Category Archives: Film Series

DamNation – March SR Film

FILM SERIES: Sustainable Rossmoor
Wednesday, March 11, 7 pm

A look at the benefits of removing obsolete dams.

An audience award winner at the Telluride Film Festival, this powerful film explores the transformation of America’s national attitude of pride in big dams as engineering wonders to the growing awareness that our own future is bound to the life and health of our rivers.

Where obsolete dams come down, rivers bound back to life, giving salmon and other wild fish the right of return to primeval spawning grounds, after decades without access.

DamNation’s majestic cinematography and unexpected discoveries move through rivers and landscapes altered by dams, but also through a metamorphosis in values, from conquest of the natural world to knowing ourselves as part of nature.

87 min. Captions.   Trailer:


February 2020 SR Movie


When:  Wednesday, February 12, 7 pm  

Where: Peacock Hall

Sustainable Rossmoor’s next film will focus on the essential nature of biodiversity and how we can help maintain it.
This film, CALL OF LIFE: FACING THE MASS EXTINCTION, will be immediately followed by two speakers from the Center for a Biological Diversity.

Our Film

CALL OF LIFE investigates the growing threat to earth’s life-support systems from the loss of biodiversity. If current trends continue, scientists warn that half or more of all plant and animal species on Earth will become extinct within the next few decades. Call of Life investigates the scope, the causes, and the predicted effects of this unprecedented loss of life.  It also looks deeper, at the ways both culture and psychology have helped to create and perpetuate the situation. The film not only tells the story of a crisis in nature, but also in human nature, a crisis more complex and threatening than anything human beings have ever faced before.

60 minutes, with captions.


Our Speakers:  Chase Martin and Maureen Forney

Maureen Forney
Chase Martin

will share information about solutions and actions to take, and legal battles that have been successful. Chase has a professional background in Historic Preservation and lobbying.  She worked with the Center for Biological Diversity on last year‘s petition drive to save the Endangered Species Act.  Maureen is a Certified California Naturalist and volunteers with both the Center for Biological Diversity ( and Great Old Broads for Wilderness (

The Center for Biological Diversity

The CBD is an international nonprofit organization. CBD promotes legal actions, global policy advocacy, and scientific studies. CBD’s creative media arm focuses on protecting the lands, waters and climate species need to survive. Working to secure a future for all species of animals and plants, great and small, these advocates want those who come after us to inherit a world where the wild is still alive.

If current trends continue, scientists warn half or more of all plant and animal species on Earth will become extinct within the next few decades. In the words of the famous biologist Paul Ehrlich, “When we wipe out populations and species of other organisms, we’re sawing off the limb we’re sitting on”.

OVERLOAD: America’s Toxic Love Story

January SR Movie:  OVERLOAD: America’s Toxic Love Story

When: Wednesday, January 8, 7 pm,  Where: Peacock Hall

Toxics in Personal Products

OVERLOAD aims to both illuminate the real dangers of toxic chemicals found in everything from food to furniture to face cream. We learn hundreds are now found in every baby born in America. This film offers us as consumers the tools we need to make better choices that will ultimately improve our own health and public health.

Filmmaker Soozie Eastman, daughter of an industrial chemical distributor, consults world-renowned physicians and environmental leaders such as  Center for Environmental Health  founder Michael Green and the  Environmental Working Group’s  Nneka Leiba, and sits down for interviews with scientists and politicians including  NRDC  senior scientist Jennifer Sass and biologist Tyrone Hayes.
She embarks on a journey to find out the levels of toxins in her own body and explores if there is anything she can do to change them. Just as she feared, her blood tests reveal alarming levels of chemicals such as organophosphates and PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), so she undertakes a rigorous detox regimen of dietary changes, exercise and informed product choices designed to manage and minimize her toxic body burden.
She’s determined to find out: Can we hit the reset button, or is it too late?


December SR Movie:


When: Wednesday, December 11, 7 pm.  Where:  Peacock Hall

IDLE THREAT is a look at one man’s spirited struggle to improve public health by raising awareness about the impact of vehicle idling exhaust. His mission: draw attention to legislation making it illegal in New York City to idle a parked car or truck for more than 3 minutes — and put some teeth behind the enforcement of the law.

Idling engines consume more than 6 billion gallons of gasoline annually in the U.S., a significant but little-known contributor to local air pollution, respiratory and other diseases, and global climate change. The fumes contain several GHGs, including nitrous oxide which damages airways, blood vessels, and affects mental function. Other cities and some States have similar laws, but staff time for enforcement is lacking. Below are details about California and the Bay Area.

In a white shirt and tie, Wall Street banker George Pakenham has walked the streets of New York since 2003, courteously confronting over 3,000 drivers to explain idling’s impact and the 1971 NYC law prohibiting running a parked vehicle for more than 3 minutes. He has gained world-wide recognition for the anti-idling cause, with articles featured in the Wall Street Journal, New Yorker magazine, the Financial Times, and on TV. 

