In tribute to the film “The Cove,” which received an Academy Award for Best Documentary last night, we’d like to replay the following video interview with Louie Psihoyos and Fisher Stevens — The Cove’s director and producer, respectively. Earthkeeper correspondent Annabelle Gurwitch caught up with the pair at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, where she learned about the genesis for the Oscar-winning film:
Earthkeeper-on-the-street reporter, Annabelle Gurwitch, caught up with some of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival crew at the Park City recycling center. Annabelle caught the crew in the act of recycling the beer bottles from the Festival’s opening gala, which was held the previous evening. Check it out – the recycling was a “smashing” success (sorry … we just couldn’t resist):
What’s the one thing you do to minimize your environmental footprint? Earthkeeper-on-the-street reporter, Annabelle Gurwitch asked folks attending the 2009 Sundance Film Festival that question and she got some great responses. Tim Daly takes the prize for the best Earthkeeping tip.
According to the Film Festival guide, Crude asks the question, “Who is responsible for the unconscionable dumping of 18 billion gallons of toxic oil waste in the Ecuadorian Amazon, poisoning the most bio-diverse place on the planet?” In answering the question, the film chronicles the destruction this act caused to the lives of 30,000 indigenous people in the region.
Perhaps best known for his film Brother’s Keeper, Berlinger, by his own admission, is not an “eco-documentarian.” Previously he directed the rock and roll documentary, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster. In discovering this, Annabelle offered Joe what we thought was a great idea for a future film. We call it Heavy Metal Meets Earthkeepers. Imagine if you will, a film that follows a heavy metal rock band as they travel around the country in their bus powered by used vegetable oil. If Hot Buttered Rum can do it in their Well Oiled Machine, why can’t Metallica?
What a long, great week it’s been. The 2009 Sundance Film Festival has hit the midway point and as of 24 hours ago, and we have a new president here in the United States. With all of the activity and excitement of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival already swirling around in my psyche, yesterday’s inauguration managed to double the amps of amazement. At Sundance we’ve been asking people to tell us about how they’re making changes in their lives that serve to lessen their environmental impact. There exists a common thread among the folks we’ve been speaking with, who by the way, are graciously giving us their time to engage in these meaningful conversations.
That common theme is a sense of responsibility. Nearly every person that we’ve talked to about Earthkeeping has an understanding of the need to be accountable for their actions when it comes to the environment. They have a sense of responsibility that results from what appears to be an intrinsic awareness of how the choices they make in their daily lives impact their environment – on both a local and global scale. That’s been the most refreshing aspect of this Sundance experience. And when I consider that our new President here in the United States has issued a call for every citizen to accept responsibility for his or her actions, it’s good to know that we’re not starting from scratch.
In his inauguration address yesterday, U.S. President Barack Obama said, “…each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.” This was a description of the current state of affairs as they relate to the environment and climate change. Later on during his speech while we was eloquently painting the image, with broad strokes, that depicts his vision for hope, he went on to say, “We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.” Towards the end of his speech, Obama explained that “while our challenges may be new and the instruments with which we meet them may be new…What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.”
To many, this is the starting line of a journey for people with a renewed and inspired sense of responsibility. And the skeptics could say, things might change but it won’t be long before we revert back to our normal behaviors of high impact and consumption. But to me, after having the opportunity to engage citizens from around the globe in a dialogue about Earthkeeping I’ve come to the realization that this isn’t the starting line. We’ve already begun to take accountability. It’s not ground zero, and that element is where the roots of hope for a reversal of climate change have taken hold.
There is no better example of this than the film that will close the Sundance Film Festival this Friday night. It’s called Earth Days and it was directed by Robert Stone. Geoffrey Gilmore, the director of the Festival, describes Earth Days in the 2009 Film Guide this way, Director Robert Stone concocts an inspiring and hopeful work in Earth Days, a feature documentary that recounts the history of the modern environmental movement from its beginnings nearly four decades ago. Environmental activism really began with the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, and precipitated an unexpected and galvanizing effect on the national psyche.
