Category Archives: Film Series

SYRIANA – a geopolitical thriller about Big Oil

Sustainable Rossmoor will present the movie SYRIANA on Wednesday, October 11 at 7 pm in Peacock Hall.  The movie focuses on petroleum politics and the global influence of the oil industry. Big Oil’s political, economic, legal, and social effects are felt worldwide from the players brokering back-room deals in Washington to the men toiling in the oil fields of the Persian Gulf. This thriller weaves together multiple storylines that show the human consequences of the fierce pursuit of wealth and power.

A career CIA operative (George Clooney) uncovers the disturbing truth about the work to which he’s devoted his life. An up-and-coming oil broker (Matt Damon) faces an unimaginable family tragedy and finds redemption in his partnership with an idealistic Gulf prince. A corporate lawyer faces a moral dilemma as he finesses the questionable merger of two powerful U.S. oil companies, while across the globe, a disenfranchised Pakistani teenager falls prey to the recruiting efforts of a charismatic cleric. Each plays their small part in the vast and complex system that powers the industry, unaware of the explosive impact their lives will have upon the world.

Credit: Photo by REX/Snap Stills 5

Clooney won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role, and Stephen Gaghan’s script was nominated by the Academy for Best Original Screenplay. The film is R rated for violence and language. Subtitles in English. An optional discussion follows.

SYRIANA: Behind the Film.

Stephen Gaghan, Academy Award-winning screenwriter & director of Syriana, talks to Charlie Rose about learning from the real-life CIA protagonist how Washington D.C. orchestrates coupes, etc. (4 min video).

“The Oil business and the Arms business are the same business” Gaghan heard this repeatedly (1.5 min video).

Audiotape, 9 min with Gaghan about why he wanted the first half of this post 9/11 film to be confusing, why he doesn’t consider the film depressing, and where the “voices” in the film come from.

Credit: Photo by REX/Snap Stills 5

Why does the US need Middle Eastern oil? Still? We have oil wells. We’re energy independent now, . . . aren’t we?

Our “energy independence” refers to electricity generation only. In 2016, U.S. net imports (imports minus exports) of petroleum from foreign countries were equal to about 25% of U.S. petroleum consumption. The world’s top three oil producers are Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the US – in that order.

Petroleum includes crude oil, natural gas plant liquids, liquefied refinery gases, refined petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel fuel, and biofuels including ethanol and biodiesel. About 78% of gross petroleum imports were crude oil in 2016. The majority of that is refined in the US, and then exported. That is to say, US refineries “need” Middle Eastern oil much more than US consumers. The price US citizens pay in pollution, corruption, wars, the international arms industry, . . . is all for the benefit of Big Oil. All this continues despite the drop in oil prices and production which began in 2013.

Upcoming Films: TBA

CIRCLE OF POISON – Toxic pesticides, illegal in the US, are still made here for export abroad – They return to us in food

