The 2012 EcoFocus Film Festival will open with a screening of Buck, a documentary about the animal-human bond that follows cowboy Buck Brannaman as he teaches people to communicate with horses using compassion instead of punishment. Winner of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival Audience Favorite award, Buck is one of the 18 feature-length and 22 short films to be shown at EcoFocus, which this year runs from March 23-31 at Ciné and various locations across the University of Georgia campus.
EcoFocus, an initiative of the UGA Odum School of Ecology, features top-quality feature-length, short, and children’s films addressing a wide range of environmental issues, in conjunction with special events, panel discussions, and question-and-answer sessions with filmmakers in person or via live video chat. As in previous years, audience members will also vote for their favorite feature-length, short, and children’s film, which will be announced at the closing night festivities on Saturday, March 31.
“EcoFocus 2012 includes something for everyone,” said festival director Sara Beresford. Among the multiple-award winning films selected for this year’s festival are Academy Award nominee If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, about the consequences of eco-terrorism; Blood in the Mobile, about the connection between our cell phones and human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo where minerals needed for their manufacture are mined; and Revenge of the Electric Car, which chronicles the remarkable comeback of these vehicles since 2006, when existing electric cars were destroyed by their makers.
Special events include opening and closing night parties (March 23 and 31), EcoKids short films and family-friendly films on Sunday, March 25, and a Bike Film event and party at Little Kings with music by Hope for a Goldensummer. Special mid-week, on-campus screenings include Sushi: The Global Catch, at the Georgia Museum of Art on Thursday, March 29, with filmmaker Mark Hall and a panel of marine ecosystem experts and restaurateurs on hand to discuss the ecological implications as sushi grows in worldwide popularity. An environmental selection from the George Foster Peabody Awards Archive will be shown on Wednesday, March 28 at the new Richard B. Russell Special Collections Library building on the UGA campus.
Other notable films this year include The City Dark, about light pollution and the vanishing night sky; and Semper Fi: Always Faithful, which tells the story of Marine Corps Master Sergeant Jerry Ensminger who lost his young daughter to leukemia and then discovered that toxic chemicals had been contaminating tap water at Camp Lejeune since the 1950s. Ensminger and Mike Partain, whose story is also chronicled in the film, will be on hand for an audience discussion after the film.
The festival closes with You’ve Been Trumped, about the fight by residents of northern Scotland to stop Donald Trump from turning an environmentally sensitive stretch of coast into a luxury golf resort.
EcoFocus will also host a special free pre-festival screening of YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip, a “docu-comedy” that follows three friends as they travel across the U.S. looking for ecological innovators tackling the world’s environmental challenges with creativity and joy. YERT will screen at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21 at the Miller Learning Center on the UGA campus.
Tickets to most EcoFocus events are either $5 or free. Passes are also available. Tickets to opening and closing night parties are $15. Tickets and passes will be available online at www.ecofocusfilmfest.org and at the Ciné box office beginning March 1.
EcoFocus is made possible by the support of many individuals, organizations, foundations, and sponsors from the Athens community and beyond. More information, including the detailed festival schedule and complete listing of films, is available online at www.ecofocusfilmfest.org.