Reaching Beyond the Choir

Posted by Trish Riley, March 18, 2013

CV 2013 square eco-pby Sally Ince

With eyes fixated on the large screen in front of them viewers saw the good, the bad and the ugly.

Each night for six nights Cinema Verde, an environmental film and arts festival, focused on a specific sustainable topic. The event focused on energy, animals, sustainable business and government, nature, water and even held a local food night potluck.

The event was created four years ago after Trish Riley, the founding director of Cinema Verde, attended a conference in San Francisco where she was impressed by the variety of environmental films showing at area theaters. She considers herself an informer determined to bring awareness to the Gainesville community.

“If people don’t understand the problems they’re not going to decide to protect the environment,” Riley said.

Cinema Verde encourages locals to come together to not only learn how to become more sustainable in their own lives but to become proactive consumers to get the message across to the leaders at facilities and corporations that are damaging the environment.

“I want them to recognize the problem and have the integrity to address it,” Riley said. “That is the only way we can make any change.”

Participants are offered more than 30 films, refreshments, eco tours, a fashion show, an eco fair and discussions with special guests who have dedicated their lives to helping the planet. Riley wants to appeal to a diverse audience with a wide variety of activities.

“It’s a movement we’re just starting,” said Jill Heinerth, director of the movie “We Are Water,” featured at the event Thursday. “This film is really just phase one but I look at this as sort of our life’s mission but the most important work that we can do for the rest of our lives.”

In Heinerth’s movie she goes to the depths of cave diving to show how pollution on land affects water from fresh water streams to underwater caves. Heinerth said she tries to reach people about water conservation in different ways.

Without permission Heinerth and her team do guerilla presentations. They broadcast on the side of buildings in the middle of inner cities to teach children that don’t have access to springs and fresh water. Heinerth has also created teacher resources for students to see the film in class.

“We’re trying to think of as many different ways to get the information out as possible and we’re trying to figure out ways to reach people that aren’t familiar with the issues,” Heinerth said.

It’s the same modus operandi applied by Cinema Verde to spread the word beyond the choir. Riley invites attendees to bring along a friend or two who aren’t familiar with environmental issues. “By sharing this information with our friends and asking them to pass it along, we’re branching the information out just like a tree, one person, one step at a time.”