Sunday, April 21, 2013

Fire or Ice? A film review of To Earth with Love Film Festival: Chasing Ice, Happy People, Seeds of Hope, A Fierce Green Fire

Fire or Ice? Climate change may have us reeling, but these beautiful films help remind us what we’re fighting for BY DON WALLACE | APR 17, 2013 In a way it’s sad that “To Earth With Love,” the annual green film festival at the Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Museum of Art, is of such high quality this year–because the better the movie, it seems, the more dire the problem. Fortunately for our spirits, these are also extraordinarily beautiful films. No festival is complete without a Werner Herzog entry, of course. The kickoff-with-reception screener is Happy People: A Year in the Taiga, co-directed with Dmitry Vasyukov. It’s worthy of the wild man of cinema’s late-in-life canon, following as it does some of the most self-sufficient people you’ve ever seen. As opposed to those gun-nut, gold-bug, climate change-denying Doomsday Preppers on the National Geographic Channel, the indigenous people and Siberians we meet here are virtuosos of the axe, able to master their enormous frozen forest domain because they act as its servants. (April 19, 7:30 p.m., reception 6–7:30 p.m.) Chasing Ice stars James Balog, a craggy rock-climbing photographer. When National Geographic hired him to shoot the loss of the Arctic ice sheet, Balog was a climate agnostic; if anything he belonged to the school of Great Big Temperature Swings. But after his 2005 assignment, he began tinkering with time-lapse cameras that could sustain a year’s worth of subzero temperatures and hurricane-force winds. The first batch, which Balog installed on cliff faces and rocky overlooks above glaciers, indeed produced remarkable images of ice shrinkage. But their true shock value comes when he (and we) see how formerly snowy white surroundings are now miles-long fields of stones and grit. Balog has since dedicated his life to recording ice all over the globe, enlisting volunteers and installing cameras in as many icy places as possible. The film is glorious, visually; the story gripping, due both to the appalling now-and-then shots and the risks the teams take to get them. (April 28, 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m.; April 30, 1 and 7:30 p.m.) A Fierce Green Fire is a dazzling and taut history of the environmental movement–the whole damn enchilada from Teddy Roosevelt to this newspaper you’re holding. With big-name help (Robert Redford, Ashley Judd, Van Jones, Isabel Allende and Meryl Streep narrate) we relive in five acts the birth and growth of conservation, pollution awareness, alternative ecology, global connectivity and climate change. It’s like a relay race; at the end you’ll be reaching out to take the baton. (April 20, 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m.; April 23, 1 and 7:30 p.m.) Na Kupu Manaolana (Seeds of Hope) is that baton, a film about our very own Hawaii sustainable food movement, featuring our farmers, activists, educators and everyday folks talking about the history of our food security and what they’re doing to save it. Director Danny Miller will be at the 7:30 p.m. screening and panel discussion April 24; it also screens at 1 p.m., and on April 25 at 1 and 7:30 p.m. See Calendar for other films.