[Note: This review covers "Everything's Cool" and "A Land Out of Time"]
Find films at festival that examine consequences of corporate, consumer behaviors
Global climate change is just the tip of the melting iceberg. It would take a whole film festival to cover the consequences of our corporate and consumer behaviors. Nevada City has one - the Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival (taking place on Jan. 11, 12 and 13).
A wealth of films helps to get the issues coursing inside us, raising awareness and inspiring action across a wide range of illustrative stories and styles. Those who are interested can glean film summaries through the schedule tab at www.wseff.org.
A film such as "Everything's Cool" gets more into the history of awareness about climate change issues and the arc toward action. The film refers, for instance, to a controversial book with the title of "The Death of Environmentalism." It talks about how little traction you can get in America talking about doomsday and major sacrifice. It talks about needing an "I have a Dream" speech, not an "I have a nightmare" speech.
Where is the traction? As ever, "It's the economy, stupid." Creating a green economy means more than environmentalism. In the film "A Land Out of Time," one guy says, "Five years ago you couldn't a got me in a room full of environmentalists." But as more people see first hand how much oil and gas companies impinge on people's lives and livelihoods, sustained action is much more likely. The film shows how people banded together to ban gas drilling in an area known as the Rocky Mountain Front in Montana.
"A Land Out of Time" focuses on a chief executive's order to fast track drilling tens of thousand of new wells on public lands in the Rockies. That's panorama after panorama of devastated public environments when each batch of them, at best, realizes only a few nation-days worth of gas. The film refers to tens of thousands of people who speak up against the federal administration's philosophy that public opinion about public lands doesn't count for much.
People whose lives are affected come to understand the false choice between running out of gas and drilling, drilling, drilling for more. A film such as "A Land Out of Time" showcases a critical political perspective. What it means to be a conservative, to be a liberal, to be an environmentalist, to be an activist all simmer together in a big stew. The taste and nutrition of that stew is up to us. Indeed, whether the stew is even edible is up to us.
----- Talking with the producer/director of 'A Land Out of Time' -----
Following are notes from a conversation between Chuck Jaffee and Mark Harvey, producer/director of "A Land Out of Time."
Chuck Jaffee: "A Land Out of Time" is a film about people banding together in response to fast-tracking tens of thousands of new gas wells to be drilled in the Rocky Mountains. What got you involved in producing this film?
Mark Harvey: I come from a funny background. My family is in the cattle business, but I grew up with friends who are environmentalists. People think of the two groups as antagonistic, but the best ranchers are good stewards of the land. I've been involved with what you might call environmental issues for a long time. I had done a few small films. Meanwhile, I didn't like how the public process was being subjugated.
CJ: So, you'd say you're more of a citizen who makes films, than a filmmaker who found a subject for a film.
CJ: Were the people you interviewed wary of what kind of film they were going to be in?
MH: We were honest about where we were going with the film. Some were a little wary. Some, you had to earn their trust and draw them out. Some were eloquent.
CJ: How critical is it to get public officials, like the one in the film, who stand up for what's right, even if the job includes pressures to act a certain way.
MH: Very critical. Someone with less courage would side with industry. There are a lot of people who go into the Bureau of Land Management or the Department of the Interior who have a passion for the land they manage. These kinds of officials do have a certain amount of autonomy.
CJ: What's your response to people who might say, "Get real. Most of these wilderness places affect no more than a few thousand people. The overall commercial and economic needs involved trump the negative effects that are part of making important tradeoffs."
MH: I disagree with that premise. Tourism, for instance, brings in billions across local economies ... forever, really. The gas dollars are big money, but only for a short period of time.