Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s Blackfish
What better way to celebrate the beauty of late spring than with a new edition of our environmental film series Green Screens? From May 31 – June 5, Film Society will showcase engaging new documentaries about eco-crises and those fighting for solutions to the problems that plague our planet.
Programmer Isa Cucinotta says the series “enlightens and in some cases may even frighten the audience as filmmakers focus on the state of our world, its creatures and eco-systems, and the effects climate change, pollution and diminishing resources are having on us at home.”
Highlights from the lineup include Charles Wilkinson’s Peace Out, which looks at industrial projects in Canada’s Peace River region, where a new dam, thousands of hydro-fracked shale gas wells, and a nuclear power plant are underway. Although countless jobs are being created and schools and hospitals are staying open, multi-national corporations are said to be laundering money and despoiling an area the size of Florida, which would leave unspeakable destruction.
In Bettina Borgfeld’s and David Bernet Peter’s Raising Resistance, a local farmer in Paraguay tries to block herbicides from being sprayed on nearby corporate-owned farms, since wind carries the herbicides to his own farm. The actions of the corporate-owned farms have pushed the campesinos to fight for the preservation of their land. The Carbon Rush, directed by Amy Miller, focuses on the United Nations' Kyoto Protocol-designed Clean Development Mechanism, aimed at reducing carbon emissions. The sad truth is revealed that some of these projects have resulted in unexpected, horrid circumstances, including loss of land, jobs, and lives.
Jan van den Berg and Pipaluk Knudsen-Ostermann's Silent Snow: The Invisible Poisoning of the World
Peter Young’s The Last Ocean provokes debate on whether we should preserve the most pristine marine ecosystem on our planet (the Ross Sea) as the fishing industry plans to remove half of the Antarctic toothfish population from its waters. Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s Blackfish explores the (mis)treatment of killer whales in the sea-park industry. This emotionally wrenching film was an audience favorite at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
In Silent Snow: The Invisible Poisoning of the World, directors Jan van den Berg and Pipaluk Knudsen-Ostermann show how chemical residue contaminating the arctic is poisoning the Inuit people. This deeply personal film explores the relation between rising disease rates and the 80,000 chemicals the human body is exposed to.
Alicia Dwyer’s Xmas Without China follows two families in the wake of the media’s negative portrayal of Chinese products: Tom Xia, a Chinese immigrant living in the United States, challenges the Jones family to empty their home of any products made in China through the Christmas season. This story leads to the exploration of American identity, globalization, and cross-culturalism.
Join us for the return of Green Screens (May 31 – June 5) and experience the work of filmmakers who are dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers facing our environment and the ongoing fight to reverse the harm humanity is inflicting on planet Earth.
BLACKFISH (2013) 90min
Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity. Along the way, director-producer Gabriela Cowperthwaite compiles surprising footage and emotional interviews to explore the creature’s extraordinary nature, the species’ cruel treatment in captivity, the lives and losses of the trainers, and the pressures brought to bear by the multi-billion dollar sea-park industry. This emotionally wrenching story challenges us to consider our relationship to nature and reveals how little we humans have learned from these highly intelligent and enormously sentient fellow mammals.
Saturday, June 1
THE CARBON RUSH (2012) 84min
Director: Amy Miller
Cap and trade was supposed to be the solution to curbing carbon emissions, but sometimes the best plans have unintended consequences. The Carbon Rush takes us across four continents to see up-close the projects working through the United Nations’ Kyoto Protocol-designed Clean Development Mechanism. These projects often have negative impacts on local communities. Adding market incentives to create a new industry may benefit project owners, but the poorest and most vulnerable suffer loss of land, jobs and even life.
