartagena de Indias (FICCI).

He also directed "Tierra Mojada" (2017) and in 2021 released his second feature film called “La Roya”, which was also screened as the inaugural film at the FICCI in its 61st edition.

Iwan Rheon

Iwan Rheon is a Welsh actor and musician. Iwan has been our judge at Films for the Forest for three years in a row. He is best known for his roles as Simon Bellamy in “Misfits” , Ramsay Bolton in “Game of Thrones” , and Mötley Crüe guitarist Mick Mars in the film “The Dirt”.

He has also acted in several films including “Libertador” (2013), “Hurricane” (2018), “Berlin, I love You” (2019), and series such as “American Gods” (2017), “Riviera“ (2017), and “Inhumans” (2017). Iwan has previously released various EPs. The first one, called “Tongue Tied”, was launched in 2010. 

In early 2015, he also wrote and recorded a full-length album, called “Dinard”, while filming seasons four and five of GOT. Since 2019 he has been an Ambassador for WWF UK, and in 2021 he joined WWF Cymru and Size of Wales, in an effort to have Wales become the first 'deforestation-free nation'.

Visit Iwan's Instagram

Calum Worthy

Calum Worthy began his acting career at the age of nine and made his film debut in the BBC award-winning mini-series I Was A Rat. His most acclaimed roles include Hulu’s The Act, Netflix’s American Vandal, Eminem’s Bodied, and Disney Channel’s Austin & Ally.

Calum is a vocal activist for the environmental movement and is currently working with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project and Bono’s One organization. He has millions of followers across his social media platforms which he dedicates to educating and empowering his fan base on the climate crisis and gender inequality in developing countries.

Visit Calum's Instagram

Brenda Asnicar

Brenda Asnicar is an Argentinian actress, singer, dancer, and model. She began her musical career at 11 years old, and her first acting role was at the age of 16 in the acclaimed Argentinian Telenovela "Patito Feo" She is also known for her roles in Televisa's "Corazón Valiente" Nickelodeon's "Sueña Conmigo" and FOX's "Cumbia Ninja".

Asnicar released her first music album “Vos Sos Dios”. In 2021 she released “Bandida Records” her latest studio album, where she reflects profoundly on diverse parts of her life and career.

Since 2022 Brenda has worked hand in hand with other artists in building awareness for rainforest conservation.

Films for the Forest Partners

“Protecting standing tropical rainforests is a climate solution that plays a vital role in our collective future, no matter where on the planet we live. Films for the Forest connects people with rainforests through the powerful medium of film

— Niyanta Spelman, CEO of Rainforest Partnership

Contact Us

If you would like to contribute to or sponsor Films for the Forest, or collaborate some other way, please email us at films(at)rainforestpartnership.org.