News / USA

Documentaries Explore Quest for Energy

Washington D.C. Environmental Film Festival showcases works from 40 countries

Swiss director Mark Wolfensberger's 'Oil Rocks - City Above the Sea,' looks at the first and largest offshore oil-drilling platform ever built. The unique Soviet-era oil city was built in 1949.
Swiss director Mark Wolfensberger's 'Oil Rocks - City Above the Sea,' looks at the first and largest offshore oil-drilling platform ever built. The unique Soviet-era oil city was built in 1949.

Multimedia

Zulima Palacio

From the documentary "Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air," to films about our endangered oceans and our threatened forests, there's plenty of variety at the Environmental Film Festival in Washington, D.C. However, a special focus this year is the Energy Film Series, a diverse collection of international documentaries about our quest for energy and the challenge that poses to our fragile environment.

The 19th annual festival showcases 150 documentary, feature and animated films from 40 countries. The festival screenings, which are held at dozens of theaters across the city, typically draw big crowds and help to raise public awareness of a broad array of environmental issues.  

The winner of the festival's special award for Artistry in Film is Swiss director Mark Wolfensberger's “Oil Rocks - City Above the Sea” (La Cite du Petrol) a portrait of the first and largest offshore oil-drilling platform ever built. The director and co-founder of the festival, Flo Stone, says the unique Soviet-era oil city, built in 1949, provides a compelling subject for this exceptional film.

“Its about a huge city built by Stalin in the Caspian Sea that is still functioning with nine story buildings, acres of oil rigs and buildings and beautifully film," says Stone. "It interviews many people and really utilizes historic footage.”

The oil industry is the subject of several other films.“The Pipe,” tells the unsettling story of how an oil pipeline built near a pristine stretch of Irish coastline brings dramatic change to the lives of local farmers and fishermen.  

The festival's 150 films include not only documentaries but also animated, archival and experimental films. And while they represent the work of artists from 40 countries, there are some gaps.

“I wish we had more films from Africa," Stone says. "We have films about Africa, but I wish we had more African films, I think we’ll be looking for that next year.”

One noteworthy film from the continent is “White Lion.” The South African feature documentary by director Michael Swan is in tune with the worldwide movement to save endangered big cats. It tells the story of a rare white lion - a messenger of the gods, in African legend - who faces a challenge greater than the harsh African wilderness: trophy hunters, who value the lion's unique skin far more than they do his legendary mission.

Another highlight of the festival is a powerful Swedish movie, “Submission,” by director Stephan Jarl. The film examines some of the more than 100,000 chemicals that we routinely encounter, some on a daily basis. The film features interviews with scientists from around the world.

“We are sitting on a ticking bomb," says writer and biologist Stefan Edman."Since the second World War, our use of chemicals has skyrocketed; from one million tons per year then, to 500 million tons now.”

For "Submission" writer and director Stephan Jarl, his film was a personal journey, too.  Jarl says the movie has been popular around the world. According to Jarl, after it was shown in Sweden, the Swedish government announced it was setting up a four year program to reduce chemicals in relation to children and new born.

“Three hundred chemicals are in newborn babies today. They are pre-polluted and that is awful," says Jarl. "Fifteen percent of kids in school nowadays have neurological diseases.”

On a lighter note, the documentary “A Community of Gardeners” celebrates Washington D.C.'s suburban community gardens. Producer Cintia Cabib says the gardens not only provide fresh produce, they also serve as places of peace and healing, outdoor classrooms for children and for many immigrants, a way to remember their homeland.

“There is a community garden renaissance throughout the United States," says Cabib. "In Washington D.C. and beyond there is a huge waiting list for people who want to have a community garden plot.”

Last year, more than 26,000 people attended the D.C. Environmental Film Festival during its two-week run, taking in not just the movies but also lectures by renowned scientists and discussions with filmmakers. With rising public concerns about climate change and the environment, festival planners are hoping for an even bigger turnout  this year.

You May Like

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs