2018 was another great year of friendship and community building!
The Activists: War, Peace, and Politcs in the Streets
Stories of ordinary people who tried to end the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan–activists from many different walks of life, such as young man who joined the military during high school and then later became a leading opponent of U.S. foreign policy; a grandmother who asked to go to Iraq instead of her grandchildren; college students who dance to "funk the war"; and a woman who has been an activist since "ban the bomb" rallies in the 1950s.
Beyond Fordlandia (USA, 82 min) Directed by Marcos Colón. An account of Henry Ford’s Amazon experience 90 years after its failure. The story begins in 1927, when the Ford Motor Co. attempted to establish rubber plantations on the Tapajós River, a tributary of the Amazon. The indigenous peoples successfully transition from failed rubber to successful soybean cultivation for export.
Catching the Sun
An unemployed American worker, a Tea Party activist, and a Chinese solar entrepreneur race to lead the clean energy future. Over the course of a solar jobs training program, we follow the hope and heartbreak of unemployed American workers seeking jobs in the solar industry. We also see countries like China investing in innovative technologies and capitalizing on this trillion-dollar opportunity. Their successes and failures speak to one of the biggest questions of our time: Can the U.S. build a clean energy economy?
A Crude Injustice
Examines the aftermath of the Australian Montara oil spill disaster on August 21,2009, which caused Australia’s worst oil spill. For more than 70 days crude oil flowed into the Timor Sea. The chemicals Corexit 9500 and Corexit 9527 were used to mitigate the spill. This film follows the story of the more than 15,000 West Timor people most affected and their class action suit in 2016.
Ciclo de Cambio
Moved by the lack of opportunity for women and youth in her community in El Salvador, Reina Molino ventures to Guatemala to study bici-maquinas—bicycle pedal-power technology. Leaving everything she knows behind, Reina embarks on an inspiring journey of self-empowerment and problem solving. Through the mentorship of Carlos, founder of the social enterprise Bici-Tec and the friendship of Geovany, Reina seeks to find her life purpose and change the lives of people in her community. For more information visit http://bicitec.org/ This video was produced on location by an Actuality Abroad student crew and shot primarily with Canon cameras.
Down to Earth - Chapter One: Hope
A 12-day expedition is the first of five arctic ski expeditions the director hopes will inspire the next generation of environmental advocates. The film asks how do we connect to earth and instill hope in our communities and children.
Drain Rangers: Stormwater Engineering Solutions
Too much stormwater can be a big problem! This educational stop-motion animation series illustrates the causes of - and solutions to - dirty stormwater runoff. Join the Drain Ranger team, including Engineer Betsy, Juniper, Sophia and Ben as they discover ways we can all help keep our lakes, rivers and streams clean. This is Video 4 of the four-part series, and is titled: Dirty Stormwater Runoff: Advanced Engineering Solutions
Elephants Can't Jump
A tame elephant is forced to work very hard on illegal deforestation or in the tourism business doing circus tricks, painting with its trunk, and carrying tourists in heavy mounts. Wild elephants living in the jungle struggle constantly to survive as their habitat is destroyed by human development.
The End Game
Coral bleaching from rising sea temperatures has grown from isolated, regional events to a global threat. Duane began documenting increasing degradation of the ocean and he brought the issue to a larger audience with the hope that science and governments could save coral reefs, like a team of scientists working in Hawaii.
Evolution of Organic
The story of organic agriculture told by those who built the movement. A motley crew of back-to-the-landers, spiritual seekers, and farmers’ sons and daughters rejected chemical farming and set out to explore organic alternatives. A heartfelt journey of change–from a small band of rebels to a cultural transformation where organic is mainstream. It’s the most successful outgrowth of the environmental impulse of the last 50 years.
The Florida Project
Set over one summer in the shadows of Disney World. Precocious 6-year-old Moonee courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother. A striking picture of modern American poverty, but Mary Kaye Schilling (Newsweek) notes it pulses with “joy, life, and natural beauty.”
Food in the Woods of the Chaco (Comer del Monte)
In the Paraguayan Chaco region, the area with the fastest deforestation in the world, aboriginal communities see the source of their foodstuffs, their pharmacopoeia, and their mythological tales disappear before their eyes. An unflinching exposé of the effects of uncontrolled settlement on one of the last virgin territories of the planet.
Exploring the beauty, rigor, and impact of socially engaged art, these short vignettes were made possible by A Blade of Glass (ABOG), which provides resources for artists reaching beyond boundaries and into communities to contribute creatively to social change. ABOG supports this work through a national fellowship program and related programs such as short documentary films.
The Global Connection: Saving Florida's Springs
If we observe and listen closely, our world communicates to us. The director with producer Tessa Skiles, travelling the Springs Heartland for a year, explored the hidden gems of Florida and consulted with leading experts on the current state of Florida's water resources. From springs hunting to mystical mermaids to interviews with National Geographic explorers, this film educates us on the threats facing the water Floridians consume every day and how Florida springs are a looking glass into the health of our most vital natural resource.
Hidden Secrets of Florida Springs
Florida has over 1,000 freshwater springs, more than anywhere else in the world. Not only do these springs nurture a wonderland of plants and wildlife, they flow from an aquifer that provides drinking water for 90% of Floridians. Their value for recreation, real estate, and potable water is measured in billions of dollars. Rare footage illustrates the springs’ beauty but also reveals that humans may have done more damage to them in the last 50 years than in the last 10,000 years.
Huicholes del Tabaco (The People of Tobacco)
Year after year, family members of an indigenous ethnic group of Huicholes, from the Sierra Madre of Nayarit and Jalisco, leave their communities with their entire families to work as tobacco laborers. Including pregnant women and children, they live at the tobacco fields and are exposed continuously to chemicals that cause many chronic and serious illnesses.
Inhabitants of arctic and antarctic regions wander through landscapes of dwindling ice.
We follow a race against litter– Keep Clean and Run –that journeys across Southern Italy, from Mount Vesuvius to Etna, through parks and towns, mountains and beaches: 350 kilometres of stunning views. Roberto Cavallo’s race to protest littering entailed great fatigue and even encounters with those who fight the mafia, as he and others who joined him clean up as they run and explain their mission to others.
Into the Forest I Go (Sielunmetsä)
This film transforms how the Finnish identify with nature into pictures spoken by different voices; both the famous Finnish environmentalist, Pentti Linkola, and the Finnish writer, Juha Hurme, are featured in the film as well as the director. Set entirely in forest, the protagonists sleep under spruce trees, make art, hunt with their dogs, hold techno raves in the summer night, and earn a living as forest owners. As the film progresses, we gain a view of the forest as a biological organism, as a spiritual retreat for humans, as a source of inspiration, and as a complete living environment supporting us all.
Intraterrestrial. A Fleeting Contact
The shore and the ocean. The frozen and the fluid. The artificial and the genuine. Humans and dolphins. Two ways of life. Two mentalities. Is contact possible between them? From the Dolphin Embassy, a center aiming to promote intraplanetary sustainable and harmonious development of life and consciousness.
The Invisible Mammal - The Bat Rescuer
Bats are struggling to survive, specifically in North America, where white nose syndrome is causing a sharp decline of certain species. Pertinent issues: climate change, habitat destruction, what can humans must do to prevent extinction.
Drawing from over 100 hours of never-before-seen footage that had been tucked away in the National Geographic archives for over 50 years, award-winning Morgen tells the story of a woman whose chimpanzee research challenged the male-dominated scientific field and revolutionized our understanding of the natural world. Set to an orchestral score by legendary composer Philip Glass, we get an intimate portrait of Jane Goodall—a trailblazer and one of the world’s most admired conservationists.
A puppet animation about employment.
Lake Victoria: An Ecosystem in Turmoil
Decades of mismanagement, environmental changes and a burgeoning population have created tensions for the 40 million people living on the shores of the world's second largest freshwater lake, Lake Victoria. Desperate fishermen use illegal nets and overfish the East African lake's dwindling stocks, while many fishermen have had to turn to other forms of work - much of which has a detrimental impact on the health of the lake and its residents. Lake Victoria: An Ecosystem in Turmoil follows some of those trying to eek out a living on the lake: a Kenyan fisherman who illegally crosses the border into Uganda in the search for fish; a Ugandan who gave up fishing to become a palm oil farmer; and a Tanzanian gold miner using mercury with his bare hands to extract the precious mineral from unregulated mines on the lake's shores. But how well do they comprehend the pressure that they’re putting on the lake, and can the regional governments and communities take action before irreversible damage happens?
Every three or more years, the water behind the Kirkpatrick Dam in north-central Florida is lowered. And allows more than 20 springs to cough back to life for a few months. The film explores themes of loss, wonder, and experience in nature as the inimitable artist, Margaret Ross Tolbert, experiences the magic and beauty of these disappearing forgotten springs left by the state to decay. Tolbert joins experts on a trip up the fabled Ocklawaha River to witness the transient landscape and find the lost springs of the Ocklawaha. The film defends the uniqueness of a river allowed to flow freely, celebrates the springs through Tolbert's paintings, and captivates with a first-ever filmed cave-dive by experts Mark Long and Tom Morris.
My Garden, No Longer
The people of Vanuatu, once dubbed the happiest place on earth, are struggling to maintain culture and tradition despite climate change. This film explores its impacts on Malekula Island as told through conversations villagers have with each other as they go about their daily lives attempting to grow traditional crops.