Four Rossmoor organizations – the Vegan Club, Garden Club, Wellness Club, and Sustainable Rossmoor Club – co-sponsor CIRCLE OF POISON.
On Wednesday, October 4th at 7:00 p.m. in Peacock Hall at Gateway, this surprising documentary will reveal a very disturbing practice.
It will show that many pesticides are banned in the United States because they are exceedingly dangerous to human health, animal health, and are extremely harmful to the environment. And yet many of these banned pesticides are still manufactured in 23 states in our country – but only for export.  See film trailer here.
US law allows these harmful pesticides – prohibited here – to be sold around the world to less developed nations where they are used to grow coffee, tea, fruit, and other products. The toxic substances, sprayed on crops, cause enormous devastation.  But ironically, and tragically, these toxic pesticides circulate the globe and come back to the US as residues on imported food. This is the “circle of poison.”
In Mexico’s Yaqui River Valley we see that women working in fields sprayed with pesticides give birth to children with severe illnesses. In Ituzaingo, Argentina, the use of chemicals on soy crops has increased explosively over years. Cancer rates there are reported to be 41 times the national average.
In India, in the town of Kasaragod, cashew farms have been sprayed for decades with the pesticide endosulfan. It has caused deformities in hundreds of children. The heart-wrenching scenes of stunted children is difficult to see.
Chemical pesticides, according to the film, did not exist before World War II. But corporations that had been making poison gases during the war, turned after the war towards the manufacture of pesticides. Today, six large agrochemical companies sell 75 percent of pesticides around the world.
But people are fighting back. Around the world farmers, after witnessing the devastation caused by the use of pesticides, are turning to organic agriculture. The nation of Bhutan in the Himalayas is becoming the first country in the world with a wholly organic agricultural system. In the US, an organic farming industry is emerging rapidly.
The film, narrated by Elizabeth Kucinich and featuring interviews with Jimmy Carter, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Professor Noam Chomsky, Senator Patrick Leahy, and with a beautiful epilogue by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, is incredibly informative and eye-opening.
It was voted the Best Environmental Film at the 2016 San Francisco Frozen Film Festival and has a 100% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
 Rossmoor residents and their guests are invited.

A SEA CHANGE: a film exploring the decline of the world’s oceans

On Wednesday, September 13th at 7 pm in Peacock Hall, Sustainable Rossmoor will show A SEA CHANGE. The film takes the audience on a journey to explore the sources of the declining state of the world’s oceans. A young boy, his grandfather, scientists, and entrepreneurs look at the causes, the results, and possible solutions for ocean acidification, bringing a crucial and little-known issue to the attention of film-goers.
Sven Huseby, a retired educator, connects with his grandson, Elias, through their mutual fascination with underwater mysteries. Sven travels to some of the globe’s most gorgeous locales, trying to thread his way through the science and sociology of the oceans, a journey that takes him to Northern California, Alaska and the farthest reaches of arctic Norway, where his ancestors were born. Fishing was their life. There’s lots of breathtaking footage of the natural world, from the tiniest pteropod (the fluttery, planktonic sea snail that is most threatened by acidification) to the most majestic Norwegian scenery.
Ocean acidification is the result of carbon dioxide combining with water and making carbonic acid. Much of the carbon dioxide released by cars and trucks, and the burning of other fossil fuels dissolves in the sea, thereby fatally changing its chemistry by gradually increasing the water’s acidity — making it a less livable environment for many sea creatures.
“I fell completely in love with Sven and the extraordinarily bright Elias. The people in the film are very real and approachable and the ocean footage is stunning. It’s optimistic with the whole section about solutions at the end. It has a broad appeal for all ages.”
Dr. Cat Dorey, Sustainable Seafood Advisor, Greenpeace International.
“A SEA CHANGE offers a searching, emotionally powerful look at ocean acidification. This problem is sometimes called the ‘evil twin’ of climate change. This story is full of heart, scientifically accurate, and lyrical. It also offers a good reason for hope, which is indispensable in the face of such a huge challenge.”
Brad Warren, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership
 
The feeling that we have stolen something from our children falls heavy on the old, who wonder whether they have done right by themselves, their family, and their society. Sven Huseby feels this deeply as he discovers that his generation has profoundly changed the atmosphere by adding carbon dioxide. We see a thoughtful person who thinks and moves carefully, and never makes you feel sorry for him or the planet. When he asks questions, you feel that you want to help him. Mr. Huseby wants you to test the roots of your idealism, your resolve, and your hope for the future and its children.”
Jeffrey Levinton, Director, Marine Biology Web Page; Distinguished Professor, Stony Brook University
The story that “A SEA CHANGE” tells is urgent, unsettling and desperately in need of understanding and action. All Rossmoor residents and their guests are invited. 90 minutes. Captions.

