Environmental Film Reviews

September Screening — Reflection: A Walk with Water

Fri., Sept. 16; 7 p.m. ET, 4 p.m. PT | R.S.V.P. in advance

Join us Fri., Sept. 16 for a conversation about our September screening of Reflection: A Walk with Water for Virtual Environmental Film Series. The conditions that make life possible are rapidly changing. Reckoning with this reality on the cusp of a record-setting dry season, filmmaker Emmett Brennan embarks on a powerful journey to find stories of hope and healing. Brennan sets out to walk 200 miles next to the iconic Los Angeles aqueduct. Along the way he encounters cultural leaders, ecological iconoclasts, and indigenous wisdom keepers who are re-envisioning our relationship to water. The water cycle is being broken, they say, and the consequence is an increasingly erratic and uninhabitable planet. Through a series of intimate vignettes, Reflection: a walk with water offers essential guidance for reviving this cycle. The award-winning film highlights transformational stories from LA and other parts of California and makes widespread ecological healing seem well within reach. Providing deep insight into the inseparability of water and life, Reflection helps equip our minds and hearts for the important work ahead.

How to Attend:

This virtual event is free, but advance registration is required. R.S.V.P. here to join us. The link and password to the film will be distributed on Wed., Sept. 14, for viewing ahead of the film discussion on Fri., Sept. 16.

About the Series

Phipps’ Environmental Film Series is an exciting monthly event inviting community members to come together to view environmental films and documentaries. Each viewing will be followed by a dynamic discussion with film producers, scientists and environmental advocates, enabling attendees to share thoughts, consider various viewpoints and hear the experts’ perspectives. The series aims to raise awareness of our relationship with the natural environment, and to use film as a platform for conversation, education and positive change. Click here to register


In Indonesian Mining Region, the EV Boom Takes a Heavy Toll

The green electric vehicle revolution has a decidedly dirty side, and the Winner of the 2022 Yale Environment 360 Film Contest — “From Dreams to Dust” — vividly tells the story of the high cost of nickel mining through the life of an Indonesian mine worker.

lithium-ion batteries are a key component of electric vehicles, and essential to EV battery production is nickel. But mining nickel is often a heavily polluting enterprise, and nowhere is that more evident than in Indonesia, which produces nearly a third of the world’s nickel.

In “From Dreams to Dust,” Indonesian filmmakers Stephanie Tangkilisan and Muhammad Fadli visit the coastal community of Tapunggaeya, which has been ravaged by more than a decade of mining. Once a picturesque fishing village on the island of Sulawesi, the hills in and around Tapunggaeya have been torn apart by vast open-pit mines that cause life-threatening landslides, pollute drinking supplies, and contaminate coastal waters. Read more


‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ comes to life and to the screen

This image released by Columbia Pictures shows Daisy Edgar-Jones, left, and Taylor John Smith in a scene from “Where the Crawdads Sing.” (Michele K. Short/Sony Pictures via AP)

The coastal marshlands of North Carolina take on a mythic quality in Delia Owens’ “Where the Crawdads Sing.” They are where the protagonist, Kya, grows up alone after her family leaves. They are also both the source of her artistic inspiration and her social isolation from the people in the nearby town of Barkley Cove.

“Marsh is not a swamp,” Owens’ book begins. “Marsh is a space of light, where grass grows in water, and water flows into the sky. Slow-moving creeks wander, carrying the orb of the sun with them to the sea, and long-legged birds lift with unexpected grace-as though not built to fly-against the roar of a thousand snow geese.”

It is a character as important as any in the book, and the filmmakers behind the big screen adaptation, which opens in theaters nationwide Friday, were not going to take any chances recreating that environment on a soundstage. They too would take to the marsh — oppressive heat, swarming bugs, looming alligators, unpredictable weather, flash floods, lightning storms and all — to bring the story to life. New Orleans plays coastal North Carolina in the film.

Reese Witherspoon and producer Elizabeth Gabler (“Life of Pi,” “Hidden Figures”) were both early champions of “Where the Crawdads Sing,” which became an unlikely publishing phenomenon, with over 12 million copies sold and a record-breaking 191 weeks on the bestseller list. They set out to make a feature film and enlisted Oscar-nominated “Beasts of the Southern Wild” screenwriter Lucy Alibar to take a stab at adapting the lyrical novel, which is at turns a romance, a coming-of-age tale, a courtroom drama, a mystery and a celebration of the natural world. Read more