Environmental Film Reviews

‘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


The Smell Of Money: Documentary Produced by Kate Mara About 1980’s Anti-Pork Movement Premieres This Week

Vegan American actress Kate Mara and vegan filmmaker David Lowery will executive produce the new documentary from Shawn Bannon that will premiere this week, exposing the cruel hog industry.

The Smell Of Money follows the story of Elsie Herring, a woman born and raised in North Carolina who is taking on the multibillion-dollar evil pork industry. For decades, the surrounding farms have been spraying animal waste on their homes and land. Herring and her community are taking a stand and fighting the world’s largest pork company for clean air, water, and a community that doesn’t constantly reek of pig feces.

In the 1980s, Herring felt drops fall on her, but the revolting odor confirmed, it could not be rain. It was coming from the farmer next door who was deliberately spraying hog waste into the air. Since that day, Herring has been fighting the pork industry along with other residents who couldn’t stand the horrible pollution anymore. They have signed petitions, contacted elected officials, and testified before the United States Congress. But alas, nothing has changed. Read more


Youth v Gov

AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX APRIL 29TH!

YOUTH v GOV is the story of the Juliana v. The United States of America constitutional lawsuit and the 21 American youth, ages 14 to 25, who are taking on the world’s most powerful government. Since 2015, the legal non-profit Our Children’s Trust, has been representing these youth in their landmark case against the U.S. government for violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty, personal safety, and property through their willful actions in creating the climate crisis they will inherit.

As leaders in the youth climate movement, the twenty-one plaintiffs of Juliana v. The United States of America represent the diversity of American youth impacted by the climate crisis. They hail from 10 states: Florida, Alaska, Hawaii, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Louisiana, and New York. These film characters encompass cultural, economic and geographic diversity and many come from marginalized communities, serving as beacons of hope for those who do not have a platform to share their own stories. They are African-American, Indigenous, white, bi-racial, and LGBTQ, and their diversity speaks not only to the impacts of climate change, but to the inclusion required if we are to build a better and more just future together. These young people are activists, students, artists, musicians, and farmers, and their stories are universal. Click here for more information


Join us for Movies on the Mountain: a Spring Documentary Series

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is hosting Movies on the Mountain, a Spring Documentary Series, three Saturdays in April and May 2022. Join us in our beautiful outdoor Amphitheater to view these exciting and educational documentary films!

Hawk Mountain strives to be an inclusive outdoor destination for all nature lovers. The outdoor Amphitheater is ADA accessible and has accessible van parking. While on the Mountain, check out the Native Plant Garden and numerous other accessible spaces! For more information, visit hawkmountain.org/accessibility.

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is hosting Movies on the Mountain, a Spring Documentary Series, three Saturdays in April and May 2022. Join us in our beautiful outdoor Amphitheater to view these exciting and educational documentary films!

Hawk Mountain strives to be an inclusive outdoor destination for all nature lovers. The outdoor Amphitheater is ADA accessible and has accessible van parking. While on the Mountain, check out the Native Plant Garden and numerous other accessible spaces! For more information, visit hawkmountain.org/accessibility.

Nature’s Clean Up Crew

Sat, Apr 23, 4 – 5 PM

$7, $5 for Members

Scavengers live in our cities, recycling the mountains of waste that consumer society leaves behind. With the help of thoughtful and passionate scientists who have come to love and understand them, the film discusses what makes scavengers tick and how creatures have adapted to thrive in an urban environment. Click here to register!

Tracking Notes: The Secret World of Mountain Lions

Sat, May 7, 5 – 7 PM

FREE

Joshua Lisbon, Education Director at MPG Ranch and featured mountain lion researcher will lead a Q&A session after the film. The documentary offers a glimpse into the secret world of the North American mountain lion and follows the cycles of the natural world over 9 years, tracking the life of a remarkable female mountain lion and her offspring. Click here to register!

Vanishing of the Bees

Sat, May 14, 6:30 – 8 PM

$10, $5 for Members

A short talk will be presented followed by the documentary, which examines the alarming disappearance of honeybees and the relationship between mankind and earth. It takes a piercing, investigative look at the economic, political, and ecological implications of this species’ worldwide disappearance. Click here to register!

The new award-winning documentary River’s End is now available to purchase or rent on VOD. Get an inside look at California’s complex struggle over who gets fresh water, and discover how big money and special interests take what they want and ordinary residents are left high and dry. It’s a story that heralds an impending crisis—not just in California, but around the world. Read more


The Human Element


We humans are a force of nature. At the same time human activities alter the basic elements of life – earth, air, water, and fire – those elements change human life.

In an arresting new documentary from the producers of RACING EXTINCTION, THE COVE and CHASING ICE, environmental photographer James Balog captures the lives of everyday Americans on the front lines of climate change. With rare compassion and heart, THE HUMAN ELEMENT inspires us to reevaluate our relationship with the natural world. Read more


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