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

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes 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.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

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