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A Fierce Green Fire; The First Big-Picture Documentary History of the Environmental Movement Has a Message About Out Future

Photo of Peter Belsito By Peter Belsito | SydneysBuzz September 28, 2013 at 8:30AM

The timing couldn’t be better for seeing A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet -- the first big-picture exploration of the environmental movement
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Mark Kitchell's 'A Firece Green Fire'
Mark Kitchell's 'A Firece Green Fire'

Los Angeles, home of the most ambitious and successful environmental movements, will see eight free screenings of “A Fierce Green Fire” in late September and early October

The timing couldn’t be better for seeing A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet -- the first big-picture exploration of the environmental movement, fifty years of activism from conservation to climate change. From Fukushima to fracking, Keystone XL to climate change, the world has never been more in need of a reminder that people can, and have, solved huge environmental problems.

And what better place to show this landmark film than Los Angeles, home to some of the most ambitious, innovative and successful environmental efforts in the country. From saving Mono Lake and healing Santa Monica Bay, to leading efforts to reduce smog that changed the entire automobile industry and pioneering climate legislation, no region in America has had a more distinct record of environmental success.

Directed and written by Mark Kitchell, Academy-Award nominated director of Berkeley in the Sixties, and narrated by Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Ashley Judd, Van Jones and Isabel Allende, A Fierce Green Fire premiered at Sundance Film Festival. It chronicles the largest movement of the 20th century and one of the keys to the 21st. It brings together all the major parts of environmentalism and connects them. It focuses on activism, people fighting to save their homes, their lives, the future – and succeeding against all odds.

The film unfolds in five acts, each with a central story and character:

• David Brower and the Sierra Club’s battle to halt dams in the Grand Canyon

• Lois Gibbs and the Love Canal residents’ struggle against 20,000 tons of toxic chemicals
• Paul Watson and Greenpeace’s campaigns to save whales and baby harp seals
• Chico Mendes and Brazilian rubber tappers’ fight to save the Amazon rainforest

• Bill McKibben and the 25-year effort to address the impossible issue – climate change

Greenpeace Protests Russian Whaling
Greenpeace Protests Russian Whaling

Surrounding these main stories are strands like environmental justice, going back to the land, and movements of the global south such as Wangari Maathai in Kenya. Vivid archival film brings it all back and insightful interviews with activists shed light on what it all means. The film offers a deeper view of environmentalism as civilizational change, bringing our industrial society into sustainable balance with nature. It’s the battle for a living planet.

The film arrives at a moment of promise: 25 years after Dr. James Hansen first warned of global warming; 8 years after Katrina; 3 years after the Gulf oil disaster; 2 years after meltdown at Fukushima and first stopping the Keystone Pipeline; and 1 year since the wake-up call that was Hurricane Sandy, the capper to the hottest year on record. 2013 may be the year that grassroots pressure finally forces action to halt climate change. A FIERCE GREEN FIRE gives us reason to believe.

All of the Southland screenings are free and (except UCLA) open to the public. Each will be followed by a discussion featuring local environmental leaders and the filmmaker. Below is a list of screenings and participants.

THE BIG FOUR:

Wednesday, September 25, at 7 pm

Santa Monica Public Library, 601 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA

Panel discussion: Matthew King, Heal the Bay; Robert Gottlieb, renowned author of “Forcing the Spring” and professor at Occidental College

Friday, September 27, at 5:30 pm

West Hollywood Public Library, 8272 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA

Panel Discussion: Angelo Logan, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice; Juana Torres, Sierra Club; Michele Prichard, Liberty Hill Foundation’s Common Agenda

Thursday, October 3, 6 pm

Pasadena Central Public Library Auditorium, 285 East Walnut Street Pasadena, CA

Speaker: Shannon Biggs of Global Exchange on fracking coming to California

Friday, October 4, at 6 pm

G2 Gallery, 1503 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA
Panel Discussion: Bill Gallegos, Communities for a Better Environment; Michele Prichard, Liberty Hill Foundation’s Common Agenda

(opening of G2’s Green Earth Film Fest -- space is limited, so RSVP: theG2Gallery.com)

Three area colleges and an arts center in Long Beach:

Pitzer College, Robert Redford Conservancy -- Monday, September 30 in Claremont, CA

UCLA Institute of Environmental Sciences -- Wednesday, October 2 (campus community only)
CSU Long Beach, Multicultural Center -- Thursday, September 26, noon

CALBArts, Bungalow Art Center, 729 Pine, Long Beach -- Friday, September 27th, 7pm

ABOUT THE FILM


Early Praise for A Fierce Green Fire:

A Fierce Green Fire poster

"The material is vast and it’s an incredibly dynamic film. It’s shaping up to be the documentary of record on the environmental movement." - Cara Mertes, former director of Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program

"Winningly spans the broad scope of environmental history… connecting its origins with the variety of issues still challenging society today." - Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter

"Rarely do environmental-themed films come with the ambitious scope of ‘A Fierce Green Fire’… which aims at nothing less than the history of environmentalism itself." - Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times

"The most ambitious environmental documentary since 'An Inconvenient Truth' tries to make the case that we just might win." - Michael Roberts, Outside Magazine

"The film left me emotionally drained and profoundly hopeful." -Bruce Barcott, On Earth Magazine

"Brilliant! Should be assigned viewing for all of us, especially those political leaders currently manning the helm of spaceship earth." - Jay Meehan, Park Record


ABOUT THE PRINCIPALS AND PEOPLE FEATURED IN THE FILM

Lois Gibbs, leader of Love Canal Homeowners Association, holding hostage EPA representatives.
Lois Gibbs, leader of Love Canal Homeowners Association, holding hostage EPA representatives.

Director/Producer/Writer Mark Kitchell’s Berkeley in the Sixties – one of the defining films about the protest movements that shook America during the 1960s – received the Sundance Audience Award and was nominated for an Academy Award. Executive Producer Marc Weiss is the creator and former Executive Producer of P.O.V., the award-winning series now in its 26th season on PBS. Interviews were shot by Vicente Franco. It was edited by Ken Schneider, Veronica Selver, Jon Beckhardt and Gary Weimberg. Original music is by George Michalski and Dave Denny, Garth Stevenson, Randall Wallace and Todd Boekelheide. Narrators include: Robert Redford; Ashley Judd; activist Van Jones; author Isabel Allende; and Meryl Streep.

FEATURED IN THE FILM ARE:

The incomparable Lois Gibbs, leader of Love Canal; Paul “I work for whales” Watson; Bill McKibben, author and founder of 350.org; Paul Hawken and Stewart Brand, alternative ecology visionaries; Martin Litton, at 92 thundering, “If you haven’t got any hatred in your heart, what are you living on?”; Carl Pope and John Adams, longtime heads of the Sierra Club and NRDC; and Bob Bullard, who closes the film on a universal note: “There’s no Hispanic air. There’s no African-American air. There’s air! And if you breathe air – and most people I know do breathe air – then I would consider you an environmentalist.”


This article is related to: A Fierce Green Fire, Mark Kitchell, Berkeley in the Sixties, Sundance Film Festival, Sundance 2012 Films, Academy Awards, International Film Festival, International Film Market, Climate Change

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