Sunday, January 18, 2009

Green films on Sundance Film Festival 2009

Sundance Film Festival is a great film festival. This year it's also very green. Maybe greener than ever.

As Michelle Meyers
reports on CNET News, many of the films presented at this year's festival have a green theme. Meyers reports that five out of the 32 documentaries competing at this year's festival fall squarely in the category of environmental films and that that's just a small fraction of the number of such films submitted to compete at the festival.

With a record of great green films that had their premiere at the festival, such as Who Killed the Electric Car and of course An Inconvenient Truth, there's definitely a lot of expectation around these films.

And there also green parties at Sundance! Michael Cieply reported on the NYT that today in the evening evening, and Self magazine plan to join Greenhouse, a New York City nightclub using environmentally sustainable materials, in sponsoring what they called a big, “ecofriendly” party for “Crude” at the Sky Lodge in Park City.

Here is a little taste of some of the green films that you can see in the festival, which runs until January 25 in ark City, Utah (descriptions of the films are taken of their web pages on the festival's website):

No Impact Man by Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein

Author Colin Beavan and his family are pictures of liberal complacency—sophisticated, takeout-addicted New Yorkers who refuse to let moral qualms interfere with good old-fashioned American consumerism. Then Colin turns things upside down. For his next book, he announces he's becoming No Impact Man, testing whether making zero environmental impact adversely affects happiness. The hitch is he needs his wife, Michelle—an espresso-guzzling, Prada-worshipping Business Week writer—and their toddler to join the experiment. A year without electricity, cars, toilet paper, and nonlocal food isn’t going to be a walk in the park. Or is it?

No Impact Man website

Dirt! The Movie by Bill Benenson and Gene Rosow

Inspired by William Bryant Logan’s acclaimed book Dirt, the Ecstatic Skin of the Earth, directors Bill Benenson and Gene Rosow employ a colorful combination of animation, vignettes, and personal accounts from farmers, physicists, church leaders, children, wine critics, anthropologists, and activists to learn about dirt—where it comes from, how we regard (or disregard) it, how it sustains us, the way it has become endangered, and what we can do about it.

Benenson and Rosow find answers everywhere: in tiny villages that dare to rise up to battle giant corporations to trendy organic farms; from prison horticultural programs to scientists who discover connections with soil that can offset the damage from global warming. The fresh and generous spirit of Dirt! The Movie is simple and energizing. You may walk into the theatre on asphalt, carpet, and cement, but you will likely walk out with a rekindled connection to the living, dark, rich soil that lies beneath you and a mind set on cultivating a new future.

Dirt! The Movie's website

Earth Days by Robert Stone

Robert Stone concocts an inspiring and hopeful work in Earth Days, a feature documentary that recounts the history of the modern environmental movement from its beginnings nearly four decades ago.

Environmental activism really began with the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, and precipitated an unexpected and galvanizing effect on the national psyche.
Told through the eyes of nine very divergent witnesses, including a secretary of the interior, Stewart Udall, who actually cared about the environment; a biologist, Paul Ehrlich; a congressman, Pete McCloskey; and an astronaut, Rusty Schweickart, Earth Days is a visually stunning, globe-spanning chronicle of watershed events and consciousness-changing realizations that prompted a new awareness: the post–World War II American dream of a future world created by scientific progress, new technology, and economic expansion was rapidly changing into a nightmare.

The End of the Line by Rupert Murray

Based on the book by Charles Clover, The End of the Line explores the devastating effect that overfishing is having on fish stocks and the health of our oceans.With Clover as his guide, Sundance veteran Rupert Murray (Unknown White Male) crisscrosses the globe, examining what is causing the dilemma and what can be done to solve it.
Industrial fishing began in the 1950s. High-tech fisheries now trawl the oceans with nets the size of football fields. Species cannot survive at the rate they are being removed from the sea.

Add in cofactors of decades of bad science, corporate greed, small-minded governments, and escalating consumer demand, and we’re left with a crisis of epic proportions. Ninety percent of the big fish in our oceans are now gone.
Murray interweaves glorious footage from both underwater and above with shocking scientific testimony to paint a vivid and alarming profile of the state of the sea. The ultimate power of The End of the Line is that it moves beyond doomsday rhetoric to proffer real solutions. Chillingly topical, The End of the Line drives home the message: the clock is ticking, and the time to act is now.

The End of the Line's website

Crude by Joe Berlinger

Photo Credit: Juan Diego Pérez

Can 30,000 plaintiffs from five Indigenous Ecuadoran tribes find justice from Chevron, one of the world’s largest oil producers? Who is responsible for the unconscionable dumping of 18 billion gallons of toxic oil waste in the Ecuadoran Amazon, poisoning the most biodiverse place on the planet?

Filmmaker Joe Berlinger’s latest documentary picks up the thread of the infamous ""Amazon Chernobyl"" case, a 13-year-old battle between communities nearly destroyed by oil drilling and development and one of the biggest companies on earth. In a sophisticated take on the classic David and Goliath story, Berlinger took three years to craft a cinema vérité portrait centering on the charismatic lawyers in the U.S. and Ecuador who have doggedly pursued the case against all of the forces a corporation can bring into courts of law.

Though the Ecuadorans and their perspective receive the lion's share of screen time, the film makes a concerted effort to show the case from all sides: from the scientists and lawyers employed by Chevron, to Ecuadoran judges, to celebrity activists and humanitarian organizers, to the role of the media, to the dramatic intervention of Rafael Correa himself, the first Ecuadoran president to sympathize with the Indigenous perspective. In a tale that spans the globe, Crude looks beyond compassion for the disenfranchised and the corruption of those in power to ask how justice itself is being defined in the twenty-first century.

The film's website

An interview with the director, Joe Berlinger, on indieWIRE


Raz @ Eco-Libris