MERCHANTS OF DOUBT FILM

On Wednesday, August 9th at 7 pm in Peacock Hall, Sustainable Rossmoor will show MERCHANTS OF DOUBT — a satirically comedic and illuminating journey into the heart of American spin. We meet highly charismatic, silver-tongued pundits who present themselves in the media as scientific authorities – yet spread misinformation and confusion about public threats ranging from toxic chemicals such as asbestos, DDT, and nicotine to pharmaceuticals and acid rain, ozone, and global warming. We learn how modern propaganda machines have become very polished.

The film is 93 minutes, with an optional discussion following. All Rossmoor residents and their guests are invited.

It may seem to us in California that Climate Denial has recently come back into vogue. In fact, in many parts of the county, it never when out of style. One focus of the film is the very effective fight waged by Big Oil against the growing amount of scientific evidence for climate change. Those distortions continue today. Money can buy power, and often also minds. The Koch Brothers have spent more than $100 billion directly to 84 groups denying climate change science since 1997.

“Global warming is a hoax perpetrated by alarmists” began James Inhofe in 2003, recent chairman of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works. He has received over 2 million dollars in donations from coal & oil Industry, the top contributor being the Koch brothers. This “hoax” sentence seems to be one the Administration adjudged to be worth repeating: several times by Scott Pruitt, the new Chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, and tweeted by President Trump . . . 115 times. It’s as if this hazardous phrase is habit forming. Many parallels are revealed with the efforts by the tobacco industry.

The filmmakers show us how history is replete with corporate-financed public relations efforts to suppress and blur the facts. We see these skills applied to evidence about fracking and toxic pesticides. They interview scientists, activists and whistle-blowers who expose such activities, as well as some of its repentant perpetrators. We also meet politicians who find that science brings us solutions and hope, such as those who have recently signed the Mayors Climate Agreement, totaling over 360 in the United States.

Trailer:  http://youtu.be/jmwmMUfn7IY

THE GARDEN – a film about the LA’s huge urban community farm

Sustainable Rossmoor and the Rossmoor Vegan Club will once again co-sponsor an outstanding movie. On Wednesday, August 2nd at 7 p.m. in Peacock Hall at Gateway, the two clubs will present “The Garden.”
The Garden has the pulse of verité with the narrative pull of fiction, telling the story of the country’s largest urban farm, backroom deals, land developers, green politics, money, poverty, power, and racial discord. The film explores and exposes the fault lines in American society and raises crucial and challenging questions about liberty, equality, and justice for the poorest and most vulnerable among us.
Director Scott Hamilton Kennedy captured the very souls of the gardeners, and the cinematography is so exquisite we can just about taste the fruit and smell the flowers. The 80 minute long film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary of 2008. It has won more than a dozen international awards. Captions.
All Rossmoor residents and their guests are invited. A raffle will be held before the film. Also, gardeners are encouraged to bring their home-grown produce to swap.
 
Rising from the ashes of the Rodney King riots in 1992, a garden was to appear on the 14 acres of empty lots that the City of Los Angeles turned over to the poor living in the area. But it started as an urban nightmare infested with vermin, tire fires, and toxic waste. Latinos and African-Americans in the neighborhood, with much hard work, created a Garden of Eden: a cornucopia of fruits, vegetables and beautiful flowers. Without using chemicals, the people sowed and harvested produce including corn and eggplant. The garden contained a wide variety of fruit-bearing trees including banana, papaya and avocado.
The garden was both a peaceful retreat and a symbol of hope. It was a revered place in the community — a light in the lives of poor people in inner city Los Angeles. The garden was a great communal success, and earned national attention as America’s largest urban farm.
Kati Lopez with arm-load of fresh corn leaves
But in 2004, the gardeners received a notice to vacate. Someone who claimed title to the land wanted to build warehouses on it and told the gardeners they were being evicted. The land they planted and tended so lovingly was slated to be bulldozed. Their cause became celebrated; Darryl Hanna, Danny Glover, Joan Baez, Martin Sheen, Willie Nelson, Dennis Kucinich and other celebrities stopped by to help. The film depicts their determined fight to prevent this.
DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT, Scott Hamilton Kennedy:
“There are so many reasons I was inspired to pick up my camera and follow this story. The first time I stepped onto the garden at 41st and Alameda, the city of Los Angeles seemed to vanish. Surrounded by varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs, the smell, the air was different immediately. And the people: warm, humble, generous in spirit and with the bounty of their plots. But there was another characteristic to the farmers that is essential to this story: while most had never done anything political before, they found a way to get organized, ask questions, do research, and not give up without a fair assessment of what happened here.
 
