Environmental video festival begins Thursday

The Olympia Film Society - which launched its own documentary film festival last fall - has another new festival starting Thursday.

This one focuses just on environmental documentaries.

And it’s called not a film festival but a video festival simply because most documentaries are shot on video these days, said festival programmer Helen Thornton.

The society was inspired to start the festival in honor of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day – and because there are so many documentaries that focus on the environment.

‘’I’d noticed that there were so many great brand-new films about the environment and sustainable living,” Thornton said. “We thought we’d start an annual environmental festival. So every April, we’re going to do a documentary festival focused on those.”

Topics of the films range from soil and water to sustainable lifestyles, and April 17 there’ll be a free panel discussion, too.

“Broken Limbs,” about the struggles of small apple orchards in Wenatchee, is being screened April 16.

The film has been screened at a number of festivals and aired on the Documentary Channel. Though it’s a few years old, it continues to attract attention from film festivals and community groups, said filmmaker Jamie Howell, who’ll attend the screening to answer questions.

“ ‘Broken Limbs’ will break your heart with its images of the sad plight of the American independent farmer,” filmmaker Sam Keen has said of the film. “But then, it will begin to heal your heart with its stories of new small-scale farmers who are living well, low to the ground with a vision of a sustainable agricultural future.”

The 2004 film, which won two Northwest Emmy Awards, is about the failure of many small orchards in Wenatchee, known as the Apple Capital of the World.

When the film was made, sustainability was a new idea, said Howell of Wenatchee, who made the film with Guy Evans.

“The goal was to get the message out and get people thinking about these topics in a way they hadn’t before,” he said.

“Small farmers still have a heck of a time,” he added. “But we have definitely seen a national awareness – and a local awareness, even in a place like Wenatchee – around local food networks.”

Thornton chose films based on reviews she’d read. She’s excited to have Howell and Florian Graner, who made the underwater documentary “Beneath the Salish Sea,” visiting the festival.

She also is excited about “Dirt,” which will be shown April 16 as a benefit for Garden-Raised Bounty (GRuB).

“It’s a really great film,” she said. “It’s gotten great buzz.”



6:30 p.m. “Trashed,” about the garbage business

9 p.m. “Owning the Weather,” about the 50 active U.S. weather-modification programs

April 16

6:30 p.m. “Dirt” (a benefit for Garden-Raised Bounty), about the damage being done to this basic natural resource

9 p.m. “Broken Limbs” (with a filmmaker Q&A), about the struggles of apple farmers in Wenatchee and sustainable alternatives to traditional farming

April 17

2:30 p.m. “Be the Change,” about ordinary people trying to live sustainably

3:30 p.m. Free panel discussion on sustainable living

6:30 p.m. “Beneath the Salish Sea: An Underwater Odyssey Through Puget Sound” (with a filmmaker Q&A), a high-definition video about the denizens of our inland waters

9 p.m. “A Sense of Wonder,” a documentary-style film in which actress Kaiulani Lee plays environmental crusader Rachel Carson, author of “Silent Spring”