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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More