After returning from the Vietnam War, Craig Williams looked forward to life as a cabinetmaker. But in 1984, he discovered the Department of Defense planned to incinerate over 500 tons of deadly chemical weapons stockpiled in his small Kentucky hometown, Williams began the fight of his life. In this remarkable David vs. Goliath story, a small band of people led by Williams' over 3 decades, stood up to the world’s most powerful bureaucracy by building an international movement and transformed how nations destroy chemical weapons.
Now You See It
A short film about environmental damage; features the voice of Ewan McGregor.
Polly the Hip Polyp
“Now, I think I'm the coolest of the creatures in the sea but sometimes it's confusing - even just for me! 'Cause I'm a little polyp - maybe not what you call 'hip.' They named me a 'cnidarian' - who knows, but some librarian??”
In 1998, a vast power grid serving 5 million people in Canada was destroyed by an ice storm. Twenty years later researchers of that disaster are developing a new kind of resilient power grid. Based in part on the book The Grid and the Village, the film explores how to protect grids and the people they serve from war, terrorist attack, and extreme weather.
An exploration of what happens when whole communities get exposed to toxins: Naled sprayed on Miami residents to fight Zika virus, Agent Orange sprayed on the Vietcong, and release of GMO mosquitoes in Brazil with pyriproxyfen added to drinking water to fight dengue. What are the results for nature and humanity? We meet Agent Orange survivors at Vietnamese detoxification and rehabilitation centers, parents of babies born with microcephaly from Zika virus, and Florida residents dealing with efforts to kill mosquitoes carrying Zika virus. Perspectives of doctors, scientists, and politicians are balanced with voices of ordinary citizens and victims to explore concerns about the potential impact on current and future generations.
Standing Rock Take Me From The River
Thousands from across the political spectrum were inspired to travel to Standing Rock and join the resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. In Spring 2016, the call went out, and no one would have guessed the movement would gain so much support around the world. The fight is not over: The sacred fire has been kicked out, but the embers are still ablaze in water protectors everywhere as Native Americans lead the important challenges to protect our environment.
Steroids Are Bad for the Brain
One man quits taking prednisone and takes up alternative medicine to save his mind.
Yamuna: The Stolen River
Six young people in rural India set out on a journey to find out who is poisoning their sacred river, the Yamuna, causing people and animals to die en masse. When they arrive at the foothills of the Himalayas, a shocking reality unfolds: their river has been “stolen”–replaced by an open flow of sewage, causing a major ecological disaster affecting tens of millions–to which, unknowingly, the whole world contributes. Can they save the river, people’s lives, and their holy land, the very heart of ancient Indian culture?
With colorful animation depicting the history of straws and segments narrated by Oscar winner, Tim Robbins, we learn about problems caused by plastic pollution and how to be part of the solution. Each day in the U.S., over 500,000,000 straws are used once and tossed. The vast majority aren't recycled and end up in landfills, litter streets, or add to an estimated 8.5 metric tons of debris in oceans annually. Ocean Conservancy ranks plastic straws as the fifth most frequent item found on beaches.
Streams of Plastic
Rivers and creeks are like arteries that flow to our heart, the ocean. Plastic pollution is like cholesterol. In Central America and Southeast Asia groups are helping to stop the flow of plastic pollution to prevent impacts further downstream or on the sea and along our coastlines and reefs. Use the Global Alert app/platform to inspire cleanups and long-term solutions.
The Thinking Garden
In a village in South Africa in the dying days of apartheid, 3 generations of older women created a community garden in the midst of severe drought and political turmoil, despite limited access to land and little political voice. They named their garden Hleketani – “thinking” in the local xiTsonga language – a place where women gather to think about how to solve problems.
The Trees Around You
A journey among old-growth forests on Vancouver Island and the indigenous people that live among them. Many of the areas in this film have been logged, and this footage is some of the last to see them in their full glory.
The story of a community’s successful fight to protect their water from the oil and natural gas industry. In 2013, Texas-based SWN Resources arrived in New Brunswick, Canada, a region known for forestry, farming, and fishing, both commercial and small-scale subsistence operations that the rural community depend on. A multicultural group of unlikely warriors united and set up road blockades to prevent oil exploration. After months of resistance, their efforts not only halted drilling, they elected a new government and won an indefinite moratorium on fracking.
A film about Dan Broun and Al Long, two wilderness photographers passionate about wilderness go deep in the Tarkine rainforest and explore the wild Tasmanian landscape of extraordinary beauty. Dan and Al discuss their inspiration and their involvement in an artist initiative to save this rainforest – ‘Tarkine in Motion.”
For Your Grandchildren
Black Tide is a documentary about the ongoing environmental crisis with South Florida's water, due to mismanagement by the Army Corps. of Engineers and the power of Big Sugar.