One Earth Film Festival brings messages of hope for the planet


With two successful festivals to their credit, organizers of the One Earth Film Festival have higher expectations coming into the third year. They’re intent on bringing the most compelling environmental films to more viewers in more locations throughout Chicagoland in 2014. As in past years, festival films must fit five main areas (energy, food, water, transportation and waste/recycling) and more than a dozen topic categories, such as architecture/sustainable building, environmental advocacy, climate change, and social justice. The film review team pays special attention to selections deemed appropriate for children. Every chosen film is intended to “educate, raise awareness and inspire the adoption of solution-oriented sustainable actions."

Read more about the selection process and meet some of the film review team.

20131208_195810-1 copyThe film selection process

For the 15 members of the film team, the process started this past fall as they began compiling a masterlist of nearly 200, aiming to get that list down to about 30 feature and short-length films for the festival in March 2014. Each team member then created a “watchlist” of up to eight films that they would view all the way through and complete a Film Report Card on each. The watchlist list was further reduced to a “go-list” of the reviewers’ top films.

All films on the go-list required a second - and sometimes third - reviewer to vet them. A final film selection meeting identified about 45 films.  The final festival line-up will be officially announced in late December/early January.

The results are worth the work

In the end, after all the films have been screened at the festival and their messages absorbed, members of the selection team are hoping something meaningful happens.

We asked our film reviewers to share some thoughts on the 2014 festival and film selection process. Here’s what several said:

Q: How would you describe your experience selecting films for One Earth Film Fest 2014?

Jo Ellen Siddens, Restoration Ecologist/Marine Diver, resident of Downers Grove: "As a second year member of the Film Selection Team, I have been willingly drawn from outside the immediate Green Community Connections community into the Film Fest's exciting early years of development.  The intense passion and great camaraderie shared among team members at this "grass roots" level is inspiring. I am convinced that the One Earth Film Festival is on the path to becoming the Chicago area nexus for screening critical environmental messages."

Gloria Araya, Associate Director The Foundation for Human Potential, resident of Chicago: "Watching films I consider to have negative messages makes me turn around and to focus more and more on what’s positive out there, and how to find ways to bring it out into light. There is so much focus on what’s wrong around us, and yet, there is so much to be thankful and grateful for. It is in the presence of beauty, and how this beauty makes people feel that they/we “fall in love”. It is my humble opinion that if the focus of the festival is more and more on what is good out there, and how to do more of that, instead of focusing on what’s so wrong, One Earth Film Festival may become then a path to take where everyone who attends the festival may start to fall in love with this beautiful place call Earth, and then true change will start to take place in the hearts, and minds of people."

OEFF-film team-2

Q: What compelling messages are you seeing in One Earth film possibilities that you are reviewing currently?

Cassandra West, founder of Media Access, resident of Oak Park: “One of the messages coming through in film after film is that the Earth's destiny is in our hands. We all have some measure of power to combat climate change, improve the air, water and soil. Everything we need to do hinges on changing our desires and scaling back our wants. The Earth, as she always has, will supply all of our needs. Many of the films we’re selecting inform us of the destruction we’ve wrought and the ways to bring us back into harmony and balance with the planet.”

Ginger Vanderveer, owner of Northside Valley Eco-Vacation Villas, resident of Oak Park: “I am looking for films that uplift the human spirit. I want attendees to get excited about our community of 'greenies' that build 'One Earth'. I imagine our filmgoers running out the door (after a screening) to work on the topic that most touched their hearts. As I screen the films I send notes back and forth to various other screeners based on what I know of their passion. In turn, I get notes from my fellow screeners when they see something that they believe I would love to view. This type of camaraderie uplifts my human spirit. I am excited to work within my community and to run out and try some of the solutions portrayed on the films.”


Q: What film are you "rooting for" to make it to the final program? Why?

Sally Stovall, co-founder of Green Community Connections, resident of Oak Park: “I'm rooting for ‘Harmony’ for lots of reasons, but primarily, this is a very strong film that gets at the root of the transformation that will be needed to find our way through this crisis, i.e., changing our way of thinking to live more in harmony with the natural systems.”

Cheryl Munoz, co-founder of Sugar Beet Co-Op, resident of Oak Park: “My favorite film selection is “OMG GMO” for the simple reason that it made me happy. A documentary about GMOs is not supposed to be endearing and funny and lovable! The storyteller, in this case is fun-loving dad Jeremy Seiffert, and he pulled me in right away with his charm and earnest hopes for his two young boys. As a mother of two young kids, I connected right away with him and trusted that he was going to tell me a good story... and he did. Jeremy and his young family set out on a road trip to learn more about Genetically Modified Foods. Along the way he meets with farmers, scientists and others who are impacted by industrial agriculture. Sure, I felt outraged by the lack of information regarding GMOs and looming safety concerns and how corporate greed trumps the common good, but I was ultimately cheered on by Jeremy, his family and the people he met along his journey that are working to label and restrict the use of GM foods. The message is hopeful.”