Let me share some of my favorite moments of Cinema Verde with you:

 

  • More than 100 local students created environmentally themed works, which were displayed at the Harn Museum of Art, branches of the Alachua County Public Library, and at Eco Fair. Participating students were invited to view free Cinema Verde matinees at the museum.
  • Young writers read their literary essays for us in advance of the film Submission at the Old Florida Theater. Those who stayed to watch the film enjoyed Skype chatting with Michael Stanley-Jones from the United Nations (U.N.) Environment Programme in Geneva, Switzerland, who sent us the film as part of the Safe Planet Campaign. Submission details the discovery of our bodies’ burdens of synthetic chemicals – a problem the U.N. is trying to address worldwide and which will be discussed at the U.N. Commission for Sustainable Development meeting in New York City in May. World leaders will meet with chemical companies to develop a resolution to discontinue the proliferation of persistent organic chemicals that permeate our air, soil, water, and bodies and can cause developmental difficulties and disease.
  • On the same evening, Eco Pecha Kucha was held nearby at Volta Coffee, where a dozen people described their environmental projects with slide presentations before a packed crowd of enthusiastic listeners.
  • One of the most heart-wrenching films of the festival was Earthlings, which details the many ways humans interact inhumanely with animals. Painful as it was to watch, the crowd was riveted through the entire 95-minute film, which was narrated by lifelong vegan and actor Joaquin Phoenix, who hails from Gainesville. His mother, Heart Phoenix, led a discussion following the film to help viewers process this important information that makes many want to revise the way we view, live with, and consume animals. 
  • We screened the film Tapped, about the water bottling industry, on the University of Florida campus. Casey Fitzgerald, who works with the local St. Johns River Water Management District, talked with the audience afterward and helped motivate students to begin a movement to ban plastic bottles on campus and, perhaps, even in the city.
  • Eco Artwalk was a huge success, with dozens of artists displaying work at many galleries around downtown, performance art, puppetry, and a public mural painting on the Sun Center Plaza. Thomas Arthur presented his Earthanima show at Sharab Lounge, and hundreds of patrons enjoyed the displays.
  • A special guest attended the screening of Green Fire, a film about the life and work of famed conservationist Aldo Leopold. Stanley Temple – Beers-Bascom professor emeritus in conservation in the University of Wisconsin Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, former chair of the Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development Program Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and senior fellow of the Aldo Leopold Foundation – spoke with us about creating the film. He shared interesting experiences and discoveries made by the team as they delved into Leopold’s life. The film is named Green Fire because that’s how Leopold described the life he saw extinguishing in the eyes of a wolf he’d killed on a hunting expedition. The film described how he became a conservationist through the course of his life working in forestry, and realized the need to protect all wildlife (including wolves), even if they seem threatening to us. Leopold realized that the natural balance of flora and fauna was more valuable to us than a land that has been robbed of its natural inhabitants. 
  • Nearly 150 Bike Florida participants joined us on Bo Diddley Community Plaza in downtown Gainesville for screenings of Riding with the Dutch and clips from Noah and Tim Hussin, brothers pedaling recycled road bikes across the United States, filming radical efforts to relocalize culture and community: go to AmericaReCycled.org. Their clips won Cinema Verde’s Best New Filmmaker award – Tim is a graduate of the University of Florida Film School. The Bike Florida riders set out on their weeklong tour of our region the next morning.

 

Cinema Verde is a nascent environmental film and arts festival, and we encountered many challenges as we brought 25 films to the public at 10 venues. But we are grateful to all who helped and supported our efforts to highlight the environmental issues we face and to present sustainable solutions that will help us move our planet and society forward to a healthier future for our children.

 

– Trish Riley

 

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