Environmental Film Reviews

Something worth fighting for

Two films tell contrasting stories about the struggle against nuclear power

By Linda Pentz Gunter

Note: Beyond Nuclear, Goethe-Institut, DC and Heinrich Böll Stiftung, DC are making The Beekeeper and 33 Days of Utopia available free to screen at home until April 6. On Tuesday, March 30, at 1pm Eastern US time, please join us, the filmmakers and protagonists for a live discussion about the films and the culture of resistance to nuclear power. Register here.

“And at that point,” says Katie Hayward, halfway through Will McGregor’s short film, The Beekeeper, “I went cold”.

Hayward, the beekeeper of the film’s title, had just seen a news report showing the expanded footprint of the proposed two-reactor Wylfa B nuclear power project on the island of Anglesey in North Wales. Hayward’s home, which her family had tenanted since 1532, was right in the plan’s crosshairs. It would be bulldozed, and the farmland paved over.

Hayward’s fight to save her bees, her home and her rescue animals escalated, while her physical and mental health plummeted. As the farms around her sold out to Horizon — the nuclear subsidiary of site owner, Hitachi — Hayward found herself almost alone, a one-woman David against a corporate Goliath.

Read more at Beyond Nuclear


The Falconer

Photo by Ross Feldner

One of very few Black Master Falconers in the U.S., Rodney Stotts never planned to be an environmentalist. Growing up in marginalized Southeast Washington, D.C., he seemed destined for a life of drugs and street violence but left that behind as he developed a passion for the art and sport of falconry.

This intimate portrait film follows Rodney as he strives to provide his community’s underserved youth and endangered raptors with a safe haven for mutual healing and growth. Acting as his own narrator, Stotts discusses his work as a licensed Master Falconer, environmental educator, and with the Earth Conservation Corps, responsible for bringing the bald eagle back to the Anacostia. The film shows Stotts as he and his youthful helpers from the Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy, run by the D.C. National Guard, begin the demanding work of refurbishing a hundred-year-old dairy barn to create a Raptor Center. Without money, he builds aviaries with donated wood. Without staff, he calls on family, friends, and volunteers for help. His goals are to protect raptors, heal and release them, take care of the birds that are non-releasable, teach young people about caring for the birds and their natural environment, and for a few, how to become falconers.

“All this is healing. All this is medicine. All this changes who you are,” – says Stotts.

The Falconer is a story of second chances: for injured birds of prey, for an abandoned plot of land, for young people who bear the brunt of social and environmental injustice, and for Rodney Stotts himself. Please visit http://www.thefalconerfilm.com for more information.

Because some footage might be upsetting for younger viewers, we recommend The Falconer for high school age and above.


As the U.S. Rejoins the Paris Climate Agreement, Revisit FRONTLINE’s Recent Climate Reporting

“The Paris Agreement is an unprecedented framework for global action. We know because we helped design it and make it a reality,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who previously served in various roles in the Obama administration, said in a statement. “Its purpose is both simple and expansive: to help us all avoid catastrophic planetary warming and to build resilience around the world to the impacts from climate change we already see.”

The Trump administration had officially left the Paris agreement in November 2020, following a process set in motion by President Donald Trump in June 2017 when he vowed to withdraw from the agreement, calling it “draconian” and arguing it was not made on good terms for American taxpayers. Under the non-binding agreement reached in 2015 by world leaders and activated in 2016, the U.S. would have voluntarily reduced its carbon emissions on a schedule American officials set.

For more on the threat and impacts of climate change, revisit FRONTLINE’s reporting in the five stories below — an introduction to our broad coverage of the topic.

1. The Last Generation (2018), an award-winning, interactive look at children living in an island nation threatened by rising seas

2. Fire in Paradise (2019), a film on California’s deadliest-ever wildfire that examines the role of climate change

3. War on the EPA (2017), a documentary examining how the anti-regulatory and anti-climate change science movements in America gained power

4. Greenland Melting (2018), a 360-degree documentary set amid Greenland’s melting glaciers

5. Climate Change in the Classroom (2017-18), a series of stories on the battle over what kids learn about climate change

Read more at Frontline


New ‘Meltdown’ film: A different kind of Greenland ice documentary

A famed photographer’s vision and a YCC climate expert’s insights make this vivid 67-minute video stand out from the crowd.

“Meltdown” – a new documentary featuring renowned art photographer Lynn Davis and climate communications expert Anthony Leiserowitz, made its online debut February 12. Shot on location in Greenland and directed and produced by Academy Award nominees Fred Golding and Mike Tollin, the 67-minute video differs significantly from many other videos on Greenland, its glaciers, and ice sheet.

“It’s not a scientific documentary. It’s not an advocacy film. It’s not a Hollywood disaster movie,” Leiserowitz says.

He describes it instead as “an intimate exploration of art and science, beauty and tragedy, the personal and the global, set amidst the massive and spectacularly beautiful icebergs breaking off of Greenland at an accelerating rate.”

The film is available for rent and/or purchase on a number of streaming services, including AmazonApple iTunesVuduXfinity, and other cable networks nationwide (not on Netflix). Rental and purchase prices vary somewhat among those services. The official trailer, embedded below, is available on YouTube.


Nevergreen

Nevergreen is a forty-five minute film about ground-breaking environmentalist, biologist and writer Rachel Carson, the début project of performance collective the wonderful (@wethewonderful). The film was shot on location in Hampstead Heath in London just before the latest lockdown. It tries to capture Carson’s spirit, incorporating sounds from nature, dance, music, poetry and animation to create her rich and inspiring world. The film is 45 minutes long and will be online with the rest of the festival until the 22nd February.

“I will tell you what I saw, tell you everything.”
—Rachel Carson: scientist, writer, ecologist.

In her short life, Carson did more than almost anyone to create environmentalism as we now know it. As we face a fifth mass extinction, Carson’s voice rings out with even greater clarity. the wonderful make their début with Nevergreen, a digital iteration of their ongoing Carson project. Shot during the UK Lockdown in December 2020, it takes place between Hampstead Heath, an artist’s studio, and Carson’s bedroom. Nevergreen explores Carson’s relationship with nature, driven by wonder and curiosity, and asks us: in what kind of world would we like to live?

Katurah Morrish as Rachel Carson • Written by Gus Mitchell • Directed by Eloïse Poulton
Cinematography by Callum Hale-Thomson & Josh McClure

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