Riverkeeper attends the Wild & Scenic Film Festival

'Must See' Enviro Films for 2016

By Abigail Cermak, Hanford Coordinator

Left to right, Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky, Senior Organizer; Abigail Cermak, Hanford Coordinator, on the Green Carpet at Wild & Scenic.

At the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, I was honored to represent Columbia Riverkeeper in promoting our film Hanford: A Race Against Time. I also had the opportunity to be surrounded by hundreds of environmental activists and film makers, all who want nothing more than to protect our earth for future generations. I found renewed hope in knowing that these types of events offer a unique atmosphere to talk about issues facing our environment and to encourage people to take action. Over 5,000 people attended the festival and I have a feeling that most ended the weekend realizing they too can get involved and change the world.

Yes, there were adventure films and jaw-dropping beautiful films about protecting nature, but what struck me the most, were the films that echoed a very similar message to our own Hanford: A Race Against Time. Although our region is home to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the nation’s most contaminated site, I was humbly reminded that there are thousands of contaminated sites around the world with communities just like ours who are fighting to protect, preserve, and advocate for cleaning up the spaces they view as sacred, as home.

 Our world is beautiful and we have a responsibility to correct the mistakes of the past and move forward as stewards of the earth. Here are a few films I highly recommend viewing:

The Polygon

The Polygon reveals the legacy of the Soviet Union’s extensive nuclear testing program at the Semipalatinsk Test Site in Kazakhstan. There, over 600 nuclear bombs were detonated from 1949 to 1991. The film revisits the history of these tragic Cold War experiments, and profiles the unfortunate victims who remain today and are still suffering with little or no compensation.

Shadow of Giant

Examine one of Canada’s largest environmental disasters, Yellowknife’s Giant Mine, through the community members who live on top of it, as they re-imagine a brighter future for what is currently a toxic legacy.

Our Canyon Lands

Home to a vibrant array of native American cultures, intact archaeological sites and some of the most stunning landscapes in the world, the Canyon Lands of Utah have become the playground of adventurous souls who love and appreciate the wonder of wild places. It has also become the target of greedy industrialists, who threaten to turn our treasured parks into islands, our canyons into roaring hydrocarbon highways and our rivers into endangered arteries among vast swaths of oil and gas development, uranium and potash mining bordering Canyonlands National Park.

Jumbo Wild

This gorgeous and gripping documentary captures the true story of the decades-long struggle over the future of the Jumbo Valley of British Columbia’s Purcell Mountains. Set against a backdrop of toothy spires and some of the deepest snow on earth, the film takes audiences on a journey into the raw and rugged peaks of British Columbia. Exploring an epic tug of war between a proposed large-scale ski resort on one side and community members, First Nations, and conservationists on the other, the film documents a fierce ideological battle surrounding how we value land and why we care so deeply about our wild backyards.

eXXpedition: Making the Unseen Seen

Follow the journey of 14 women who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean on a scientific research mission to make the unseen seen – from the plastics and toxics in our oceans to those in our bodies. A story of sailing, science, female leadership, exploration, citizen engagement and the vital interconnections between human and environmental health - it aims to inspire hope for a healthier future.