Elevate your life, sustainably
Elevate your life, sustainably

‘The Dark Hobby’, ‘2040’, ‘Save Ralph’ Take Top Prizes at 4th International Vegan Film Festival

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vegan film festival winners
Photo via Marek Okon | Unsplash

The International Vegan Film Festival announces its 2021 winners including features, shorts, a photo essay competition, and the first-ever vegan cookbook contest.

Hawaii’s controversial aquarium trade, long-distance animal transport, and a glimpse at a world 20 years from now if humanity embraces the best solutions for the planet are just some of the themes covered in the films taking the top prizes at the International Vegan Film Festival, now in its 4th year.

This is the first year the festival is holding a concurrent vegan cookbook contest. Festival director Shawn Stratton says it’s the only known vegan cookbook contest on the planet.

This year’s film judges include Nafsika Antypas, CEO of the international vegan food brand, Nafsika’s Garden; Dale Vince, eco-entrepreneur and chairman of Forest Green Rovers football club; Jim Amos, COO of Scout 22, a full-service marketing and PR agency; and Jasmine C. Leyva, producer of the documentary The Invisible Vegan.

Photo essay judges include Indian Rock Vegans co-founder Dan Moskaluk, a former United Nations Peacekeeping Mission spokesperson; Dr. Jennifer Purdy, CD, MD, CCFP, DipABLM of Ottawa Lifestyle Medicine; Seth Tibbott founder of Turtle Island Foods, now The Tofurky Company; entrepreneur, investor, and activist Sebastiano Cossia Castiglioni​; Kimberly Casy Carr, founder of VMECCA, an international livestream and gaming platform; and Jill Robinson, founder of Animals Asia.

IVFF Film Winners

Animal Advocacy Feature: “The Dark Hobby”

About: The story of a group of Native Hawaiians and conservationists who struggle politically to protect the exotic fish being looted from their reefs.

Judge’s Statement: “This was an impactful and fascinating look into what’s going on with the commercial aquarium business in Hawaii. It helped bring awareness to the characteristics and value of marine life and how it is urgent that we take action and respect our ocean ecosystems.”

Animal Advocacy Short: “Moving Animals”

About: “Moving Animals” is a powerful short film about Jo-Anne McArthur’s documentation of the long-distance transport of animals, shot and produced by filmmaker Miguel Endara.

Judge’s Statement: “The dedication of Jo Ann MacArthur’s photography and storytelling lifts this above most short films about animal suffering. I also loved that she understands that these images and stories need to expand beyond animal welfare and vegan outlets to mainstream media such as the New York Times and The Guardian and how that happens is by showing these creatures are gentle beings with feelings and emotions, not the in-your-face animal suffering images.” 

Environmental Protection: “2040”

About: Award-winning director Damon Gameau (“That Sugar Film”) embarks on a journey to explore what the future could look like by the year 2040 if we simply embraced the best solutions already available to us to improve our planet and shifted them rapidly into the mainstream. Structured as a visual letter to his 4-year-old daughter, Damon blends traditional documentary with dramatized sequences and high-end visual effects to create a vision board of how these solutions could regenerate the world for future generations.

Judge’s Statement: “This beautifully produced work is a light of hope that inspires action! There was so much good news here, so many great examples of where we could be in just a few short decades…if we act now. It is works like these that are the catalyst for change.” 

Health & Nutrition: “The Story of Two Vegan Bodybuilders”

About: Think you need to eat animals to get enough protein? Think again. These vegan athletes are workout buddies, business partners and co-authors of the book “Plant-Based Muscle.” Robert Cheeke is a vegan bodybuilding pioneer, bodybuilding champion and a bestselling author. Vanessa Espinoza is an elite powerlifter, a 3X Colorado Golden Gloves Boxing Champion and an All-American basketball player.

Judge’s Statement: “This is great at dismantling common misunderstandings about not building muscle on a plant-based diet.”

