Liivo Niglas received the IUCN Film Award

Posted: 14 May 2003

Liivo Niglas has received the first ever IUCN Film Award for the Environment. As part of the annual film festival, Visions du Réel, a 5000 Swiss Franc cash prize went to the Estonian-born film-maker for Yuri Vella’s World (Juri Vella Maailm).


His winning film is a stunning portrait of the poet, intellectual and reindeer breeder Yuri Vella, who is the moral community leader of the Forest Nenets, a semi-nomadic people in Western Siberia, and their struggle to maintain a healthy environment.

Niglas follows Vella’s family life, recording Yuri’s thoughts as he explains his origins and the history of his people by walking his land and recounting stories. The film-maker excels in portraying how an individual of international standing campaigns in defense of the Nenets, while illustrating the environmental and cultural degradation of the community.

The Festival’s international jury which included former Swiss President, Ruth Dreifuss, praised the film for the way it showed the impacts of the modern world on the Nenets and their natural environment, including the arrival of oil companies in the region.

The IUCN Award is given to encourage filmmakers and festivals to promote high standards of environmental and sustainable development reporting. The cash prize “will help Yuri Vella to protect his world and buy some more reindeer,” says Niglas, who intends to share his prize with those who made the film possible.

The film-maker, Liivo Niglas, is 32-years-old and currently teaches social anthropology at one of Europe’s oldest universities in Tartu, Estonia.