So with the threat of bulldozers only weeks away, my journey with The Garden began. At every turn, we were faced with more and more complex questions, like what is the best use of our limited lands, and how do we make sure that all parties are equally represented in that discussion? Do any of us rise to such challenges as ‘Justice for all,’ or are we more often derailed by things like bias, self-interest, greed, and ego? 
 
To me it is both simple and wickedly complex, timeless and timely: a fascinating story about the many layers of America. At a moment when economic insecurity abounds—as rising food prices, energy and environmental crisis confront us at seemingly every turn—The Garden tells an essential story and serves as a powerful symbol of the larger world around us.”
 

SR DVDs on loan at Rossmoor library

The following films were previously chosen or previewed to be shown by Sustainable Rossmoor at Peacock Hall. All of the listed DVDs have been donated to the Rossmoor library and are available there for check out.

Encounters at the End of the World (2007) With a mix awe, humor, and enlightenment, award-winning filmmaker Werner Herzog explores Antarctica with a group of truly unique people who risk their lives to study it. They find a desolate, beautiful landscape, largely untouched by human hands. Based in McMurdo Station, the continent’s largest research center, they endure volatile conditions to learn more about the continent’s wildlife and awe-inspiring natural wonders. http://youtu.be/MImYM87jOtU

The Future of Energy: Lateral Power to the People (2015) follows renewable energy revolution across the United States, and what everyday people are doing to help foster that shift. It’s features a countless number of individuals and communities that are re-imagining their relationship with the planet and with each other – some right here in the Bay Area.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6T2EwQ-KoP4

King Corn (2007) is a feature documentary about two friends competing with modern mono-crop agriculture that uses pesticides, fertilizers, and subsidies to drive our fast-food nation. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1112115/

Last Call at the Oasis (2011) shares a tsunami of information about the world’s water crisis without water-boarding the viewer, and shows solutions beginning to be implemented on both the macro and micro level, and where we can make a difference.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2043900/

Poisoned Waters, Frontline (2009) examines at the problem of water pollution in the United States. It focuses on the worsening conditions in the Puget Sound and Chesapeake Bay and looks at the threat posed by runoff from agriculture and industry.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1389978/

Queen of the Sun: What Are Bees Telling Us (2010) is a beautiful nature film which poetically balances a sense of urgency about the global bee crisis with hope and inspiration. These fuzzy little creatures keep us alive; they are responsible for 4 of every 10 bites of essential foods we eat.  Yet, their own survival is at risk largely due to human activity. The film reveals both the problems and the solutions of renewing a culture in balance with nature. It earned a 97% rating from Rotten Tomatoes critics, and nearly a dozen international awards. With captions.  Trailer: http://youtu.be/ekoeQodrVoM

Racing to Zero, in Pursuit of Zero Waste (2014) is a quick-moving, up-beat documentary that presents new solutions to the global problem of waste. Although waste may create garbage, garbage is in itself a resource, and that is key.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3896114/

Rebels with a Cause (2013) emphasizes the value of open space and provides the David and Goliath origin for one of America’s most visited, and most beautiful, urban national parks – Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2231578/

Salt of the Earth (2014) features the life and breath-taking work of Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado spanning 40 years as he documents deprived societies in hidden corners of the world. He shares his need to return home to heal his soul and reforest his family farm, both of which flourish.   http://youtu.be/OivMlWXtWpY

