Jeff Orlowski’s Chasing Ice
Nate von Zumwalt
In this eco-conscious age of hybrid vehicles, carbon-cutting cleaning products, and urban composting, Earth Day appears to have ascended the holiday hierarchy—to heights that perhaps even the crunchiest of its 1970s creators couldn’t have envisioned.
This Sunday, April 22, marks the 42nd Earth Day, and Sundance Institute’s #ArtistServices program is currently offering a pair of documentaries for home viewing that confront vastly different (but equally alarming) stories addressing urgent threats to the environment.
To commemorate Earth Day this year, we’re offering a solution to Kermit the Frog’s famous lament that “it isn’t easy being green” with our hand-picked selection of sustainability-themed Sundance Film Festival favorites below.
Clear Cut: The Story of Philomath, Oregon
Peter Richardson’s 2006 Sundance Film Festival selection probes the schism that develops between a thinning logging community and rising urban population in Philomath, Oregon, where high school graduates have their college tuition paid by the late local lumber tycoon Rex Clemens. Until now, that is. A descendant in charge of the Clemens foundation, unhappy with the opposing set of values emerging in Philomath, endeavors to redefine the scholarship curriculum in order to assist logging families exclusively. Richardson’s shrewd, hands-off filmmaking leaves the storytelling to the subjects in this unique tale of a town divided.
Semper Fi: Always Faithful
Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger devoted more than two decades of his life to his country as a consummate Marine. In 1983, he lost his 9-year-old daughter to a rare type of leukemia. After reports of toxic water wells at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune are made public, Ensminger makes it his personal undertaking to extend the investigation and find justice and peace for his family and others.
Directors Rachel Libert and Tony Hardmon’s astonishing exposé is equal parts disturbing and necessary, heart-breaking and rousing, detailing a horrific case of betrayal by the U.S. military against the most undeserving of victims.
Arguably the most influential environmental documentary of our time, Davis Guggenheim’s 2006 Sundance Film Festival selection and Academy Award winner is credited with educating the public about climate change and spawning the larger global warming movement.
Tia Lessin and Carl Deal’s Grand Jury Prize-winning documentary expertly weaves home video, news broadcasts, and original footage to rewrite the coverage of Hurricane Katrina through the experiences of a New Orleans couple.
Director Jeff Orlowski tracks photographer James Balog’s efforts to gather visual evidence of the Earth’s melting glaciers with time-lapse photography in this breathtaking documentary.
Mohammed Nasheed is the first-ever democratically elected president of the Maldives and is charged with keeping his Islamic country afloat—literally—against nature’s will and the threat of climate change.
Stuart Sender’s call to action documentary about the Prince of Wales’ environmental activism will play at Sundance London later this month. Click here to learn more.