I'm Faith Lapidus.
And I'm Bob
Doughty with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. The Environmental Film Festival in Washington,
D.C., has been bringing movies to America's capital for seventeen years. This
year, the twelve-day festival showed more than one hundred and thirty movies
from thirty-four countries.
movies were shown in fifty-two museums, embassies, and other places around the
city this month. Many movies were about the state of the world's oceans and sea
life. The aim of the festival is to
educate people about environmental issues affecting our planet.
"After feeding the world for hundreds of years, we showed our gratitude by
nearly wiping cod off the face of the earth. Today, the species is on the verge
of extinction. And for the fisherman of Aveiro, the consequences have been
was from the movie "The State of the Planet's Oceans" made by Hal and Marilyn
Weiner. Its first public showing took place during the film festival at the
National Museum of Natural History. The movie tells about the effects of
overfishing on local economies and on the health of the oceans. The movie also
shows how climate change is threatening this ecosystem. In a striking closing
scene, the ocean expert Sylvia Earle talks about the importance of protecting
the beautiful world that lives under the sea.
We asked audience member James Edwards how
watching a movie about the environment can affect people.
EDWARDS: "I think a film like this can make a difference by raising people's
awareness of not only the problems that are out there, because a lot of films
are gloom and doom, but solutions that are out there. What are other people
doing, what can you do?"
Mister Edwards is an
independent filmmaker in Washington, so he is very interested in the work that
other people are doing. And, he says the subject of oceans interests him
especially because he has been scuba diving since he was a child.
Museum of Natural History showed many other movies about the ocean. These
included "Fisheye Fantasea" which explores how fish see in the ocean. "Cracking
the Ocean Code" is about the work of scientist J. Craig Venter. In the movie he
travels around the world documenting the genetic information of small sea
Library of Congress, festival visitors could watch "The Silent World" directed
by Jacques Cousteau and Louis Malle. When this movie came out in nineteen
fifty-six, it was the first to show scuba diving exploration to the world. The movie takes place during a trip across
the Mediterranean, Red Sea and Indian Ocean.
The Environmental Film Festival in Washington was started by Flo Stone. We
asked her what gave her the idea to begin this event.
STONE: "I founded the festival in nineteen ninety-three. I'd worked on other
film festivals, one on cultural diversity at the Natural History Museum in New
York City. But in Washington, I thought it would be wonderful to do a festival
on the environment very broadly, cooperating with many museums, universities,
libraries, environmental organizations and even embassies from around the
Stone says the National Museum of Natural History asked if this year's festival
could pay special attention to the subject of oceans.
STONE: "What is happening in the ocean films, of course, is the technology is
so phenomenal. You can film the deepest parts of the ocean. You can track a
shark that swims from Australia all the way to southern Africa and back. So,
the ocean theme has been extremely popular and exciting."
movies at the festival were about oceans. One movie shown at the National
Building Museum is called "Designing a Great Neighborhood: Behind the Scenes at
Holiday." It tells about building a community
housing project in Boulder, Colorado. The future owners of the houses work
together with different building designers to create environmentally safe
houses that do not pollute.
"When solar panels supply both hot water and space heating, the goal of zero
emissions begins to look achievable."
neighbors consider choices including solar energy, clean water and plantings.
movie gives an interesting lesson in how city communities can come together to
build healthy and safe housing that is not costly.
movies at the festival examined trash in different parts of the world. "Cartoneros"
was shown at the Embassy of Argentina.
director, Ernesto Livon-Grosman, was there to introduce his film. The movie is about trash pickers who collect
paper in the streets of Buenos Aires. Then they sell the paper to sorting centers
who prepare trash for recycling.
The movie shows many people
criticizing the work of the cartoneros. But in a country that was suffering a
major recession, this kind of work was a good way for unemployed people to make
money. And, the cartoneros provide a service to the city that is
documentary "Recycled Life" tells about people living in the garbage collection
area in Guatemala City. The movie tells about the many families who live and
In "Marina of the Zabbaleen"
director Engi Wassef explores a group of Christian garbage collectors in Cairo
called the Zabbaleen. The film is presented through the eyes of a seven year
old girl named Marina. The movie is about garbage and recycling but also about
family, culture, and spirituality.
The Canadian movie "Addicted to
Plastic" is about plastic pollution. It was filmed over three years in twelve
countries. The film explores ways to reduce the harmful effects of plastic
waste. And it looks at new developments such as plastic made from plants.
of the festival's events honored the German filmmaker Werner Herzog. The
natural environment plays an important role in his documentaries and other
movies. For example, you could see his documentary "Encounters at the End of
the World" which came out in two thousand seven.
HERZOG: "These images taken under the ice of the Ross Sea in Antarctica were
the reason I wanted to go to this continent. The pictures were taken by a
friend of mine, one of these expert divers."
In this movie, Herzog meets the many workers and researchers
who live at McMurdo station in Antarctica. He learns about different projects
that the scientists are working on.
Werner Herzog's movie
"Grizzly Man" tells about the bear expert Timothy Treadwell who lived with and
studied bears in the state of Alaska.
"Fitzcarraldo" is a Herzog film that was released in nineteen
eighty-two. It tells the story of Carlos Fitzcarraldo, a rubber producer in
This character fights against the forces of
nature to try to realize his dream of building a performance center in Iquitos,
Several of the movies at the Environmental
Film Festival dealt with food and agriculture. The Swedish film "Cows Are Nice"
looks at cow farmers trying to make a living in the milk industry.
the Brazilian movie "Mister Bene Goes to Italy", a manioc flour producer
travels from Brazil to Italy. There, he meets small farmers from around the world
who are interested in the "slow food" movement.
"Return of the Honeybee" was
shown at the Carnegie Institute for Science. It explores the political and
economic effects caused by the disappearance of honeybees. The film shows the
important role these bees play in the world's food chain.
movie "Nora!" examines the career of restaurant owner and cook Nora Pouillon.
Her restaurant in Washington, D.C. had the first officially organic kitchen in
the United States. She has become an important leader in the organic and local
Stone says that this year's festival was so popular they had to turn crowds
away because there was no room for all the people who wanted to see the movies.
Here she explains part of why these
films are so popular.
STONE: "I feel that film takes you to places. It introduces you to people all
over the world. You get to hear their voices. It inspires you. And the variety
of the films is what is so exciting."
The Environmental Film
Festival in Washington plays an important role in helping increase
understanding about a subject that is important for people all over the world.
program was written and produced by Dana Demange. I'm Bob Doughty.
I'm Faith Lapidus. You
can download podcasts from our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for Explorations in
VOA Special English.