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18th Annual Environmental Film Festival returns to Eckerd

By Tom Scherberger
Published January 15, 2016
Categories: Academics, Environmental Studies, Film Studies, Public Events

The 18th Annual Visions of Nature/Voices of Nature Environmental Film Festival at Eckerd College runs Feb. 19-27, featuring compelling and important films to raise awareness and promote discussion of matters relating to nature, place and the environment.

Movie posters from the 18th annual Environmental Film Festival

It is free and open to the public.

This year’s festival includes two films—Embrace the Serpent and How to Let Go of the World (and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change)—that will be shown just weeks after they are featured at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

Each screening includes an introduction and discussion by the filmmakers or film scholars. Audience questions and discussion are encouraged.

The subjects of this year’s festival range from climate change to the uncertain fate of songbirds.

The festival’s aim is to engage the audience in a lively dialogue about the environmental perspectives contained in the films.

The festival is organized by Catherine Griggs, Ph.D., program coordinator and associate professor of American Studies, and by Nathan Andersen, Ph.D., professor of philosophy and film studies. for Complete details about each film are available at the festival website.

Major support for the festival is provided by the Phoenix Venture Philanthropy Foundation.

Film Festival Schedule

Friday, February 19, 7 p.m.
Explorations in the Amazon: Embrace of the Serpent
Director Ciro Guerra (Spanish, 125 min., 2015)
Introduced by Elizabeth Weatherford, Founding Director of the Film and Video
Center of the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution

The Amazonian shaman Karamakate guides two white explorers through the jungle in search of the yakruna, a sacred plant—once as a young man and once when he is much older and has forgotten many of his traditional ways. This international co-production was inspired by the travel diaries of the German explorer Theodor Koch Grunberg (1872–1924) and the American explorer Richard Evans Schultes (1915–2001), which offer the only known accounts of some Amazonian peoples who no longer exist. The film won the Art Cinema Award at the Cannes Film Festival, is an official selection at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and was selected as the Colombian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards.

Saturday, February 20, 7 p.m.
Nature’s Song: The Messenger
Director Su Rynard (English, 84 min., 2015)
Introduced by Su Rynard

This wide-ranging and contemplative documentary explores our deep connection to birds and warns that the uncertain fate of songbirds might mirror our own. Moving from the northern reaches of the Boreal Forest to the base of Mount Ararat in Turkey to the streets of New York City, the film brings us face to face with a remarkable variety of human-made perils that have devastated thrushes, warblers, orioles, tanagers, grosbeaks and many other airborne music makers. It is an engaging, visually stunning, emotional journey.

Sunday, February 21, 2 p.m.
Urban Gardening: Can You Dig This?
Director Delila Vallot (English, 80 min., 2015)
Introduced by Dr. Kent Curtis, Assistant Professor of History, The Ohio State University

An upbeat documentary examining the urban gardening revolution in South Central Los Angeles, one of the largest food deserts in the country, this film follows the inspirational personal journeys of five “gangster gardeners,” all planting seeds for a better life.

Monday, February 22, 7 p.m.
Florida Wild: The Forgotten Coast
Director Eric Bendick (English, 55 min., 2015)
Introduced by Mallory Lykes Dimmitt, Executive Director, The Florida Wildlife Corridor

A follow-up to the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition, The Forgotten Coast follows conservationist and expedition leader Mallory Lykes Dimmitt, black bear biologist Joe Guthrie and celebrated nature photographer Carlton Ward Jr. as they leave civilization behind and become immersed in a vast and unexplored wildlife corridor stretching from the Everglades to the Florida-Alabama border.

Tuesday, February 23, 7 p.m.
Climate Courage: This Changes Everything
Director Avi Lewis (English, 89 min., 2015)
Introduced by Darden Rice ’00, Vice Chair, St. Petersburg City Council

Based on the best-selling book with the same name by Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything is an epic attempt to re-imagine the vast challenge of climate change. Filmed over 211 days in nine countries and five continents over four years, the film presents seven powerful portraits of communities on the front lines, from Montana’s Powder River Basin to the Alberta Tar Sands and beyond. Klein builds to her most controversial and exciting idea: that we can seize the existential crisis of climate change to transform our failed economic system into something radically better.

Wednesday, February 24, 7 p.m.
Saving Species: Racing Extinction
Director Louie Psihoyos (English, 90 min., 2015)
Introduced by Gina Papabeis, Co-Producer, Racing Extinction

The Academy Award–winning team behind The Cove is back, with a team of artists and activists intent on showing the world never-before-seen images that expose the culprits responsible for endangering species throughout the world, leading to an unprecedented mass extinction. This could be the biggest story in the world, and we are collectively doing very little about it.

Thursday, February 25, 7 p.m.
Down Under: Charlie’s Country
Director Rolf de Heer (English, 108 min., 2013)
Introduced by Dr. Nathan Andersen, Professor of Philosophy and Film Studies, Eckerd College

Charlie, a once-proud aboriginal warrior who had long ago danced before the queen of England, now lives in squalor in an Australian reservation where he sees his people being treated like children by the white authorities. One day, fed up with it all, he leaves that life behind and heads into the woods, living the old way. Director Heer’s film Twelve Canoes played at the 2010 Visions of Nature/Voices of Nature Environmental Film Festival.

Friday, February 26, 7 p.m.
Cosmic Waters: The Pearl Button
Director Patricio Guzmán (English, 82 min., 2015)
Introduced by Dr. James Deutsch, Program Curator, Smithsonian Institution; Adjunct Professor of American Studies, George Washington University

A gorgeously filmed meditation on the importance of water by the acclaimed Chilean documentary filmmaker who created Nostalgia for the Light. The film alternates between the cosmic and the local, between the past and the present, between the timely and the timeless, between the environmental and the political.

Saturday, February 27, 7 p.m.
Environmental Hopes: How to Let Go of the World (and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change)
Director Josh Fox (English, 125 min., 2016)
Introduced by Members of the Film’s Production Team

After a local victory in which community activists were able to prohibit fracking in the Delaware River Basin where he grew up, filmmaker Josh Fox (Gasland and Gasland II) wants to just celebrate and enjoy nature for a while. Then Hurricane Sandy hits New York City and he realizes the struggle isn’t over. He decides to focus on people around the world who are working for environmental change through civil disobedience, art, alternative energy and democracy, concluding that the collective drive to make a difference is the one thing climate can’t change. The film will premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

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