Sunday, June 2 and Wednesday, June 5
ETERNAL AMAZON (Amazônia Eterna) (2012) 87min
Director: Belisario Franca
Eternal Amazon investigates successful initiatives that make sustainable use of the rainforest. Farming, fishing, ranching, mining, energy, tourism, logging, and industrial activities, together with the presence of its indigenous people, are all on the rainforest agenda and explored in this documentary. It portrays the daily lives of the forest people as the guardians of this great natural heritage that could last into eternity, if properly managed. The protagonists of sustainable initiatives, engaged in discussions with leading specialists in the environment, public policy and economics, work to find ways to use natural resources with minimal harmful impact.
Sunday, June 2 and Mon June 3
FALL AND WINTER (2013) 102min
Director: Matt Anderson
Fall and Winter is the result of a 16,000-mile journey across the U.S. in search of answers to our unfolding global crises. Extreme weather, soil depletion, water and air pollution threaten civilization itself. How did we get here? And what do we do about it? Stunningly photographed, the film draws on past wisdom and uncovers new, ingenious strategies for the future. A psycho-spiritual guide for the 21st century.
Friday, May 31 and Wednesday, June 5
INTO THE GYRE (2012) 45min
Director: Scott Elliott
Into the Gyre follows the journey of a team of scientists searching for plastic pollution in the remote Saragasso Sea. Run by the Sea Education Association (SEA), this unprecedented expedition measured the amount of plastic in the Atlantic Ocean and studied its effects on marine ecosystems, with surprising results.
YASUNI (2013) 30min
Director: Nicolás Entel
Yasuni explores what is at the heart of Ecuador's Yasuni-ITT Initiative, which aims to protect Yasuni National Park from oil exploitation. This documentary was born from a need to provide all indigenous communities that call Yasuni their home a legitimate voice.
CARBON FOR WATER (2011) 22min
Directors: Evan Abramson & Carmen Elsa Lopez
In just five weeks, an innovative company using carbon credits for financing gave 4.5 million people in Kenya’s Western Province access to safe drinking water in this award-winning documentary.
Saturday, June 1 and Tuesday, June 4
THE LAST OCEAN (2012) 85min
Director: Peter Young
Country: New Zealand
Do we fish the last ocean or do we protect it? The most pristine marine ecosystem on Earth, the Ross Sea, has remained free from widespread pollution, invasive species, mining and over-fishing. Home to high concentrations of wildlife and an incredible array of animals, many found nowhere else on the planet, it is teeming with large predatory fish, whales, seals and penguins that collectively comprise the last intact marine ecosystem on Earth. It is a living laboratory providing scientists with the last chance to understand how a healthy marine ecosystem functions. Facing depleted fisheries everywhere else, the fishing industry has found its way south in pursuit of the Antarctic toothfish (sold as Chilean sea bass). Fishers plan to remove 50 percent of the adult toothfish from the Ross Sea and, in so doing, will destroy the natural balance of Earth’s last untouched ocean. Featuring beautiful Antarctic footage, this film presents the conservationist case and the campaign to counteract the fishing lobby.
Friday May 31 and Wednesday June 5
LOST RIVERS (2012) 72min
Director: Caroline Bâcle
Early city planners buried polluted waterways underground for the health of the crowded urban communities. Under the cities, they still flow, out of sight and out of mind… until now. Urban dwellers are on a quest to reconnect with this denigrated natural world. LOST RIVERS takes us on an adventure underground and across the globe, retracing the history of these lost urban rivers by plunging into archival maps and going underground with clandestine urban explorers. From China to New York, people are excited to uncover the rivers, now clean after decades of environmental activism, and incorporate them into a new cityscape.
Monday June 3, and Wednesday June 5 (with Q&A)
PEACE OUT (2011) 80min
Director: Charles Wilkinson
In Canada's vast Peace River region, mega-projects include a major new dam, tens of thousands of hydro-fracked shale gas wells, a nuclear power plant, and the Tar Sands. On the positive side of the ledger, countless jobs are being created, resource revenues are pouring in, and schools and hospitals are staying open. Alternatively, there are credible charges that multi-national corporations are despoiling an area the size of Florida, converting public assets into private fortunes and leaving a wake of Mordor-like destruction. PEACE OUT resists pointing a finger at the usual suspects. Instead, it probes the deeper causes underlying the symptoms of environmental exploitation.
