Review: RVA Environmental Film Festival

by | Feb 12, 2018 | COMMUNITY

Rising sea levels are a threat and its detrimental effects can be seen both abroad in our own backyard. Two short documentaries screened in Richmond over the weekend captured this very issue. 

EPA director Scott Pruitt recently said that the rapidly occurring climate warming “may not be a bad thing”  should probably have watched Adaptation Bangladesh: Sea Level Rise, before commenting on the subject. The film, which premiered this weekend at the annual RVA Environmental Film Film Festival, gives a glimpse into how people are adjusting and experimenting with new methods to deal with environmental change. Specifically, how the people of Bangladesh are coping with the tremendous impact of rising sea levels. 

The 8th Annual Environmental Film Festival, which featured local and national films at several venues around town this past week and weekend, aimed to educate and raise awareness on a variety of environmental issues from the Dakota pipeline protests, to rapidly disappearing coral reefs, to the Flint water crisis.

Directed by Anne Phillips, Adaptation Bangladesh: Sea Level Rise highlights how Bengalis farmers are improvising by building organic floating gardens and other buoyant infrastructure. Most notable were the floating gardens that are at least these 20 feet long structures that is a mishmash of several things including manure that the Bengalis use to grow their crops. Life must be difficult for those in the in the flooding zones of Bangladesh, but they have found a way to adapt and survive. Adaptation Bangladesh: Sea Level Rise is just one part of a three-part series by Phillips. 

Closer to home, rising sea levels are also impacting Hampton Roads with flooding occurring at an abnormal rate as shown in the screening of Tidewater. The documentary, directed by Roger Sorkin, takes a look at the home of the world’s largest naval base, and the looming impact the rising sea levels and sinking land could have on national security.

It delved into how difficult the lives of those in the Chesapeake, Norfolk, Newport News, and Virginia Beach can be on days of extreme flooding. B-roll and drone footage displayed of people kayaking through the streets and cars with water reaching as high as the cars’ windshields. 

Hampton Roads needs $1 billion in critical infrastructure repairs with 900 miles of the area’s roads threatened by the flooding.Tackling the issue will mean stakeholders, citizens, the U.S. Navy and local businesses coming together. This film showcases local leaders pioneering whole-of-government problem-solving model.

Though economics shouldn’t be the sole purpose for us to take action and reduce our carbon footprint, it is a great selling point to those who are lackadaisical about the issue. A lot of interviews were conducted throughout the film, but one that really had an emotional pull was a middle-aged woman who had to commute to take care of her elderly mother. On some days the roads were too flooded for her to visit so she went out to buy her a life vest in case of an emergency, as the elderly woman is years past her being mobile.

Even though the science isn’t as clear-cut as most environmentalists stress, it is pretty obvious that two things are occurring: human activities have a direct result in increasing the average global temperature, and higher temperatures will result in sea rise, especially in most coastal areas. 

I am biased when it comes to this issue, but both of these films have shown what climate change has done and will do and the film festival did a great job of showcasing pressing issues facing us around the world.

Photo By: Mountain Film  

Malik Hall

Malik Hall

Malik Hall is a RVA native and received his Bachelors of Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Minor in Media Studies. Writing wasn't big on his radar until he took a science journalism class in college and since then he found it as a perfect outlet for himself. Skateboarding is his favorite hobby outside of his new found love for writing.




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