The ninth annual Environmental Film Festival begins at the M.V. Film Center on Thursday, May 25, and continues through Sunday, May 28. Offered in collaboration with the Vineyard Conservation Society, the four-day festival this year is titled “Nature as Inspiration.” The eight documentaries of the festival will feature issues related to the natural world.
The festival opens on Thursday at 6:30 pm with a reception at the center, with a tribute to Brendan O’Neill, who is retiring as executive director of the Vineyard Conservation Society.
Following the reception is the documentary “Patrick and the Whale.” This film offers a captivating look at the relationship between a marine photographer and the sperm whale he has studied, named Dolores. The diver, Patrick Dykstra, gave up a career in law to become an awardwinning cinematographer committed to exploring whale life. In the film, Dykstra follows sperm whales off the coast of Dominica, the Caribbean island consisting of Martinique and Guadeloupe. One of his more fascinating conclusions is that sperm whales are capable of making the loudest sounds in the animal kingdom.
Two films will screen on Friday: “Youth v Gov” and “Nuclear Now.” “Youth v Gov” describes the efforts of the 21 students who represent the work of the many youths behind Juliana v. The United States of America, the constitutional lawsuit they hope ultimately to bring to the Supreme Court.
“Nuclear Now” is an Oliver Stone film that looks at the history of nuclear energy and the scare campaign against its use. A Q and A will follow this film with Jacopo Buongiorno, TEPCO Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Saturday afternoon brings “The Grab.” Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, this film offers a gripping look at the way the world’s water supplies are threatened. Cowperthwaite examines how Saudi investors are using the water in La Paz, Ariz., to grow hay they send home to feed their cattle.
Cowperthwaite interviews Nathan Halverson, a journalist working with the Center for Investigative Reporting, who has uncovered how in 2014 China bought Smithfield Foods, the American company that is the largest pork producer in the world. Halverson has determined that it is just one of the grabs happening by foreign nations like China. Another shocker is that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is related to the fact that Ukraine supplies 29 percent of the global wheat trade. Paced like an international film, it screens like a thriller in one sense, and in another like a science fiction movie. It also reveals the money, influence and rationale that uncover the secret efforts to dominate the world’s resources.
“The Scale of Hope” screens Saturday, and focuses on the achievements of Molly Kawahata, former climate advisor to the Obama White House. The film follows Kawahata as she prepares for a climb in the 600-mile Alaska Range, and it demonstrates her commitment to alleviating global climate change. The film will be followed by the reading of poems by M.V. Regional High School students on the theme of “Hope and Climate Action.” These poems are the winners of the Vineyard Conservation Society contest.
The final three films, playing on Sunday, are the best of the festival. “Geographies of Solitude” is on Sable Island, south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, where environmentalist Zoe Lucas has spent the past 40 years collecting and cleaning marine litter that washes up on the shores of the island.
This film collaborates with the environment to create powerful images made with an activist approach.
On Sunday afternoon comes the compelling “A Crack in the Mountain,” a film set in Vietnam. It describes Hang Son Doong, the largest cave in the world. The challenge here is to balance the spectacular beauty of the cave with its exploitation as an attraction to tourists.
Finally, “Solutions” is the last film, and screens on Sunday night. It describes the scientists who spend 10 days at the Santa Fe Institute in the desert of New Mexico. Their plan is to establish the future of humanity through science.
Collaborating with the M.V. Film Society, the nonprofit Vineyard Conservation Society is screening “Solutions,” and committed to preservation of the character, environment, and life on Martha’s Vineyard by advocacy, education, and protection of the Island’s land and waters.
Information and all-access tickets to the Environmental Film Festival are available through mvfilmsociety.com.