Lionel Chouchan has launched many film festivals in his native France, including the Deauville Festival of American Cinema, the Festival International du Film Fantastique d'Avoriaz (now based in Gerardmer) and the Festival du Film Policier de Cognac. But for the director of Paris-based communications agency Le Public Systeme none of those ventures matches his latest undertaking for exoticism.

On November 9, Chouchan presides over the opening night of the fourth annual Amazonas International Film Festival, a seven-day event held in Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas, deep in the rainforest.

The festival was born when Chouchan re-encountered documentary film-maker Jean-Pierre Dutilleux after more than 20 years. Dutilleux, an ethnographic film-maker specialising in the Amazon, had heard the state of Amazonas was looking for a medium to communicate its issues and concerns to the broader world.

Not surprisingly, given his background, Chouchan suggested a film festival - but a festival of adventure films. As he says, "The words 'adventure' and 'Amazon' are synonymous."

Three festivals later, however, Chouchan has changed course.

"There has been a general awakening in international public opinion at the gravity of climate change," Chouchan says, "and that's affected governments, companies, the media and shaped the role of the image in this evolution."

Thus the fourth festival will not only present a number of major environmentally themed films in competition - including opening night offering Earth, a UK-Germany co-production by Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield, and closing night film Sa Majeste Minor, from Jean-Jacques Annaud - but will also feature two debates. The first: are environmental films telling us what we need to know or what we want to hear' The second: is environmental film a ghetto, or is there a chance such films can breed a new kind of media-savvy and environmentally-savvy citizen'

The festival has attracted several high-profile guests, including film-makers Jean-Jacques Annaud; Darren Aronofsky, who will be a juror; and John Boorman, who will be president of the jury. Also on the jury is Hubert Sauper, director of the documentary Darwin's Nightmare.

Asked if the festival is open to the people of Amazonas, Chouchan responds: "Yes, but our mandate exceeds the local. The government of Amazonas sees the festival as a springboard to address the problems of the environment and rainforest protection for its Latin American neighbours and the international media. We want to bridge the gulf between what we in privileged countries see as ecology and the experience in the countries that are directly affected."