LA Film Festival Abuzz with Green Documentaries

With 200 films from 30 countries, the Los Angeles Film Festival (June 18 to 28) in Westwood near UCLA, seems far from Hollywood. The non-profit that organizes the event "champions the cause of independent films," and though Public Enemies with Johnny Depp and the new Transformers movie will be premiered, the rest of the schedule has little connection with show biz. Among the screenings, a few high-profile documentaries cover environmental issues. So now it's time they leave the nest of fests and play in theaters for all of us to see:
Bananas!*: A Case Study (June 23)
This documentary follows the trial of Nicaraguan banana laborers against companies for poisoning them with pesticides. Between its completion and screening, critical new elements came to light. The film explores the relationship between the documentary and "the truth," and the responsibilities of activist filmmaking. Director Frednik Gerttern.


Big River Man (June 24)
"Swim for peace in the Middle East, for the Dalai Lama, for clean water, and for the rain forest." That's the mission for 53-year-old Slovene Martin Strel, who swam for 67-days, down 3,278-miles of the perilous Amazon River at a pace of 50-miles and 10 hours a day, enduring piranha nibbles to bring attention to his causes. Big River Man also swam the polluted Yangzte and Mississippi rivers. Directed by John Maringouin.


The Last Beekeeper (June 25)
A disturbing view of the struggles of three beekeepers, and the devastating effects of ecological changes happening with a mysterious illness among the bees threatens insects and businesses—as well as the honey supply and the pollination of food. Director Jeremy Simmons.


No Impact Man (June 26 and 28)
Though mocked by some media outlets, treehugger wrote about environmentalist Colin Beavan, who embarks on an extreme green living experiment, forgoing take-out, electricity and toilet paper, and dragging his reluctant wife Michelle Conlin and child along for the ride in this meaningful and entertaining documentary. Directed Laura Babbert and Justin Schein.


The Cove (June 28)
Covered recently in treehugger, The Cove got the Sundance crowd on its feet with the Audience Award and also nabbed awards at Hot Docs, Seattle, and Blue Ocean film festivals. It's called a cross between Flipper and the Bourne Identity, but this documentary is a devastating thriller following activists using covert military tactics and high-tech equipment to uncover dolphin slaughter, as well as the hoax pulled over on Japanese consumers. Director Louis Psilhoyos.

If you can't catch these films in LA, keep a lookout in theaters, since documentaries often "enjoy" a limited release. There's always DVDs but it's not the big screen which also supports the filmmakers.

More on green film festivals:
Environmental Film Festival Underway in DC
Yale's Environmental Film Fest opens with Food, Inc.
San Francisco Ocean Film Festival
First Environmental Film Festival Comes to Amsterdam
"Extinction Sucks" series and Other Ecological Films

Tags: Amazonia | Bananas | Bees | Documentaries | Dolphins | Los Angeles | Pesticides | Pollution