Feb
25

Houston, we have a problem (with fossil fuels)

Image: “The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos,” screening March 26 at the National Museum of Natural History. (Photo © Anup Shah)

The 19th annual Environmental Film Festival in Washington, D.C. will explore one of the most controversial and timely topics of our day: the critical relationship between energy and the environment. From March 15 to March 27, the festival will present 150 diverse and engaging films from 40 countries, enhanced by the perspectives and knowledge of 52 filmmakers and 94 special guests. Thirty films will be shown at Smithsonian museums throughout the festival.

Renowned oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle will appear with the portrait film-in-progress, Mission Blue, distinguished biologist Dr. E.O. Wilson will discuss his two recent books about ants, and visionary Canadian environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki will attend the screening of Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie.

"Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie," screening March 17 at the National Museum of Natural History. (Photo© El Entertainment)

"Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie," screening March 17 at the National Museum of Natural History. (Photo© El Entertainment)

Energy powers our world and is essential to our modern daily lives, but accessing energy sources can involve risk to the health of the common environment that we all depend on. The most notorious instance of environmental devastation in the past year has, of course, been the impact of the BP Oil spill, addressed in Stories from the Gulf Coast—Living with The BP Oil Disaster. A special sneak preview of the film, The Pipe, captures the threat of oil pollution to the livelihoods of fishermen and farmers on a pristine coast of Ireland. Oil Rocks—City Above the Sea, a stunning portrait of the first and largest offshore oil city ever built, commissioned by Stalin over 60 years ago in the Caspian Sea, is this year’s winner of the Festival’s Polly Krakora Award for artistry in film.

Closer to home, the menace of mountaintop removal mining to the water, air and landscape of West Virginia is examined in two films, On Coal River and Burning the Future: Coal in America. As the availability of fossil fuels shrinks, even oilmen recognize the need for change, as shown in Houston, We Have a ProblemThe 4th Revolution: Energy Autonomy spotlights progress across the globe in moving away from reliance on fossil fuels toward the development of clean, renewable energy. The use of wind power in two small communities in the United States is shown in Windfall and Islands in the Wind. The promise of solar energy is captured in the film, Burning in the Sun, about the first solar panel business in sun-drenched Mali. The bold decision by Ecuador to leave the country’s Amazonian oil fields unexploited to safeguard their natural wealth is examined in two films: A Future Without Oil and Yasuni: Two Seconds of Life.

"Cuba: The Accidental Eden," screening on March 27 at the National Museum of Natural History. (Photo © Doug Shultz)

"Cuba: The Accidental Eden," screening on March 27 at the National Museum of Natural History. (Photo © Doug Shultz)

Among Festival highlights are 80 premieres, including the film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, winner of the 2010 Palme D’Or at Cannes; the multi-award-winning Russian psychological thriller, How I Ended This Summer; Werner Herzog’s new film, Happy People: A Year in the Taiga and Chilean documentary filmmaker Patricio Guzmán’s Nostalgia for the Light.

For a complete schedule of screenings, visit the Environmental Film Festival’s website.


Posted: 25 February 2011
About the Author:

Alex di Giovanni has been editing The Torch since August 2006. Prior to joining the Smithsonian, she worked as a writer and editor for the National Geographic Society, Plexus Scientific, The Nature Conservancy, The National Foreign Language Center and St. Martin’s Press, among others. She has the best job in the world.