A town’s green renewal after being decimated by a tornado. The community impact of a major shopping mall. A ghost town’s transformation into an eco-village. If you’d like to learn more about any of these topics, along with a host of other environmental themes, you’ll want to check out D.C.’s annual Environmental Film Festival, starting tomorrow. Now in its 18th year, the festival allows Washingtonians to experience documentaries, fictional stories and discussions with filmmakers that celebrate the wonder of the natural world and illuminate the growing challenges to life on earth. This year’s event will be the biggest yet, with 155 films. The focus of the 2010 festival is the vital connection between food and the environment, but other issues range from green business practices to renewable energy to mountaintop removal mining. Most of the screenings are free, and shows are held in various venues around town. Take a look at the full schedule for more information.
To help you sort through the offerings, here are our picks – the films most directly related to cities, urban planning, and transportation. Check ‘em out, and let us know what you think. Share your opinions and suggestions with other movie-goers by submitting comments on this post.
Greensburg (3/16/10, 7:00 pm, National Cable and Telecommunications Association, free): Follows the sustainable rebirth of Greensburg, Kansas after it was devastated by a tornado in 2007.
Un Petit Coin de Paradis (3/17/10, 6:30 pm, Embassy of Switzerland, free): Three generations attempt to transform a Swiss ghost town into an exemplary eco-village.
Moving Midway (3/18/10, 6:30 pm, National Building Museum, tickets $12 for museum non-members): Filmmaker Godfrey Cheshire returns to Midway Plantation, his ancestral home in North Carolina, only to find that his cousin is planning to relocate the buildings to escape suburban sprawl. Through the telling of this family controversy, the film looks back at the history of plantations.
Cooked (3/21/10, 3:00 pm, Carnegie Institute for Science, free): A work in progress, this film tells the story of the 739 Chicago citizens who died in the 1995 heat wave and examines the politics of poverty and crisis in American cities.
Home (3/21/10, 4:30 pm, National Gallery of Art, free): The tale of a boisterous middle-class family enjoying a peaceful existence in a simple house that lies on a lush, grassy field next to an abandoned highway – until construction on the desolate highway suddenly begins, changing the rhythm of their lives.
Traffic (3/21/10, 7:30 pm, AFI Silver Theatre, tickets $10 for general admission): French director Jacques Tati takes a farcical look at modern life coming to a screeching halt when the main character tricks out his car with all the latest gadgets – with calamitous results.
A Necessary Ruin: The Story of Buckminster Fuller and the Union Tank Car Dome (3/22/10, 6:30 pm, National Building Museum, tickets $12 for museum non-members): The Union Tank Car Dome, located north of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was the largest clear-span structure in the world when it was built in 1958. The film tells the story of the dome’s construction, decline and demolition.
Art without Walls: The Making of the Olympic Sculpture Park (3/25/10, 5:30 pm, Dumbarton Oaks, free): This film documents the creation of Seattle’s new Olympic Sculpture Park, which transformed a polluted fuel storage site in the heart of the city into a public green space that combines contemporary art with natural beauty.
Megamall (3/25/10, 6:30 pm, National Building Museum, tickets $12 for museum non-members): Twelve years in the making, “Megamall” documents the origins of the massive Palisades Center Mall and its impact on the suburban community of West Nyack, New York.
Auto*Mat (3/25/10, 7:00 pm, Embassy of the Czech Republic, free): Through a unique combination of animation, music and home video segments, “Auto*Mat” protests against the tyranny of the car and automobile traffic.
“E2 Transport”: Food Miles (3/25/10, 7:00 pm, Maret School, free): In the 21st century global food economy, most foods travel an average of 1,500 miles from farm to plate. This film introduces a broad range of ideas to lessen the environmental impact of the international food market and address the crisis of fossil fuel dependence.
Division Street (3/26/10, 6:00 pm, National Academy of Sciences, free): While chronicling a quest to visit the most remote place from any road in the lower 48 states, the film examines green highway technology and wildlife corridors and calls for innovation to shape the growing green transportation movement.
Last Call for Planet Earth (3/27/10, 6:00 pm, National Academy of Sciences, free): Twelve leading architects from around the world share their visions on architecture that respects nature.
Though it’s not directly related to cities or transport, we’d like to make a special note of Climate Refugees (3/24/10, 6:00 pm, World Resources Institute, free), as it was produced by the World Resources Institute, the affiliate organization of EMBARQ, which produces this blog. The film looks at the emerging phenomenon of climate refugees, people displaced by climatically induced environmental disasters. Mass global migration and border conflicts are now resulting from climate change-related occurrences, but victims cannot get asylum.