Bad news about the environment is everywhere, so when Helen Thornton was putting together the program for the Olympia Film Society's second Environmental Film Festival, the film programmer decided to think positive.
“I tried to pick titles that have solutions,” Thornton said. “That way, you don’t leave the theater feeling like: ‘That was depressing. There is nothing we can do.’ ”
Take the festival’s opening film, “Carbon Nation,” which the filmmakers bill as “a climate-change solutions movie (that doesn’t even care if you believe in climate change).”
“We made this film for the folks who see solutions to climate change as a national security issue; we have a chapter solely on the green hawks in the Department of Defense,” the filmmakers write. “We made this film for people who simply see huge profits to be made in energy efficiency. We made it for the great many Americans who don’t want to be told they’ve done something wrong, but do appreciate clean air and clean water.”
Another example: “End of the Line,” showing Saturday. It’s about the dangers of overfishing, and it includes information about which kinds of fish are OK to purchase and which kinds you might want to avoid.
The festival doesn’t just include films about environmental problems, either: “Earthwork” and “Grandma’s Bottle Village,” to be shown as a double bill, are documentaries about environmental and recycled art projects.
There are also two narrative films: “Silent Running,” the classic sci-fi flick about a world where the only remaining grass and trees are in floating greenhouses high above the earth; and “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” the 2009 animated film with the voice of George Clooney.
“We wanted to have something for kids,” Thornton said. “This is a movie that’s for kids and adults. It’s a great story, beautifully made.”
But is it an environmental film?
“It’s not the main message, but it does have this subtle message about the impact of mega-farms,” she said.
6 p.m. Opening-night celebration with a chance to mingle and learn about local environmental groups
7 p.m. “Carbon Nation” (with a live panel discussion and a Skype Q&A with Dan Nolan, who appears in the film), a documentary about environmental solutions being implemented across the country
9 p.m. “Silent Running,” the 1971 environmental science-fiction classic that imagined life on Earth in 2008 as a place with many technological marvels but without grass and trees
Noon. Closing reception for “Particles on the Wall: The Hanford Traveling Exhibit,” which explores nuclear power in Washington through poems, art and memorabilia
6:30 p.m. “Into Eternity,” a European documentary about the endurance of nuclear waste and how to dispose of the waste
9 p.m. “End of the Line,” a British documentary about the dangers of overfishing and the possible end of fish as a food source by 2050
2:30 p.m. “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” the stop-motion animated film with the voice of George Clooney
5 p.m. “Earthwork,” about environmental artist Stan Herd, and “Grandma’s Bottle Village,” about a California artist who covered a third of an acre of land with shrines, walkways, sculptures and buildings all made from recycled and salvaged items
7:30 p.m. “SoLa: Louisiana Water Stories,” a documentary that looks at people dedicated to protecting the water in a state recently struck by two environmental tragedies, Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill
Environmental Film Festival
What: The Olympia Film Society presents its second annual festival devoted to environmental films.
When: Today through Sunday
Where: Capitol Theater, 206 Fifth Ave. S.E., Olympia
Tickets (per screening): $8.50 general admission, $5.50 for film society members, $4 for ages 12 and younger. For matinees, prices are $5.50 for adults, $4.50 for members, $4 for children.