He has found that over 70% of drivers will turn off their engines, no matter the weather, after discussion of a card he’s had printed that lists the public health impacts of idling on one side and quotes the law on the other. Those drivers that don’t comply can be subject to a fine that starts at $350 and goes up to $2,000. When documented with photos or videos, he and others are eligible to receive 20% of the fine. He personally has collected more than $10,000 this way and the NYC Department of Environmental Protection now receives over 1,000 documented complaints annually.

65 minutes with SDH captions.


Several US states have some sort of restrictions on both truck and car idling. 

In California, there is a 5 minute idling restriction for diesel trucks or if an idling vehicle is unattended, and a 30 second restriction on commercial vehicles (e.g. buses) parked near schools. Palo Alto passed the most restrictive US law this summer, with a “2 or 3 minute” idling limit on all stationary vehicles (e.g. not in traffic). The UK has the most restrictive idling laws.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has had a campaign for several years, organized by the Spare-the-Air team. They created a cute video and a “toolkit”.  Because the toxic fumes are heavier than air and children are low to the ground, they are more at risk. A few school systems and some merchants with drive-thru lanes have created “idle-free zones”. At Pittsburg and Martinez schools, children volunteer to stand at the curb and enforce posted signs where parents line up their cars. Most Walnut Creek and Lamorinda schools have yet to take action.

The fumes enter through the front of your car if your engine is running and the car in front if you is idling. The gaseous toxins are concentrated more than 10-fold inside your car. Your air filter only works on particulate matter, not these toxic gases. Idling engines burn gasoline much less efficiently than when in motion, upping the hazards. Hybrid vehicles and EVs produce no such pollution, but are vulnerable to cars with internal combustion engines in front.



Wednesday, November 13, 7 pm, in Peacock Hall

Native American Nations’ History

Natives of both North and South America know things about the earth that modern man has ignored. For centuries they have lived in ways that maintain the earth’s bounty and protect it. This connection to the earth affected the way their governments evolved. And it shapes their struggles today.

This 1-hour PBS film “Nature to Nations” explores the rise of great American nations, from dynastic monarchies to participatory democracies. Archaeologists who’ve studied ancient hieroglyphs in the Peruvian Andes and the stories told by totem poles in the Pacific Northwest, reveal the history of Native Americans’ science grown from their connection to the earth, its animals, and the sky.


Immediately following the film, Denise Varner, RN – a descendent of the Muscogee Creek tribe – will draw on her experience as a consultant to bridge Indian communities and surrounding local and state health boards and advisory committees. Now semi-retired, she served many years in Indian Healthcare Programs in CA, OK, MN and ND in primary care, urgent care, trauma and public health nursing roles. She currently facilitates wellness and prevention for Native American urban youth, particularly regarding preserving the identities of urban Indian young women as a means of preventing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

America’s First Democracy

Centering on the democracy of New York’s Haudenosaunee Peoples — also known as the Iroquois Confederacy — “Nature to Nations” reveals how elements of the natural world drive


governance in Native America. The story of Hiawatha and the Peacemaker, as told by native elders, demonstrates how shell helped end war among five tribes and bring about America’s first democracy 500 years before the United States. Ben Franklin and the Founding Fathers would later integrate key ideas from their government into the United States Constitution.

Native American Governmental Systems

Building on these revelations, the episode traces evidence that nations across Native America use beliefs from the natural world to support governmental systems, from dynastic kingdoms to shamanistic rulers. Science and oral tradition reveal how corn, cedar, shell, and the jaguar each inspire new nations and plant the seeds of great empires. All are part of an incredible 3000-year narrative of nature, nations and cultural sophistication in Native America.

Segments from the film:

Lessons from farming (2-minute video):

The history of corn (3-minute video):


“Death by Design” is our film on Oct 9.

This film exposes the extent to which the booming electronics industry damages the environment and impacts public health in many countries where our devices are made and materials are extracted and processed. But, it also helps the viewer make more informed choices and join effective channels of activism.

Consumers love – and live on – their smartphones, tablets and laptops. A cascade of new devices pours endlessly into the market, promising even better communication, non-stop entertainment and instant information.

The numbers are staggering. By 2020, four billion people will have a personal computer. Five billion will own a mobile phone. But this revolution has a dark side, hidden from most consumers.

In an investigation that spans the globe investigates the hidden underbelly of the electronics industry and reveals how even the smallest devices have deadly environmental and health costs.

Searching Electronics Waste pile

From the intensely secretive factories in China, to a ravaged New York community and the high tech corridors of Silicon Valley, the film tells a story of environmental degradation, of health tragedies, and the fast approaching tipping point between consumerism and sustainability.

Some of the film’s heroes are whistleblowers, innovative recyclers, and a small Irish company that builds a fair-trade/sustainable computer.

The 73-minute film has SDH captions and will be followed by an optional discussion.




