The seventh incarnation of the Sustainability Film Series at the Athena Cinema, 20 N. Court St., will kick off Wednesday. The series will showcase environmental films, and its goal is to educate audiences on stories of environmental action. 

This year’s lineup features eight films, which Lorraine Wochna, a performing arts librarian at Alden Library, helped pick. She and Loraine McCosker, Environmental Studies Outreach Coordinator, compile a list of films for each year’s programming. 

“Because of my role as subject librarian for film, I know a lot of things; distributors, vendors who create content, so I also follow them and get ideas for what would be good,” Wochna said.

Wochna and McCosker strive for diversity in their selected films. From subject matter to geographical location to filmmakers, they want variety in their showcasing. 

“We’re trying to make sure that we have diversity,” Wochna said. “We have international films, we have females — not only females in the films but females making the films.”

The Sustainability Series often has discussion panels after the feature. Wochna wants the  panels to be diverse as well, so they not only feature scholars or experts but also those of every education level and experience.

“We like to have faculty, graduates, undergrads, community members, high schoolers,” she said. 

The first film in the series is “The River and the Wall.” Wochna described it as an “environmental testament to immigration.”

The film follows travelers as they make their way along the Texas-Mexico border, showcasing how a border wall would impact the environment. Wochna is very excited for this film and thinks audiences will enjoy it.

The next film in the series is “Waste Land.” The film is about artist Vik Muniz who makes art of the people who frequent and inhabit surrounding areas of the the world’s largest landfill. 

“I picked it because it was a little bit about arts and the environment,” Wochna said. “He meets all these people and starts making portraits of them from the garbage and refuse found. I just thought it was so amazing that this artist was working with these people, and he gave them a voice.”

Following that will be “Eating Animals”, a documentary investigating the meaning of consuming industry-produced meat. Wochna and McCosker have been hoping to do this film for a while, Wochna said.

“I really like the idea of a film that asks ‘what does it mean if we eat meat or not?,’ like what’s the whole big picture of it,” Wochna said. “It’s really cool.” 

The next showing in the series is a double feature, “Keepers of the Future,” a film from El Salvador, and “Greta and the Snowman,” a film about Swedish activist Greta Thunburg.

“Keepers of the Future” is a documentary on a peasant movement in El Salvador. Wochna thought that it reflected a theme constant in a lot of the films in the series.

The film “Science Fair” is a National Geographic documentary focused on high school students participating in The International Science and Engineering Fair. Wochna hopes this film draws a younger crowd.

Another feature film is “On the Front Line,” about a group of park rangers in conversation areas of Mozambique. 

“This is also another film where you see community getting involved and the environmental issues going on,” Wochna said.

The last film in the series is “Chernobyl’s Cafe,” a film about the upcoming world of tourism in the radioactive city of Chernobyl. It has been 33 years since the nuclear disaster, and though time has passed, the safety of visiting the city is still questionable. 

Being sustainable doesn’t require joining an official organization. It’s the small things that count, Wochna said. 

“One of the things I’ve learned from doing this is that you don’t have to hug a tree,” Wochna said. “You can do really small things. Even by bringing your own bottle, bringing your own pop, using less plastic — there’s a lot of little things we can do to be more sustainable.”

Sustainability is growing more and more popular these days. The series is just one effort being put in to support and educate people about sustainability. 

“It’s going to save our planet,” Gabby Hayes, a sophomore studying journalism, said. 

Like Hayes, Lauren Mccain, a sophomore studying journalism, also has found value in attending the sustainability film showings.

“I thought it was cool,” Mccain, who attended a screening of one of last year’s films in the Sustainability Series, said.  “It keeps your attention. I’d probably go again.”

Showings and panel discussions are every other Wednesday at the Athena Cinema at 7 p.m. All events are free. The Sustainability Series schedule can be found on the Athena Cinema website


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