Told through the eyes of nine very divergent witnesses. . .Earth Days is a visually stunning, globe-spanning chronicle of watershed events and consciousness-changing realizations that prompted a new awareness: the post–World War II American dream of a future world created by scientific progress, new technology, and economic expansion was rapidly changing into a nightmare.
To the twenty million Americans who demanded change and political action to protect the environment on that first Earth Day, the urgency and scale of the current crisis would have seemed extreme and alarmist. Earth Days is a truly cogent and powerful depiction of the awakening of the world to environmental reality by a dedicated and skilled filmmaker; ignoring its message could imperil us all!
Earth Days is one of those films that reinforce that common thread that we’re seeing among Festival goers this week – the shared sense of responsibility for the environment and the impact we have on it. It reinforces the notion that in this time of hope we can be proud of the fact that we have a staunch historical perspective and broad range of experiences from which we can draw as we continue our journey towards the goal to becoming an environmentally sustainable global community. Yes, it’s been a long, great week in Sundance, and I’m glad they saved what could be the best film, for last.
It’s the dawn of day three at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. We’ve had an action packed two days so far. Our Earthkeeper woman-on-the-street reporter, Annabelle Gurwitch, has been talking non-stop with festival goers, film makers and celebrities and they’ve revealed some fascinating ideas and insights on everything from climate change to recycling. They’ve even shared their thoughts with us a few of the films that address topic and issues related to the environment, including “No Impact Man” (co directors Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein are pictured above) and “The Cove”. That’s not all. The people we’ve been speaking with have commented on an expansive range of ideas and practices that address how they reduce their environmental impact.
As a first-time Sundance attendee, I’ve found the crowds to be only slightly overwhelming. But one has to consider that, while I may be rookie Sundance Film Festivalgoer, I am a veteran visitor to Park City. Thus I’m not used to seeing the volume of foot and automobile traffic that comes with the Festival. I’m not a star gazer but I am an observer. So after finally coming to terms with the fact that on this particular trip to one of my favorite ski destination in the world, the only boots I’ll be wearing on the snow are my Earthkeepers, I made some Earthkeeper observations while strolling the snow-plowed pavement of Park City’s Main Street…
1) The streets, sidewalks and venues at the Sundance Festival are very clean. Not only are people are using the recycling bins and garbage receptacles (of which there are many and they’re all visibly well placed), the bins and cans are emptied with incredible frequency. Therefore we’re not seeing overflowing bins surrounded by litter on the grounds.
2) We’re on the precipice of seeing more people using reusable water bottles than disposable ones. Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of disposable water bottles here but the Festival has taken some pretty radical steps to minimize the circulation of the throw away-plastic water bottles. For example, you can’t buy water at the festival venues but the very kind volunteers will give you directions to the nearest water fountain. And the water refilling stations, located throughout the Festival, have been very well received by folks who are drinking from their reusable water bottles.
3) The use of Styrofoam food containers appears to be minimal here in Park City and the Park City Recycling Center recycles it with enthusiasm. (Yes, I did give up Festival time to visit the Park City Recycling Center. How’s that for Earthkeeping?) I was disheartened on my first morning in town when we found this great breakfast joint with Heuvos Rancheros to die for and just as I was telling my co-worker how wonderful it was that we found a great place to eat breakfast during our stay, the waitress emerged from the kitchen with a take out order packaged in none other than a Styrofoam container. Oh well, I shouldn’t eat eggs every day anyway.
Soon, we’ll be posting the video we’ve been shooting here at the festival. I’m heading over to Main Street right now to see what other Earthkeeping actions I can observe…and yes, maybe I’ll do a little stargazing….the celebrities we’ve met so far have been very helpful. At left, Christie Brinkley shares organic gardening tips with Annabelle.
Yours in Earthkeeping,