Symphony of the Soil (2013) is an artistic exploration of our human relationship with soil, the use and misuse of soil in agriculture, deforestation and development, and healthy soil’s key role in ameliorating the most challenging environmental issues of our time.  http://youtu.be/K5QYZ-LRXW4

This Changes Everything (2015) Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis connect the carbon in the air with the economic system that put it there, examining the challenges of climate change and how environmental activists make a difference worldwide.  https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IpuSt_ST4_U&autoplay=1

Trashed (2012) Jeremy Irons travels around the world to see beautiful locations tainted by pollution, exposing problems trash is causing and the stories of people who are learning to make less of it. It reinforces the idea that we can make a change no matter where we live.  http://youtu.be/7UM73CEvwMY

Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story

Sustainable Rossmoor and the Rossmoor Vegan Club are jointly sponsoring Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story on Wednesday, June 7th at 7 p.m. in Peacock Hall at Gateway. It’s won over a dozen international awards.

What does food have to do with Climate Change?
Why would we want to buy cosmetically challenged produce?
How can a person eat healthily in the US for an average of $17/mo without raising it?  And have plenty extra to share?

Join a young film-making couple as they follow the story of food waste on a massive scale to food rescue programs. See some of the 40% of the food grown or raised in the US that is never eaten. For example, suppliers throw out tons and tons of perfectly edible fruits and vegetables – from 20 to 75 percent of a harvest, valued at billions of dollars.

The good-humored couple decide to conduct an experiment to eat only discarded food for six months; their enthusiasm for this treasure hunt is infectious. They bring home more than $20,000 worth of wasted food.

From Variety MagazineWho’d have thought that a documentary about scavenging would serve up so much food porn? In their hugely entertaining “Just Eat It,” Canadian filmmaking couple Grant Baldwin and Jenny Rustemeyer conduct an experiment to eat only discarded food for six months, highlighting an environmental crisis evidently fed by wasteful North American eating habits, but in a cheeky, accessible way. The cornucopia they discover inside dumpsters will leave audiences gobsmacked, and will have them mopping up their dinner plates with renewed vigor. Comparisons with “Super Size Me” are inevitable, and with savvy marketing, the filmmakers may have a small international sleeper on their hands.

A raffle will be held, and “Keep it Fresh” green bags will be available.

Finally, read what Barack has to say . . . Barack Obama on food and climate change
(from a talk given by Barack Obama at the Seeds & Chips Global Food Innovation Summit.)

”Food has not been the focus of climate change discussions as much as it should have been.”

“A part of this is also going to be wasting less food.”

***Can’t make this date to enjoy it on the big screen? The BIG, NEW, HI-DEF screen? Then check out the DVD from our Rossmoor library anytime afterward.  Once shown, Sustainable Rossmoor donates our DVDs to the library.

Queen of the Sun – What Are the Bees Telling Us?

Movie Date and Time: May 10th, 7 PM in Peacock

Queen of the Sun -What Are The Bees Telling Us?

“This is a remarkable documentary that’s also one of the most beautiful nature films I’ve seen” described Roger Ebert. This film poetically balances a sense of urgency about the global bee crisis with hope and inspiration. It earned a 97% rating from Rotten Tomatoes critics, and nearly a dozen international awards.

Filmmaker Taggart Siegel takes us on a journey through the mysterious world of beehives and their catastrophic disappearance. He explores the precarious world of the bees through interviews with beekeepers and global experts, helping unravel the multiple factors behind bee colony collapse. Best-selling author Michael Pollan and Gunther Hauk, beekeeper and founder of the world’s first formal bee sanctuary, are two of the featured authorities playing supportive roles to the film’s lead characters: the bees.

These fuzzy little creatures keep us alive; they are responsible for 4 of every 10 bites of food we eat.  Yet, their own survival is at risk largely due to human activity. Their grace and harmony is daunted by ominous “insect deserts”—fields of mono-crops (such as almonds or soy) that stretch for miles and offer no year-round habitat to sustain the bees. Pesticides, parasites, queen breeding, and genetically modified crops are just a few more of the culprits responsible for the disappearance of the world’s bees. A recent study reveals 1 in 4 native bee species is going extinct.

