Festival To Feature Films on Global Environmental Issues

A special advance screening of the Disney film “Earth” and a documentary by rock star Madonna that chronicles the suffering of children in Malawi orphaned by AIDS will headline a Yale film festival intended to raise awareness of global environmental issues.

The 2009 Environmental Film Festival at Yale, to be held April 16-19, is sponsored by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. The festival will include feature-length documentaries and short films, as well as conversations with filmmakers, panel discussions and workshops that will explore issues raised in the films. In addition, a jury comprised of students, faculty and industry professionals will choose winners for Best Feature Film and Best Short Film, and festival attendees will vote to select one film for an Audience Award.

“Film is a unique medium to inform, educate and influence the public’s understanding of environmental issues,” says Eric Desatnik, a festival organizer and a master’s degree candidate at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. “We are hoping that the series is not only entertaining, but promotes reflection, further inquiry and environmental literacy.”

“Earth,” the first film in the Disneynature series, will be shown on Sunday, April 19, at 1 p.m. at Criterion Cinemas, 86 Temple St. The 99-minute-long film, narrated by James Earl Jones, captures the most intimate moments of the planet’s wildest and most elusive creatures on their journeys around the globe. It is directed by Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield, the creative team behind the Emmy Award-winning television show “Planet Earth.” The film will open in theaters on Earth Day, April 22.

Also on April 19, Madonna exposes the tragic stories of millions of Malawian children orphaned by AIDS and makes a call for action to stop the epidemic in the 90-minute-long film “I Am Because We Are.” The film will begin at 10 a.m. in the Whitney Humanities Center (WHC), 53 Wall St., and features interviews with former President Bill Clinton and Desmond Tutu, recipient of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize and vocal critic of apartheid in South Africa. Jeffrey Sachs, director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, and Phillippe van den Bossche, executive director of Raising Malawi, a non-profit co-founded by Madonna, will participate in a question-and-answer session following the screening.

Other films in the series are:

Thursday, April 16

“Food, Inc.,” which focuses on the nation’s food industry and reveals the truth about what we eat and how it’s produced. 91 minutes. 7 p.m., Criterion Cinemas.

Friday, April 17

“City of Cranes,” which features the accounts of the men and women who operate these ubiquitous machines. 14 minutes. 10 a.m., Rm. 101, Linsly-Chittenden Hall (LC), 63 High St.

“Gimme Green,” which takes a humorous look at the American obsession with the residential lawn and the effects it has on our environment, our wallets and our outlook on life. 27 minutes. 10 a.m., LC.

“Ten Thousand Shovels,” which uses satellite imagery, historic photos and contemporary film footage to illustrate the dramatic process of urbanization in southern China. 15 minutes. 10 a.m., LC.

“Fuel,” which explores how alternative and sustainable energies can reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels, and features interviews with Woody Harrelson, Sheryl Crow and Larry Hagman. 111 minutes. 12:30 p.m. Davies Auditorium, Becton Center, 15 Prospect St.

“Crude” (East Coast premiere), which chronicles a 13-year-long battle between communities nearly destroyed by oil drilling and development, and Chevron, one of the biggest companies on Earth. 100 minutes. 4 p.m. Davies Auditorium.

“Trouble the Water,” an Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary, which offers a redemptive tale of two self-described street hustlers who become heroes during Hurricane Katrina and then seize a chance for a new beginning. 96 minutes. 7:30 p.m. Davies Auditorium.

Saturday, April 18

“Milking the Rhino,” which examines the deepening conflict between humans and animals in rural Africa. 83 minutes. 10 a.m. WHC.

“Earth Days” (New England premiere), which recounts the history of the modern environmental movement from its beginnings nearly four decades ago. 100 minutes. 1 p.m. WHC.

“Cheat Neutral,” which offers a unique market-based solution to infidelity: For the cost of a condom, those who have cheated on their partners can have their cheating “offset” by a global network of fidelity. 5 minutes. 4:30 p.m. WHC.

“The Garden,” an Oscar-nominated documentary which follows a group of low-income families struggling to protect a 14-acre urban farm in the middle of south central Los Angeles from bureaucratic real estate developers. 104 minutes. 4:30 p.m. WHC.

“Sharkwater,” which debunks historical stereotypes and media depictions of sharks as bloodthirsty, man-eating monsters. 95 minutes. 7:30 p.m. WHC.

“Attack of the Sea Slugs,” which follows the path of these creatures, which have an acquired taste for sea pens in Puget Sound. 6 minutes. GPSCY Bar, 204 York St.

“I Live in the Woods.” 4 minutes. 10 p.m. GPSCY Bar.

“In Treevenge,” which is a tale of Christmas trees that decide to fight back. 15 minutes, 10 p.m. GPSCY Bar.

“Grocery Store Wars,” which is a takeoff on “Star Wars” and features Cuke Skywalker, Ham Solo, Chewbroccoli and Obi Wan Cannoli doing battle with Darth Tader, evil lord of the Dark Side of the Farm. 5 minutes. 10 p.m., GPSCY Bar. Sunday, April 19

“The Queen of Trees,” which depicts one of nature’s oddest couples: a tiny wasp and a giant sycamore. Without the wasp, the tree could not pollinate its flowers and produce seeds, and without the fig, the wasp would have nowhere to lay its eggs. 55 minutes. 3:30 p.m. WHC.

“Ice Bears of the Beaufort” (New England premiere) an award-winning high-definition film that examines why polar bears have more than climate change to worry about. 52 minutes. 3:30 p.m. WHC.

“Saving Luna,” which looks at what happens when an orca begins interacting with humans on Vancouver Island. 92 minutes. 6:30 p.m. Davies Auditorium.

All screenings and events are free and open to the public; doors will open a half hour prior to each screening. For more information, visit www.environment.yale.edu/film or contact the festival’s executive directors, Eric Desatnik (eric.desatnik@yale.edu) or Tamar Cooper (tamar.cooper@yale.edu).

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