This weekend, the inaugural UK Green Film Festival takes place at the Glasgow Film Theatre, and as the media coverage of the Arab spring lessens, a wider conversation on the environmental privation now facing the spread of nations can be had. As water shortages threaten the survival of growing populations in North Africa, the revolutionary political message being sent out to the world is tinted with an ecological overhang.
As the Arab world exposes the democratic frailties in government, so we must turn to our documentary makers to expose the eco-political conspirators who jeopardise our fresh water, clean air and natural landscapes. The highlights include Josh Fox’s eye-opening film GasLand which documents the pollution caused by ‘fracking’ in the USA: a process which drills the earth for natural gas. Fox not only condemns the moral behaviour of the regulators who allow it, but flaunts the political corruption which prevents it being challenged.
Other highlights include Werner Boote’s less political, but arguably more relevant, Plastic Planet. Tracking the history of plastic from its industrial conception to its everyday functionality and usage, the doc-film offers more of an industrio-materialism satire than party corruption exposé, and yet both films represent two sides of the same coin: drawing attention to the narrower details which we mightn’t know about houses an investigative side to our world which balances an equilibrium between knowledge and application.
The environmental concerns facing our world are scarily pressing; a matter discussed with fervency in Al Gore’s sobering 2006 lecture-film An Inconvenient Truth. So the nature of solutions, methodologies and the funding which will support research and action against an increasing shift in natural preservation needs to be constantly critiqued and evaluated. The Big Uneasy, a film appearing at the festival which explores how ill-prepared New Orleans was for Hurricane Katrina, sees creator Harry Shearer available via Skype for a debate on worldwide ecological struggles and to discuss the film itself.
On the same week that Chris Huhne pledges to halve UK carbon emissions by 2025 – an admirable if not questionably vacuous statement, the festival will provide a lavish backdrop for a larger debate on the sincerity of British environmental priority and policy making. If environmental issues aren’t on the government’s main agenda, festivals such as this will hopefully rouse enough interest, support and passion to inflame the concerns of our leaders. Hopefully.