When: Wednesday, September 11, 7 PM    Location: Peacock Hall

This multiple-award-winning film is a testament to the immense complexity of nature as it follows two dreamers and a dog on an odyssey to bring harmony to both their lives and to farm the land. Emmy-winning wildlife filmmaker John Chester and his wife Molly, a chef, leave their apartment in Santa Monica to discover what restorative farming could do for 200 acres of abused, barren land. Through unflagging perseverance and embracing the opportunity provided by nature’s conflicts, the Chester’s unlock and uncover a bio-diverse design for living that exists far beyond their farm, its seasons, and our wildest imagination.
This film features breathtaking cinematography, a wide variety of animals, and an urgent message to heed Mother Nature’s call. It provides us all a vital blueprint for better living and a healthier planet.
The farm’s residents came to include pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, guinea hens, horses, highland cattle, Emma the pig, and  Maggie the brown swiss dairy cow. The land consists of biodynamic certified avocado and lemon orchards, a vegetable garden, pastures, and over 75 varieties of stone fruit.
The film is 92 minutes. 
It has a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 
No captions
The writer/director, John Chester, is interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR’s FRESH AIR, on May 6, 2019. 13 minutes.
“… the documentary does show that an eco-conscious farm is viable and sustainable, even in the dust bowl of drought-parched California. That the Chesters’ spread is exceptionally picturesque is just a bonus.” 


SR Movie in August: ONCE WAS WATER

When: Wednesday August 14, 7 pm.  Location: Peacock Hall

Las Vegas, in the middle of the Desert, is the driest city in America, yet it leads the United States in sustainable water conservation. The efforts of Las Vegas, in its search for sustainability, have produced promising solutions–technological, political, and financial–providing an on-going global model for any city creating their own sustainable water system.

The filmmaker, Christopher Beaver, will introduce the film and be available for Q&A afterward.


Award-winning filmmaker, Christopher Beaver specializes in environmental films, and focuses on to the human experience of the world around us. He will share his fascination with and knowledge of California’s water systems. His other films on the subject include Treasures of the Greenbelt and San Francisco Bay, Tales of the San Joaquin – A River Journey, and Tulare – The Phantom Lake.



Sustainable Rossmoor showed another of his films in 2017, Racing to Zero: in Pursuit of Zero Waste which won him an Emmy and was broadcast more than 600 times. He also won the Sundance Grand Prize Documentary for his film Dark Circle about nuclear proliferation. Christopher teaches documentary and narrative film production, cinematography, and digital journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.


SR Movie in July:  WOMAN AT WAR

When: Wednesday, July 10 at 7 pm    Location: Peacock Hall

This award-winning 2018 Icelandic thriller is about a seemingly gentle 50-year-old independent woman who leads a double life as a passionate environmental warrior. Its beautiful cinematography includes some playful art-house elements that make it both fun and fascinating. English subtitles, 100 minutes, followed by an optional discussion.


THE BACK-STORY. Our warrior heroine is attempting to shut down an aluminum smelter, or at least discourage further investment and expansion of the aluminum industry in Iceland.  Although Iceland has almost 100% renewable energy (mostly geothermal, some hydro), its pristine environment has been spoiled over recent decades by successive Icelandic governments.  Their continuing emphasis is on the development of heavy industry using the country’s plentiful renewable energy resources to prop up environmentally damaging foreign industries. As a result, this “clean energy” has generated private profits for many companies outside of the country.  Meanwhile the benefits for the local population are, at best, questionable and large areas of unique nature have been lost forever.

American companies have moved 30 energy intensive, highly polluting aluminum smelters to Iceland. There are still 5 such smelters in the US; all are ailing — unable to compete with foreign prices.


May Film: THE TRUE COST (of Fast Fashion)

When: Wednesday, May 8 at 7 pm  Location: Peacock Hall

THE TRUE COST makes an excellent case for examining the Fast Fashion market more closely and adding up what’s really gained and lost. Fast Fashion is a mode of business that requires millions of new products to reach the market each week at incredibly low prices. It has pushed into overdrive an industry that was already guilty of pollution, waste, and worker abuse. It’s not a glamorous scene, but it ends by shining a light on a promising new trend.

Fashion discarded

Scrupulous, Comprehensive Research

Scrupulously researched, this film is one of the most comprehensive documentaries ever made about fashion’s dark side, taking the viewer from the expansive cotton fields of Texas to the showrooms of Paris and London, to the factories in Bangladesh and Southeast Asia where workers are beaten into submission and sometimes killed because they organize for better pay and safe working conditions.

Counter Trends Triggered by FF Excesses

The film also shows examples of modern farmers, designers, and manufacturers who dare to defy global trends and do business on an ethical basis, forgoing cutthroat competition in favor of a more collaborative approach. The film is partially responsible for the burgeoning ethical fashion movement around the world.

An optional discussion follows the film.

92 minutes in duration, with SDH captions.