Public Service Announcement: Save Ralph

About: This stop-motion animated short film features HSI’s campaign spokesbunny, Ralph (voiced by Taika Waititi), as he goes through his daily routine as a “tester” in a lab. In addition to Taika Waititi as Ralph, the film stars Ricky Gervais, Zac Efron, Olivia Munn, Pom Klementieff, and Tricia Helfer.

Judge’s Statement: “This was an animation masterpiece! Also, nice work bridging the viewer’s empathy for animals via the “working rabbit.” Very well delivered message, inspiring work…appealing to children.”

vegan film festival winners
Dreena’s Kind Kitchen | courtesy

IVFF Cookbook Winners

1st – “Dreena’s Kind Kitchen” by Dreena Burton

About: From veteran cookbook author Dreena Burton comes a collection of 100 dependable and delicious plant-based recipes that everyone will love. With helpful guidance on techniques, time-saving tips, and suggestions for repurposing leftovers into delicious new dishes, this dependable resource will boost your cooking confidence and help you find success in your own plant-powered kitchen.

Judge’s Statement: “I really liked the simplicity of these recipes. I think this would be a book I would come back to again and again. Everything was really easy to follow and the recipes came together quickly. The pictures were simple and accurate.”

2nd – “Liv B’s Easy Everyday” by Olivia Biermann

About: Liv B’s Easy Everyday is a new collection of 100 recipes that are tastier and easier than ever. Everything in this book is cooked with either five ingredients or in one pot or on a sheet pan. You’ll use less kitchen equipment and less effort, giving you more space to exhale in your already busy day.

Judge’s Statement: “LOVED this cookbook. Easy, quick recipes. This would be a great recipe book for anyone new to vegan food and also a great book for experienced vegans who don’t have a lot of time to get food on the table.”

3rd – “ Fast Easy Cheap Vegan” by Sam Turnbull

About: From Sam Turnbull, the bestselling author of Fuss-Free Vegan, and creator of the blog It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken, comes her eagerly awaited second cookbook. She is cooking up even simpler vegan comfort food–on a budget, with fewer ingredients, and in 30 minutes or less!

Judge’s Statement: Good photos, easy to follow. advice on making ahead and/or quick tips. Great book for new cooks, students etc. Good general info on following a vegan diet, interesting recipes.

Louise Jorgensen | courtesy

IVFF Photo Essay Winners

1st: Louise Jorgensen – Reflection

When I look into the eyes of my dog companions, I see my reflection looking at them with love. In their eyes see joy, love, trust, hope, and enthusiasm for life when they look back at me. For more than 10 years I have been documenting the last moments of life for animals trapped in our human food system. The reflection that I see in their eyes is a stark contrast to that of my beloved dogs. In their eyes, I see my reflection on the other side of the bars that hold them imprisoned. I see fear, distrust, hopelessness, despair, desperation, despondency.

2nd: Christopher Shoebridge- See Me – UK Pig Farm

‘See Me’ is an ongoing undercover photography project combining studio photography techniques with investigative reportage, to highlight the plight of individuals trapped within our farming systems in a way that makes them impossible not to be seen.

3rd: Garmendia – Inside the Spanish pork industry: the pig factory of Europe

With a pig population of over 30 million, according to Eurostat, the Spanish farming industry has established itself as the largest producer of live pigs within the European Union. In July 2020, the «Let’s Talk About Pork from Europe» campaign was launched. According to a press release, one of its objectives was to disprove the alleged myths surrounding animal welfare. The three-year campaign, financed to the tune of more than 6 million euros by the European Union, is coordinated by four large meat industry business groups. 



IVFF is giving away a total of $4000 CAD worth of prize money to the winners. Submissions were sent from filmmakers, cookbook authors, and photographers from all over the world and carefully rated by expert judges.

Tickets for the festival are available for individual 90-minute program “block” for $16.95 CAD or a regular all-access festival pass for $45.20 CAD. In addition, passes will allow films to be watched at the attendees’ leisure from anywhere in the world through the online platform, Sparqfest by clicking here.

Due to the pandemic, the festival will take place virtually this year from October 30 to November 14th. Ethos is the festival’s official media partner. Wicked Kitchen is the event’s title sponsor.

For more information, visit the IVFF website.

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