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Documentary festival explores environmental issues

Nicole Vermeer

The first Earth Day Film Festival will premiere on Apr. 22 at 6 p.m. in Lisser Hall. Students involved in the event hope it will bring environmental recognition to Mills College.

Organized by Mills senior Heather Altherr, the film festival is part of Earth Week, which runs from Apr. 20-24. It will consist of three films, one long and two short, and admission is free.

Altherr said she thinks a film festival is an important tool to educate the Mills community about the environment.

“I believe that our society is becoming increasingly visually oriented and learning will take place in visual mediums of video, photography, and graphics,” Altherr said.

This event, along with the rest of this year’s Earth Week events at Mills, will focus on environmentalism as it relates to social justice, something that campus environmentalists hope will inspire more students to become involved in environmental issues.

“I’m happy to see that students are making the connection between environmental and social justice,” said environmental science professor Kristina Faul.

“People don’t realize environmental justice is a universal issue,” said Earth C.O.R.P.S President Magee Page, a sophomore. “It often becomes classist, but the films present environmentalism as being important to everyone.”

Altherr said she chose films not only for their environmental message but also to bring attention to women in the film industry.

“I believe women and minorities are underrepresented in the film industries and I want to showcase some of these talented women-led documentaries,” Altherr said.

All three films that will be shown in the festival were directed by women.The topics of the three films show varying social aspects of the environmental movement.

Flow, directed by Irena Salina, is about the world water crisis, in relation to politics and human rights.

Ladies of the Land, directed by Megan Thompson, is about women starting farms in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Mills senior Laurel Gates will be giving a short speech on her life as a farmer in Mendocino county preceding this film.

For the Price of a Cup of Coffee, directed by Hypatia Angelique Porter, examines the life cycle of a paper cup and the repercussions of a society reliant on convenience. It was filmed in San Francisco.

The event is almost entirely organized by Altherr, with help from campus recycling manager Britta Bullard and the Mills Earth C.O.R.P.S.

Altherr experienced several setbacks throughout this semester-long process.

She explained that the festival was originally meant to be a two-day event and would have included a student film contest that was open to students all over the Bay Area.

However, not enough students submitted films to make this feasible, according to Altherr. Then funding became an issue.

Students submitted a grant request to ASMC for $2500. They were only granted $900.

“I had to learn to make some creative decisions with little money,” Altherr said.

Bullard remains positive even with the setbacks. “The passion of those contributing pieces will remain,” she said.ÿ

Bullard has worked with Earth C.O.R.P.S for the past year and said she is inspired by the work students such as Altherr contribute.

Food will be served at the festival. Oakland community organization Youth Uprising, a non-profit that provides youth with leadership and work programs, will cater the event.

In addition, the Deep Water Dance Company will perform an excerpt from their recent production.

Mills graduate student Liz Sexe will also perform an environmentally-inspired dance.