Having just flown into Monaco, one could quite possibly assume that we were here for nothing but the sun, the sea and, quite naturally, a rather good time with plenty of cocktails thrown in. On this occasion, however, there is another and far more important reason for being here.
We find ourselves in Monaco at the kind invitation of The International Emerging Film Talent Association (IEFTA), in association with the The Ethiopian Film Initiative (EFI), an organisation that identifies and supports film-related creativity in developing countries around the world, who are this Monday throwing a dinner to raise funds to support film education in Ethiopia. Their mission is to discover and promote emerging talent, to encourage dialogue between filmmakers, to promote cultural diversity and international understanding, and to engage in the art of cinema.
Each year the IEFTA and the EFI join forces to organise a sponsored trip to the Cannes Film Festival. These trips provide an opportunity to meet a range of influential producers and commissioners at the festival.
Though of course the IEFTA’s focus is on the art of filmmaking, the principles behind their approach are very much similar to those at the core of Elephant Gin’s foundations – Big Life Foundation and Space for Elephants Foundation (SEF).
Ultimately, for the IEFTA, it is about using education. As Marco Orsini, President of the IEFTA, explains, “we want to continue to develop Ethiopia s film market to a point that it is self sufficient and independent from our needs. We hope this happens within the next few years. We are also hoping to move this project to another country and hopefully have the same success we had in Ethiopia.”
Education is also vital in the fight for elephant conservation. One of the essential objectives for Space for Elephants is the active participation of the corridor edge communities and of the people living in the corridors. To achieve this SEF is encouraging local people to become entrepreneurs of small businesses and to create their own economic independence. SEF has already undertaken training adults in hospitality, tourism and manufacturing skills to start their own business enterprises.
Big Life Foundation also see local communities as the ultimate custodians of wildlife areas, making it vital they reap economic benefits from their tolerance of the wildlife that offset the economic losses otherwise suffered from human-wildlife conflict and the sharing of finite natural resources. Big Life make this possible not only by providing more conservation-based jobs, but also through compensation to offset verifiable economic losses due to wildlife, and through financial incentives to reward local communities for setting aside a portion of their land for wildlife conservation areas and migration corridors.
We are so excited to be here in Monaco supporting the IEFTA and of course very much looking forward to laying on a few Elephant Gin cocktails for what we are sure will be the most wonderful evening raising funds in support of Ethiopian filmmakers.