The environmental sciences program at Centre is sponsoring the “Energy and the Environment Film Festival,” which will run April 1-5 in the Vahlkamp Theatre. The five films in the festival all focus on energy production and use, particularly modern fuel extraction and American dependence on fossil fuel.
Students who come to one or more of the films may also win prizes.
“We figured it would be fun to drive some more interest in the festival with a few incentives,” says Cindy Isenhour, a post-doctoral fellow in environmental studies sponsored by the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS). “Students who attend one film will be entered to win one of five Sigg water bottles. Students who sign in at two films will be entered to win one of three ‘Respect Your Mother’ T-shirts. Finally, students who attend three or more films will be entered to win a free ‘mountain witness’ tour to Eastern Kentucky, where we’ll visit a mountain top removal site, visit with families affected by MTR and attend a showing of a recently released film at Appalshop.”
The first film, 2008 documentary “Burning the Future: Coal in America,” will be shown at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 1. Filmed in West Virginia, the documentary looks at the tense relationship between the coal industry and local residents, whose tap water has been made toxic by extraction processes, among other negative effects. Assistant Professor of English Stacey Peebles will speak before the film about documentary filmmaking.
“Fuel,” a 2008 documentary that took eleven years to film, will be shown at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, April 2. Filmmaker and eco-evangelist Josh Tickell tackles American dependence on foreign oil in the film, and through a variety of interviews with politicians, teachers and activists, offers an array of potential alternatives to the current crisis.
At 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 3, “The Last Mountain” will be shown. The 2011 documentary depicts a battle big coal companies and Appalachian residents fight over the mountains being destroyed for mining purposes, as well as the health issues brought on in the process.
“GasLand,” a 2010 documentary, will be shown at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 4. The film focuses on “fracking,” or hydraulic fracturing, a controversial drilling process to reach more natural gas that some consider unsafe. Director Josh Fox began the project when a company proposed that he lease his own land for fracking.
The final film 2012 documentary, “Pipedreams,” will be shown at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 5. The documentary centers around the Keystone XL Pipeline and the debate over the effect it will have on drinking water and the environment, from Canada to Texas.
“Students and faculty who attend the ‘energy and the environment’ film festival will learn more about the social, environmental and political consequences of contemporary energy production,” Isenhour says.
The organizers of the film festival hope audiences will come to see the documentaries that will teach them the most.
“They’re all a bit different, but I would suggest that if you can only see one or two, choose those films that feature the extraction method you know the least about,” Isenhour says. “If you’re from Kentucky and already know quite a bit about coal and mountain top removal, then see ‘GasLand,’ about hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, or ‘Pipedreams,’ about the tar sands pipeline that was routed over our largest fresh water aquifer. On the other hand, if you’re from Kentucky and know very little about the controversy surrounding mountain top removal, come learn why some coal communities are pro-coal but anti-mountain top removal.”
For Isenhour, the most important message the films in the festival share is that the environment and people across the world need to change their mindsets about fuel and energy.
“We have ample and building evidence to suggest that our current energy production technologies are not only unsustainable in the long term but are also damaging human and environmental health in the short term,” Isenhour says. “We need to move beyond non-renewable resources soon and these films are all intended to help the audience think through some of the real costs associated with the combustion of fossil fuels. These films are increasingly relevant for all of us.”