Environmental Films at the Woods Hole Film Festival

July 31, 2010

Still from “Climate Refugees”

The Woods Hole Film Festival begins tonight with “Climate Refugees: The Human Face of Climate Change,” a documentary about people displaced by

climate-induced environmental disasters. It is one of several environmentally themed films in the festival, which also features outdoor screenings on Project Green Screen, a wind and solar powered system, and a Green Shuttle, which provides transportation to and from Falmouth on opening and closing nights.

“Climate Refugees” (89 min. 2009) will be shown tonight at 7 PM in Redfield Auditorium. It reveals the human effects of droughts, desertification, sea level rise, floods, hurricanes, cyclones, fires, and tornados. In addition to immediate misery, there are longer term impacts on global migration and border conflicts.

According to the film, there are more refugees now displaced by environmental disasters than by war: more than 25 million climate refugees (ecologically induced migrants), and experts expect that number to double within the next five years to over 50 million. Yet, there are no international laws giving asylum or assistance to environmental refugees.

Here is the trailer from the film:

Filmmaker Mike Nash and producer Justin Hogan will participate in a panel discussion about Climate Refugees on Sunday, August 1, at 2 PM.

Chilean Patagonia

“Tracking Patagonia” (52 min., 2010) will have its world premiere at the festival. Directed by Sarah Athanas, a former Bourne resident who now lives in Argentina, the film traces the path of a young American film crew (including Sarah) as they travel by bicycle and raft through the Patagonia region of Chile, talking to the people, learning about the region, and taking in the breathtaking mountain and lake scenery.

The land is threatened by a proposal to build five hydroelectric dams in the region, forever altering the flow of the five rivers in the region, and the lives of its people. It is a difficult problem for Chile and its people, as Chile needs a new source of electricity. Most of its energy resources come from Argentina. Yet, the hydroelectric dams would serve the needs of the Santiago area, far to the north, not the needs of the Patagonian people they would displace.

It is a beautiful film, visually, and one that has implications for many regions where energy and the environment are at odds.

The film will be shown on Tuesday, August 3, at 5 PM, in Redfield Auditorium.

“Living Downstream” (85 min., 2010) is a documentary by Chandra Chevannes. It follows Sandra Steingraber, an ecologist and cancer survivor, who looks into the environmental causes of cancer. She was diagnosed with bladder cancer at the age of 20; cancer was prevalent in her family, but she was adopted, leading her to wonder if there might be environmental, rather than only genetic , causes of the cancer in her family.

She looks at the influence of pesticides and the work done by Rachel Carson. There are some disturbing archival shots of children following pesticide trucks as they spray poisons into the community, and an ad proclaiming “DDT is Good for Meeee!”

She also looks at PCBs in Buzzards Bay (which once had one of the highest concentrations of PCBs anywhere) and in the leaf litter in far-north White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Part of her research involves meeting with George Woodwell, founder, director emeritus, and senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center.

It is time, she says, to work on preventing cancer, rather than focusing solely on curing it.

“Living Downstream” will be shown at 6 PM on Monday, August 2, in the Old Woods Hole Fire Station.

“Queen of the Sun” (83 min., 2010) is a documentary by Taggart Siegel about the global bee crisis, exploring the disappearance of bees and life in the hive. It will be screened Monday at 7 PM in the Old Woods Hole Fire Station.

“Burning in the Sun” (82 min., 2010), directed by Cambria Matlow and Morgan Robinson, is a documentary about Daniel Dembele and his efforts to bring solar power to Mali. Nearly all the rural communities lack power, and his vision is to build solar panels to bring electricity to these areas. He begins in the small village of Banko. The film deals with the larger issues of climate change, poverty, and African self-sufficiency, as well as his growth, and what it takes for a nation to prosper.

The film will be shown on Friday, August 6, at 7 PM.

For more information on the festival, visit www.woodsholefilmfestival.org, or call 508-495-3456.

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One thought on “Environmental Films at the Woods Hole Film Festival

  1. Hello and thank you for this article. So-called environmentally induced migration is multi-level problem. According to Essam El-Hinnawi definition form 1985 environmental refugees as those people who have been forced to leave their traditional habitat, temporarily or permanently, because of a marked environmental disruption (natural or triggered by people) that jeopardised their existence and/or seriously affected the quality of their life. The fundamental distinction between `environmental migrants` and `environmental refugees` is a standpoint of contemporsry studies in EDPs.

    According to Bogumil Terminski it seems reasonable to distinguish the general category of environmental migrants from the more specific (subordinate to it) category of environmental refugees.

    Environmental migrants, therefore, are persons making a short-lived, cyclical, or longerterm change of residence, of a voluntary or forced character, due to specific environmental factors. Environmental refugees form a specific type of environmental migrant.

    Environmental refugees, therefore, are persons compelled to spontaneous, short-lived, cyclical, or longer-term changes of residence due to sudden or gradually worsening changes in environmental factors important to their living, which may be of either a short-term or an irreversible character.

    According to Norman Myers environmental refugees are “people who can no longer gain a secure livelihood in their homelands because of drought, soil erosion, desertification, deforestation and other environmental problems, together with associated problems of population pressures and profound poverty”.

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