Sundance Film Fest 2010 Debuts New Hot Eco-Docs


Image from Gasland of everything and the kitchen sink with director Josh Fox.

This year's environmentally-conscious Sundance Film Festival opens today in Park City, Utah with Hollywood heavies and aspiring filmmakers abuzz. Last year, it premiered a respectable batch of eco-themed films that got some serious attention, including Crude, No Impact Man, Big River Man, Earth Days, and the award-winning The Cove. The green screenings at the 2010 event feature an excellent selection - and leaping aboard cinema's latest trend, there's even an unnatural disaster film in 3D!Here are some green highlights of the Sundance Film Festival TwentyTen:


Toxic skin and glands make Bufo marinus lethal to ingest. Photo by Stephen Barnett via Flickr
Cane Toads: The Conquest
The amphibian varmints return to the big screen--leaping forth in 3D. In his 1988 documentary Cane Toads: An Unnatural History, filmmaker Mark Lewis exposed the biological blunder of introducing the non-native cane toad to Australia to save the sugar cane crop. With his amusing and provocative sequel, Cane Toads: The Conquest, the giant species' unstoppable invasion across Australia is revealed as an environmental catastrophe.


GasLand
Can you turn on your tap and get a burst of flames? Rural landowners are receiving lucrative offers from energy firms seeking to lease property and suck into America's underground reservoir, dubbed the "Saudi Arabia of natural gas." Since Halliburton developed "fracking," a hydraulic process of extracting gas, the energy source appears to be a goldmine. But what comes with it? When filmmaker Josh Fox gets an offer, he follows these gas deals across 32 states in GasLand to discover toxic streams, ruined aquifers, dying livestock, illnesses, and kitchen sinks on fire.


Waste Land
Artist Vik Muniz creates images using found materials including toy soldiers, diamonds, dirt, and spaghetti. He reconstructed a portrait of Caravaggio's "Narcissus" from recycled giant junk. His powerful "Sugar Children" series depicts Caribbean child laborers in sugar. In Waste Land, filmmaker Lucy Walker shoots the captivating Muniz working in his native Brazil at the world's largest landfill outside Rio with its band of catadores, self-designated garbage pickers, in a transformative photographic project. With music by Moby.


Climate Refugees
In Climate Refugees, filmmaker Michael Nash travels the world to document environmental migrants, the millions of people displaced by global warming from the resulting loss of natural resources. The hot spots include the submerging islands of Tuvalu in the South Pacific, drought-ravaged regions of Sudan, stormy coastlines of Bangladesh, and rapidly expanding deserts in China. He shows compelling testimony from victims, politicians, scientists, and relief organizations on the problems and solutions of the imminent crisis.

Greening the Festival

Here are a few of my favorite green things at Robert Redford's annual cineaste's event: Free shuttles and walking paths to discourage film fans from driving around town. Brita supplies FilterForGood reusable bottles and refill stations at Hydration Hubs. The fest's guide is available via an iPhone app. Festival merchandise is repurposed, recycled or reusable and made by domestic manufacturers to lower the carbon footprint.

With eco-dystopia all the rage and mega-blockbuster Avatar promoting the theme, watch for these doses of environmental reality, coming to your theater in 2010.

More on environmental films:
Today on Planet 100: The Top 5 Environmental Films
9 Best Eco Apocalyptic Science Fiction Films of All Time
Reel Impact: Environmental Documentary Series

Tags: Documentaries | Global Climate Change | Movies | Utah