Films Explore Critical Environmental Issues

A talk by veteran newsman Dan Rather about the role of journalism in promoting environmental justice; a discussion with the director of “Houston We Have a Problem,” a documentary about how the oil industry must adapt to meet the United States’ future energy needs; and a sneak-peek at the soon-to-be-released Disneynature film “Oceans” — these will be among the highlights of the 2010 Environmental Film Festival at Yale (EFFY), to be held April 6-11.

Organized by students, the festival will showcase cutting-edge films that raise awareness of current environmental and related social issues.

“This festival is about using the power of film to educate audiences about critical environmental issues that need the attention of the global community. It’s about moving people to look outside their world, act and become agents of change,” says Mary Fisher, a student at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and one of the organizers of the program.

The films cover a broad range of domestic and international environmental issues — from the devastating effects of overfishing, to questions about traditional farming culture, to America’s “culture of waste,” to the use of chemicals in the banana fields of Nicaragua, and more.

Twelve of the 20 offerings are international environmental issues — from the devastating effects of overfishing, to questions about traditional farming culture to America’s “culture of waste” to the use of chemicals in the banana fields of Nicaragua, and more.

Twelve of the 20 offerings are international films, and two of them — “The Cove” and “Logorama” — won Oscars at this year’s Academy Awards.

The truth about oil

The festival will open with a screening of “Houston We Have a Problem” at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 6, in the Whitney Humanities Center (WHC), 53 Wall St. The film steps inside the energy capital of the world to see the hard truths about oil, from the Texas oilmen themselves.

The film will be shown with the short film “Hansaari A,” an experimental documentary about the changing cityscape of Helsinki and the final moments of a coal-fired power plant.

After the screenings, there will be a discussion with director Nicole Torre and cast member Matthew Simmons, one of the world’s leading experts on the topic of peak oil, and moderated by Douglas Kysar, the Joseph M. Field ‘55 Professor of Law at Yale Law School.

Journalism and the environment

“A Conversation with Dan Rather: Journalism, Justice and the Environment” will take place at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 8, at WHC. At the event, which is sponsored by the Poynter Fellowship in Journalism at Yale, Rather will discuss his career, the world of journalism today and the role of media in bringing to light important truths. He will also present never-before-seen clips from a work-in-progress television piece about environmental conditions along the Louisiana gulf coast.

Rather is currently anchor and managing editor of “Dan Rather Reports,” which began broadcasting on HDNet in 2006. Previously, he was anchor and managing editor of “CBS Evening News” from 1981 to 2005 — the longest such tenure in broadcast journalism history.


There will be a special advance screening of “Oceans,” the new film by Disneynature, the studio that produced the record-breaking film “Earth,” at 11 a.m. on Sunday, April 11, at Criterion Cinemas, 86 Temple St.

The film, which will be released in theaters on Earth Day, April 22, offers an unprecedented look beneath the sea featuring never-before-seen imagery captured by the latest underwater technologies.

“Oceans” will be screened along with the animated short “Skylight,” a mock documentary about the ecological plight of penguins in the Antarctic.

Other offerings

In addition to the forementioned films, other works being screened during the festival include: “The Blood of the Rose,” about the life and brutal death of filmmaker-turned-conservative Joan Root; “The End of the Line,” about the devastating effects of industrial fishing; “Dive!” about the excessive waste of food by grocery stores; “Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home,” about those in farming and animal husbandry who are now questioning their way of life; “Bananas!” about Nicaraguan banana workers exposed to the pesticide Nemagon; and “Gasland,” about the consequences of “fracking,” a new technology for getting natural gas out of the ground.

For a complete schedule and descriptions of the films, visit All screenings are free and open to the public.

Audience favorite

A jury comprised of students and faculty will choose one feature film and one short film to receive EFFY Grand Jury Prizes and audiences will choose one feature to receive the EFFY Audience Award, based on a balloting system.

Major sponsors of the 2010 festival include The Study at Yale Hotel, alumnus Adam Wolfensohn, Films at the Whitney, Edun Live, Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology, Yale Environment 360, Thermos and ecosystem Notebooks.

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