Oct. 31--A cornucopia of conservation issues, from fracking to nuclear energy, awaits film-goers at this weekend's American Conservation Film Festival in Shepherdstown, W.Va.
Friday night is Frack Night at the festival, featuring the film "FrackNation," along with shorts "Backyard" and "Dear Governor Cuomo," followed by a panel discussion on fracking, or hydraulic fracturing. This method extracts natural gas out of rock embedded deep in the earth.
Saturday night is Nuke Night, featuring "Yellow Fever" and "Pandora's Promise," followed by a panel discussion on nuclear energy.
The festival, featuring over 60 films shown in five venues, begins tonight and concludes Sunday evening. Films cover a host of environmental issues, from whales to watershed conservation to desert preservation.
Film-goers will get a second chance to see festival award-winners and audience favorites on Sunday. Twenty-nine filmmakers will be on hand to answer questions.
"It's grown every year," said Lissa Cobetto, executive director of the festival. "In the last two years, the audience size has grown by 2,000."
Films may be about more than conservation of the environment, Cobetto said. "We're not just concerned about conservation of the Earth. We're also concerned about conservation of cultures."
One of this year's films, "The Hungry Tide," focuses on the Central Pacific nation of Kiribati, one of the most vulnerable in the world to climate change. Sea-level rise and increasing salinity are threatening the lives of the nation's 105,000 people, spread over 33 atolls.
Closer to home, "Deep Down: A Story from the Heart of Coal Country," examines the effects of mountaintop removal coal mining on an Eastern Kentucky community.
The Friday and Saturday evening sessions will appeal to those who want to learn about all sides of an environmental issue, Cobetto said. "We will feature films on both sides and panelists on both sides," she said. Experts in fracking will debate the pros and cons.
Nuke Night will feature the film "Yellow Fever," which examines the effects of uranium mining on Native American culture. "Pandora's Promise" will feature a number of environmentalists who have changed their position from anti-nuclear energy to pro-nuclear energy, in part because new technology makes nuclear energy cleaner.
The films are often made at the grassroots level. "These are filmmakers who are doing these out of their own pockets," Cobetto said.
Some films change attitudes. A few years ago, the festival featured the film "Bag It," about plastic bags. "People watched that film and immediately went out and got canvas bags," she said. This year's festival features the film "Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch," about large globs of plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean, on Friday evening.
"No one's going to watch that film unchanged," Cobetto said.
What: American Conservation Film Festival begins tonight at 6:45 p.m., and the last screening is Sunday at 7:30 p.m.
Films are in four venues around Shepherdstown, W.Va. -- Opera House, 131 W. German St.; The Byrd Center for Legislative Studies Auditorium, 213 N. King St.; Reynolds Hall, 109 N. King St.; the National Conservation Training Center, or NCTC, 698 Conservation Way.
Full festival pass is $40, $36 for seniors 65 and older and military with ID. Blocks are $10 and $8. Films at NCTC are free with government-issued ID.
For more, including schedule and film information, go to conservationfilm.org.
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