A Very Green Festival

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the launch of the first annual San Francisco Green Film Festival, a labor of love for Rachel Caplan, the festival’s founder and executive director.

Caplan is the former festival director for the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival, the first and largest showcase for ocean-related films in North America. After realizing that San Francisco did not have a green film festival of its own – shocking, right? — Caplan founded the San Francisco Green Film Festival to provide a forum for films and discussions that link media arts with environmental activism.

The festival kicked off with a kick ass event: First, a screening of the documentary “Bag It” at the Landmark Theatres Embarcadero Center Cinema, then a fantastic party at the the beautiful LEED-certified Bently Reserve.

Wonderful from start to finish.

The film, which is an examination of the far-reaching effects plastics – specifically single-use plastics like bottles and bags — have on our daily lives and the planet, really struck a chord with me.

The film chronicles Jeb Berrier’s journey through our plastic world, starting with a simple question: What are plastic bags really made of? The fact that the “experts” can’t even seem to agree on an answer is just one of the disturbing truths uncovered in the film.

I loved the tone of the film because Berrier is not a radical environmentalist, just an ordinary guy who is taking a closer look at an item we all see hundreds of times a week: a plastic bag. When Berrier and his partner learn that they are expecting a baby, Berrier’s quest to understand the affects plastic has on both human health and on the health of the environment takes on a new urgency.

He starts by asking simple questions, namely are plastic bags really necessary? And what happens to them once they have been discarded?

What he learns quickly snowballs into a bevy of other, larger questions.

Here are just some of the facts uncovered in the film:

  • The average American uses 500 plastic bags per year, for an average of 12 minutes each.
  • Two million plastic bottles are used in the United States, every five minutes.
  • Ireland reduced its plastic bag use by 90 percent after instituting a fee on single-use plastic bags.

“Think about it,” Berrier says in the film. “Why would you make something that you are going to use for a few minutes out of a material that’s basically going to last forever, and you’re just going to throw it away? What’s up with that?”

What I took away from the film is a reminder that when we say, “Oh, just throw that away”, there really is no AWAY. Everything we toss just goes someplace else. In the case of plastic, too often that is into oceans and streams and into the bellies of wildlife.

Click here to view a trailer of the film, which will be airing on National Public Television beginning on April 18.

The after party was a feat in and of itself, complete with art, music and terrific food from local sustainable food and beverage companies like Strauss Family Creamery, Aidells Sausage Company, Bison Brewing Company and Frey Vineyards.

The opening night festivities were presented in partnership with the Plastic Pollution Coalition, a global alliance of individuals, organizations, and businesses working together to stop plastic pollution and its toxic impacts on humans, animals, and the environment.

The festival runs through Sunday and tickets are still available. For a schedule of films and ticket information, click here.

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One Response to “A Very Green Festival”

  1. Ross Wolfe says:

    Recently I wrote a blog entry offering a leftist critique of the ideology of “Green” environmentalism, animal rights activism, eco-friendliness, and lifestyle politics in general (veganism, “dumpster diving,” “buying organic,” etc.). I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter and any responses you might have to its criticisms.

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