The Princeton Environmental Film Festival, courtesy of the Princeton Public Library, returns next week, Oct. 12-24.
The virtual festival includes 33 films, 13 feature length and 20 shorts. And best of all: all screenings are available for free (you just have to sign up for a free account via the Eventive platform to watch). Screen films for a limited time on your computer or smart TV.
Now, onto the actual content of the festival. The shorts and feature length films cast a wide net on environmental issues and the people who are fighting them and, in some cases, dealing with the effects of climate change. Though there’s a lot to learn, and that begs for change, in these films… there’s also room for a lot of hope and humor. Here’s a few to check out:
‘Truffle Hunters’: Deep in the forests of Piedmont, Italy, a handful of men, 70 or 80 years young, hunt for the rare and expensive white Alba truffle—which to date has resisted all of modern science’s efforts at cultivation. They’re guided by a secret culture and training passed down through generations, as well as by the noses of their cherished and expertly-trained dogs. They live a simpler, slower way of life, in harmony with their loyal animals and their picture-perfect land, seemingly straight out of a fairy tale. They’re untethered to cell phone screens or the Internet, opting instead to make their food and drink by hand and prioritizing in-person connections and community. The demand for white truffles increases year after year, even as the supply decreases. As a result of climate change, deforestation, and the lack of young people taking up the mantle, the truffle hunters’ secrets are more coveted than ever. However, as it soon becomes clear, these aging men may just hold something much more valuable than even this prized delicacy: the secret to a rich and meaningful life.
‘Fast Fashion: The Real Price of Low-Cost Fashion’: The planet is being overwhelmed with clothes. Close to 56 million tonnes of clothes are sold every year. In Europe, the amount purchased has almost doubled since the year 2000. Thanks to fast disposable fashion, you can constantly renew your wardrobe. But producing clothes at such a low price has a very high environmental cost. Textiles are the second most polluting industry in the world, after oil. Creating a dress for ten euros in Europe, in less than a fortnight. It’s not only possible, but it’s becoming the norm. Since the fashion industry went down the path of fast fashion, it’s always both faster and cheaper – no matter the consequences. Let’s start with those suffering the most: the workers. They work between 12 and 15 hours a day for salaries less than half the legal minimum wage. And in abominable working conditions. Chemical products in textile factories often poison the workers and local residents. According to the brands, they no longer have time to create. In order to satisfy an insatiable consumer appetite, copying the competition’s models makes things go faster and cheaper – even if it means risking a court case now and then.
‘Bring Your Own Brigade:’ In early November 2018, raging wildfires killed 88 residents and destroyed tens of thousands of homes in the cities of Malibu and Paradise, two very different California communities. In her new verité documentary, two-time Oscar-nominated filmmaker Lucy Walker captures the heroism and horror of that unfathomable disaster. Her character-driven exposé, Bring Your Own Brigade, also answers a question humanity can no longer afford to ignore: Why are catastrophic wildfires increasing in number and severity around the world, and can anything be done to lessen the staggering death and destruction they cause? Drawing on hundreds of hours of astonishing wildfire footage and featuring interviews with survivors, firefighters and scientists, the film reveals that short of solving global warming there are numerous, often simple steps that can be taken to not only mitigate the catastrophic devastation caused by wildfires, but restore health and balance to woodlands that have been mismanaged for far too long. But does society have what it takes to put aside short-term interests and outmoded thinking to confront a crisis that’s quite literally burning our world to the ground?
‘The Ants and the Grasshopper’: Anita Chitaya has a gift; she can help bring abundant food from dead soil, she can make men fight for gender equality, and she can end child hunger in her village. Now, to save her home from extreme weather, she faces her greatest challenge: persuading Americans that climate change is real. Traveling from Malawi to California to the White House, she meets climate skeptics and despairing farmers. Her journey takes her across all the divisions shaping the US, from the rural-urban divide, to schisms of race, class and gender, to the thinking that allows Americans to believe we live on a different planet from everyone else. It will take all her skill and experience to persuade us that we’re all in this together. This documentary, 10 years in the making, weaves together the most urgent themes of our times: climate change, gender and racial inequality, the gaps between the rich and the poor, and the ideas that groups around the world have generated in order to save the planet.
Find more info and register for screenings here.