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2017/bees-03-01-2017.php

Queen of the Sun What Are the Bees Telling Us reveals both the problems and the solutions of renewing a culture in balance with nature. With captions.

Saving The Bay (Part 1)

Movie Date and Time: April 12th, 7 PM in Peacock

Sustainable Rossmoor will show SAVING THE BAY on Wednesday, April 12 at 7 pm in Peacock Hall. The film shares an invaluable lesson about how ordinary citizens can have an impact on protecting and enhancing our natural environment. Spearheaded by three women in the East Bay hills, the story of how the San Francisco Bay was saved is not only compelling in its own right, but launched a movement that continues.

Narrated by Robert Redford, SAVING THE BAY also explores the history of one of America’s greatest natural resources — San Francisco Bay — tracing the Bay from its geologic origins through years of catastrophic exploitation to the restoration efforts of today. This film takes viewers on an unforgettable journey around the waters of San Francisco Bay and the larger northern California watershed from the Sierra Nevada mountains to the Farallon Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

According the the film’s website,  SAVING THE BAY received four regional Emmy awards including for Best Documentary in May, 2010. When the series premiered in two parts on KQED October 8, 2009, it had the single highest rating of any PBS program in the nation the evening of its initial broadcast, with the audience increasing every 15 minutes until the end.

The April 12th showing in Peacock Theatre will feature Part 1 of the original PBS documentary with Part 2 shown at a later date. The film begins with the formation of San Francisco Bay following the last Ice Age and the Native Peoples who settled along its shores 3,000 years ago. It follows the history of  the European exploration and settlements by the Spanish and the Russians. The California gold rush led to San Francisco’s rapid development into a major metropolis  and brought a radical change for the Bay. By century’s end, San Francisco Bay became the center of the broad economic empire on the Pacific, changed forever by the expansion of the commercial shipping industry.

The history of the Bay shows how people-power triumphed, but the struggle continues to balance the competing demands of major urban centers amidst an environmentally sensitive landscape. Captions included. Learn more by visiting the Save the Bay website.

 

Racing To Zero, in Pursuit of Zero Waste

Movie Date and Time: March 8th, 7 PM in Peacock

Shown at the Paris Climate Conference, this quick-moving, up-beat documentary presents new solutions to the global problem of waste. Garbage becomes a financial and environmental resource as the film follows the trail of trash and recycling in San Francisco, looking behind-the-scenes at how zero waste has nearly been achieved by Recology.  Cities all over the United States have instituted zero-waste policies of their own, and it is through these mandates that we are challenged to think differently about not only how we handle our garbage, but what it can become.

RecycleSmart is proud to co-host this film with Sustainable Rossmoor.  RecycleSmart is the agency working toward zero waste locally. They are very close to a residential diversion rate of 75%. The area RecycleSmart wants to focus on improving is getting residential food waste into green carts. Currently, participation rate regionally is very low — estimated to be between 20-30%.

Composting of food waste is being addressed jointly by Sustainable Rossmoor, RecycleSmart, and GRF. Join the discussion at the Sustainable Rossmoor meetings on the first Tuesday of each month in the Fairway Room in Creekside. 

Made with kick-starter funds, this often humorous film has gone on to become an award-winning film festival favorite. Sustainable Rossmoor and RecycleSmart are cosponsoring RACING TO ZERO, IN PURSUIT OF ZERO WASTE; it will screen on Wednesday March 8, at 7 pm in the Peacock Theater.

Movie Trailer

 

Sustainable Rossmoor’s Film Series

Each month we highlight a film that inspires or advocates for environmental causes around the world.  We choose films that educate us about the breadth and depth of sustainability and prompt us to make better choices. For a complete listing of upcoming films read more here.  All movies will be shown in the Peacock Theatre on the second Wednesday of each month at 7pm. English subtitles will be shown whenever available.