The fourth edition of the Madeira Film Festival was an exciting, global, sophisticated celebration of nature through the power of films. It’s a film festival that continues to attract artists from around the globe with its diverse cultural scene.
With an eagerly awaiting public, and an audience of film-lovers drawn to the Island of Madeira, the Madeira Film Festival is a spectacle that is growing with every year.
The prestigious event is Europe’s most exclusive and independent film festival, and runs from April 26th to May 3rd. This cinematic carnival also includes a variety of workshops, panel discussions, films, parties, gala dinners, glamour, art, concerts, music, dance, trips, excursions, networking and business gatherings, all of which are interwoven at the Madeira Film Festival.
Held at the prestigious Belmond Reid’s Palace Hotel and Teatro Municipal Baltazar Dias in Funchal, The Madeira Film Festival serves as a platform to showcase independent feature, short and documentary films from directors far and wide. Indicative of Madeira’s continued commitment to preserve the natural history, flora and fauna of the Island, the festival presented worldwide nature orientated films.
The festival is very unique in content and style and remains a non-competitive ceremony. It was refreshing to learn that the Madeira Film Festival doesn’t give out prizes, but instead opts to grant filmmakers and participants the ‘Laurissilva Ambassador Award’, which in turn helps to promote and raise awareness and recognition of Madeira’s endemic forest. I indeed had the opportunity whilst at the festival to travel to the world’s largest Laurissilva forest which is located on the island of Madeira, and in 1999, the 15,000 hectare indigenous ‘living relic’ was awarded the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I also got a chance to explore the stunning scenery of Madeira further via a Jeep Safari which ventured to Pico Ruivo which is the highest point of the Island where I witnessed awe-inspiring views. The Laurissilva forest offers the opportunity to breathe in the fresh air, walk and observe the local floral amongst the hilly landscape, all combined with a mild climate which encourages close contact with nature.
Throughout the Madeira Film Festival week, filmmakers exhibited their work at the spectacular Municipal Theatre based in Funchal of which at a quick glance reminded me of a miniature Royal Albert Hall. I found watching films and performances in this extraordinary venue certainly took my viewing experience to another level. Within the theatre, there are a large number of VIP boxes that surround the stalls, and all the curtains and seats are beautifully decorated in a deep red velvet. I could see why people wanted to sit for ages in the empty auditorium and admire the atmosphere and architecture. The theatre itself has screened iconic pieces such as Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Hunt, The Hunter, Happiness, Of Horses And Men and Garnet’s Gold to name but a few. This magnificent site has also played host to music concerts from The Kyle Eastwood Band, Maria de Medeiros and Natalie Gelman.
Films that really caught the eye during the festival were “Of Horses And Men”, a darkly comedic tale by Director Benedict Erlingsson about the lives of a remote Icelandic community and the deeply interwined and highly emotive relationships with their horses.
I thoroughly enjoyed “Garnet’s Gold” a documentary by Director Ed Perkins starring Garnet Frost. The star of the documentary Garnet nearly died whilst on a hiking trip in the Highlands of Scotland. Garnet is convinced the wooden staff he discovered just before he was rescued is actually a marker for a fortune hidden nearly 300 years ago and returns to search for it. What happens next is the unfolding of beautiful story of hope, faith and charity.
Click the link below for page two of our visit to the The Madeira Film Festival