Sunday June 2
PEAK (2012) 91min
Director: Hannes Lang
Shot in the South Tyrolean Alps over the course of a year, Peak uncovers the drastic steps man must take to preserve a once idyllic natural paradise. The high mountains are a haven for skiers, but the warming climate has diminished the snowfall to a point where technology must take over or the tourist industry will be lost. Snow machines, a reservoir, and other “modifications” require more planning, more money, more technology—all to recreate a supposedly unspoiled natural paradise.
Friday May 31, and Saturday June 1
RAISING RESISTANCE (2011) 84min
Directors: Bettina Borgfeld & David Bernet
Repeated exposure to a stressor creates resistance. Focusing on small farms in Paraguay, RAISING RESISTANCE shows how the proliferation of genetically modified soy crops have pushed the campesinos to fight for the preservation of their land and crop diversity. A local farmer tries to block herbicides from being sprayed on nearby corporate-owned farms as the wind and water will carry it to his farm decimating his crops. Worse yet, after repeated sprayings the weeds become resistant to the herbicide, necessitating more applications of ever more potent chemicals. An important film that connects our first world desires to the devastation of small farmers worlds away.
Sunday, June 2
SILENT SNOW: THE INVISIBLE POISONING OF THE WORLD (2011) 71min
Directors: Jan van den Berg & Pipaluk Knudsen-Ostermann
Travelling on ocean currents and carried in snowfall, chemical residue accumulates in the once-pristine Arctic. These pesticides are poisoning both the Inuit people and the animals, causing illness and even threatening the unborn. Pipaluk Knudsen-Ostermann travels from her home in Greenland to communities in Uganda, India and Costa Rica to find local causes of the contamination that makes its way to the Arctic. The result is a film both highly personal and universal.
Sunday June 2, and Monday June 3
UNACCEPTABLE LEVELS (2012) 90min
Director: Edward Brown
We have over 80,000 chemicals in our commercial system, and some of those have found their way straight into our bodies. With constant, daily exposure, we have approximately 200 synthetic industrial compounds that are interacting with our cells every single day. Until recently, science really didn’t understand what that could mean for us in the long run, but that is changing. Globally, disease rates are on the rise without explanation—yet the issues are complex and often muddied by the maneuvering of political and corporate interests. Director Ed Brown explores these issues as a father and a filmmaker to see if we can prevent disease before it happens.
Friday May 31, and Tuesday June 4
XMAS WITHOUT CHINA (2013) 63min
Director: Alicia Dwyer
Following a media-fed fear of Chinese products, Tom Xia, who immigrated to the U.S. with his parents as a child, challenges a family to live without any Chinese-made products in their home through Christmas. One concerned young family takes him up on it. But while the Jones family empties their home into a storage unit, Tom’s parents are fulfilling their idea of the American dream: a new, bigger home complete with outdoor Christmas lights. Through the filter of these two families, ideas of globalization, American identity and living in a cross-cultural world are explored. The good-natured participants are genuinely open to the humor of the situation and to understanding one another.
Sunday June 2, and Monday June 3
Free Amphitheater Screenings:
COOL STORIES FOR WHEN THE PLANET GETS HOT
Cool Stories for When the Planet Gets Hot is an international art video and short film competition now in its fourth edition. Producer ARTPORT, making waves invited video artists from all over the world to submit, in particular from areas most affected by Global Warming. As varied as the conceptual and technical approaches of the “Cool Stories” are, their core message is unmistakable; if we destroy nature, we threaten our very own existence. All the videos are between 30 seconds and 3 minutes long and will screen throughout the day.
Free and open to the public!
Screens May 31 – June 5