Film festival to highlight environment issues Sunday

by Town Reminder

By Kristin Will

SOUTH HADLEY – Project Native will take the phrase “Lights, camera, action” to a different level this weekend with its free environmental film festival held Sunday at Tower Theaters.
Karen Lyness LeBlanc of the non-profit Project Native hopes residents will be called to action through the education offered from the five films shown.
“It’s just a fun way to sort of learn more about really important environmental issues,” said LeBlanc.
The first film to be shown is “DamNation,” at 10 a.m. It will explore what happens with rivers when dams are taken down, and how such dams have altered the landscape.
“Plastic Paradise” will be shown at 11:30 a.m. This film documents problems with plastic and the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” what is known as “ground zero” for plastic trash collection from three continents.
“The Starfish Thrower” will be shown at 1 p.m., which chronicles three different individuals who are helping to feed those in need.
At 2:50 p.m., “Resistance” will be shown. This film details antibiotic resistance and super bugs.
And at 4:30 p.m., “Groundswell Rising,” a film that documents a movement to slow down and stop fracking, will be shown.
The films provide “a digestible way” for residents to learn about a wide range of issues. Project Native specifically chose topics that, while related to the environment, span different areas.
“People have different interests,” said LeBlanc. “We want to reach a large audience.”
The South Hadley film festival is the first in a series of three throughout Western Massachusetts. Two other showings of environmental-related films will be shown in Great Barrington on April 11 and 12.
LeBlanc hopes filmgoers are inspired to make even the smallest changes following the festival.
For instance, at an earlier film festival in Great Barrington, Project Native showed a film “Bag It,” about plastic bags. A committee formed, and later, the town banned single-use plastic bags in March of 2014.
“If people see a film, like Resistance,” she said, perhaps they will make an effort to buy meat from animals raised without antibiotics.
Supporting the festival is the Connecticut River Watershed Council [CRWC]. The films “Plastic Paradise” and “DamNation” highlight issues the council is dealing with along the river.
“Healthy rivers are so important because they contribute so much, both to our economies and the beauty and enjoyment of our communities,” said CRWC Executive Director, Andrew Fisk.
In an effort to localize the film festival, Project Native is connecting with the South Hadley Neighbors Helping Neighbors. Staff from the food pantry will set up an informational table in the Tower Theaters lobby during the showing of “The Starfish Throwers.”
All films are free of charge. Tickets to each film will be released 20 minutes prior to show time.
“It’s sort of helping people to see they may not be somebody who is going to go and do native landscaping, but they might decide to take on fracking or plastics,” said LeBlanc. “Hopefully somebody will find something in there they want to take on as a cause.”
The festival is underwritten by the CT River Watershed Association, Berkshire Environmental Action Team, and Neighbors Helping Neighbors. A major support of the festival is the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.