For the First Time Ever, DC Environmental Film Festival Comes to Cambridge

environmental film festival

For the last 25 years, the Environmental Film Festival has been held in Washington D.C.—but this September, for the first time in its history, it’s going on tour.

On September 28 and 29, the two-day event comes to the Kendall Square Cinema as part of Boston’s annual HUBweek, a “festival for the future” celebrating art, science and technology and innovation.

“Environmental documentaries aren’t something that you come across so often, and there aren’t environmental film festivals in every town,” says Marga Varea, festival outreach coordinator. The idea was to take the show on the road, so to speak, testing it out in another city. And what better city than Cambridge, a science, education and tech hub where green issues are at the forefront of so many policies and programs?

Women and Water, from Spanish filmmaker and women’s rights advocate Nocem Collado, kicks off the festival on Wednesday, September 28. The film looks at the role of fresh water in India through the stories of four women and their efforts to access this vital resource. “It involves, kind of, the cycle of life—birth, growing up, and death—through these four short stories that make up the documentary,” Varea explains. Coincidentally, the second film that will screen on Wednesday is also a foreign film. Ice and Sky, from Oscar-winning director Luc Jacquet (March of the Penguins) tells the story of French oceanographer Claude Lorius, who discovered climate change in the Antarctic all the way back in the 1950s. Amazingly, it’s largely comprised of footage from the ’50s—of which there is a surprising amount in surprisingly high quality—intertwining those archival images with footage from his recent return to the Antarctic.

On Thursday, Death by Design debuts, taking viewers on a journey from China to Silicon Valley to explore how, exactly, tablets, smartphones and other devices get made. “And what is, really, the human price and the environmental price of making these devices?” Varea asks. (Quite timely, given the recent announcement of the iPhone 7.) The Age of Consequences closes out the festival on Thursday. From director Jared P. Scott—whose film Requiem for the American Dream is currently on Netflix—it investigates the ways in which climate change is a player in conflict, migration and national security. “Drought, extreme weather, food shortages—those accelerate instability and might, in the end, create conflict where there might not have been one,” Varea.

All screenings will be followed by a discussion with the filmmakers and experts in these fields. That makes this a unique opportunity to see important films that are premiering in Boston and aren’t yet available anywhere else, but, more importantly, it’s a chance to stay current on the events that are shaping our world today.

“You open a newspaper any day now, and you’re going to be reading about conflict in the Middle East, you’re going to be reading about new devices coming out on the market, you’re going to be reading about President Obama talking about climate change,” Varea says. “All of those issues are now at the forefront of the news—and of our lives, really.”

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