Arts & Events

The SF Green Film Festival Comes to Berkeley May 30 - June 5, 2013

By Gar Smith
Monday June 03, 2013 - 02:36:00 PM
Mark Rufallo in Dear Gov. Cuomo
Mark Rufallo in Dear Gov. Cuomo

The 2013 San Francisco Green Film Festival includes 50 films from around the globe, with over 70 visiting filmmakers and guest speakers covering environmental topics surrounding clean energy, green chemistry, food, housing, trash, water, and art in the environment. The festival (which includes a week of special events, discussion panels, workshops and educational programs) takes place Thursday, May 30 through Wednesday, June 5, 2013 ending appropriately on United Nation’s World Environment Day. 

The festival’s main venue and headquarters is New People Cinema in Japantown. Other Festival Venues Include: Goldman Theater at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, Koret Auditorium at the San Francisco Public Library Main Branch, Superfrog Gallery in Japantown, SPUR Urban Center, and the Union Bank Community Room

Tickets are $12 per screening, $100 for a weekend pass, or $200 for a full pass to the festival’s over 50 films and events. 

Rebels With A Cause, from acclaimed Bay Area filmmakers Nancy Kelly and Kenji Yamamoto, opens the Festival on Thursday, May 30. The compelling documentary celebrates the inspiring story of people from all walks of life who fought to save the Marin County coast from developers. 

Bidder 70 recounts an extraordinary act of civil disobedience on the part of Utah native Tim DeChristopher who placed a series of bogus bids on Utah lands being offered for sale. His monkey-wrenching threw a controversial federal oil-and-gas auction into turmoil. In response, the government threw DeCristopher into prison. After serving 21 months, he was released last month, on April 21, 2013. DeChristopher will join filmmakers Beth and George Gage at the SFGFF screening. 

Dear Governor Cuomo follows Mark Ruffalo, Melissa Leo, Joan Osborne and others as they commit daring acts of ‘fracktivism’ in a campaign to ban fracking in New York State. Director Jon Bowermaster will be on hand. 

Tiny – A Story About Living Small, is a film about families living in homes smaller than a parking space and one couple’s attempts to build a similarly scaled house for themselves. 

More Than Honey offers a dazzling look at honeybee colonies – and the threats to their continued survival -- from Academy-Award nominated director Markus Imhoof. 

The festival ends on June 5, UN World Environment Day, with the SF Premiere of Andrew Garrison’s Trash Dance

Something Special for the Kids 

On Tuesday noon, June 4, the SFGFF will host a free educational event focused on ocean protection and the threats of plastic pollution to animals and humans. Location: The Koret Auditorium in the SF Public Library's Main Branch (100 Larkin St., San Francisco near the Civic Center BART). 

For more information, contact: Ninth Street Independent Film Center, 145 9th Street, Suite 220, San Francisco, CA 94103. (415) 742-1394.

Rebels with a Cause:  

Reviewed by Gar Smith 

You cannot conserve the waters and waste the ranges; you cannot build the forest and mine the farm. The land is one organism. 

-- Aldo Leopold 

The Third Annual SF Green Film Festival opens on May 30 with a perfect selection. Rebels with a Cause, by Bay Area director Nancy Kelly, celebrates the grassroots movement that "stood in the way of progress" and, in the process, kickstarted the modern land-preservation movement and created the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. 

Between 1950s and 1970s, major construction developments were turning America's "empty" landscapes into new towns, cities and suburbs. The same fate awaited the untouched lands in Marin Country, north of San Francisco. Today, however, these remarkable vistas of hills, lakes, and ocean remain unspoiled, preserved and accessible as public open space -- a priceless gift to future generations. The film, Rebels with a Cause, answers the question: "How did they do it?" 

The fact that Bay Area activists – against all odds – were able to create a 100,000-acre National Park near the heart of a major US city, inspired a national movement to preserve and enjoy urban open spaces. 

It was US Representative Clem Miller who introduced the first legislation to protect the open space in 1958. Tragically, less than a month after President John Kennedy signed the bill, Clem died in a plane crash. (His body now rests in a grave overlooking Drakes Bay.) And soon thereafter, JFK was dead, killed by an assassin's bullet. 

Nixon's election brought the Vietnam War. In order to pay for it, Nixon pulled the plug on the National Parks Service budget, cancelling the authorization approved to create Bay Area parklands. Land costs, like the war, also escalated. The estimated value of the threatened land soared from $14 million to $57 million. With much of the vast coastal acreage in private hands, long-established owners and ranchers realized they could retire in style -- by subdividing the land and selling out to developers. 

The Bay Area's half-realized park plan came to resemble the disconnected patchwork of Occupied Palestine. Much of the land purchased for public enjoyment could not be reached without trespassing over private land. 

Activists started a Save Our Seashores Petition to save Point Reyes coastlands. Powered by the burgeoning environmental movement, the bulldozers were turned back and legislation was passed that approved not only Point Reyes but 13 other National Seashore Parks. 

A new threat soon arrived. The Battle of Bolinas Lagoon pitted local activists against developers who planned to saturate the quiet lagoon with marinas, hotels and a conglomeration of commercial enterprises. The marina development was torpedoed by an ingenious political maneuver that became known as "the Kent Island Conservation Coup." 

The next threat on the horizon was Marincello -- a European-style, forested village to be built on 2,100 acres overlooking the Marin coast. The plan called for construction homes, offices, recreational facilities and schools for a city of 21,000 residents. Marincello was part of a developers' dream that envisioned constructing 1.2 million buildings along a new freeway that would plow through the heart of Marin. Had this happened, the peninsula north of the Golden Gate would have looked like the peninsula below San Francisco. When Gulf Oil partnered on the plan, it looked like a done deal. But, once again, local preservationists prevailed. 

Eventually, eight coastal forts were removed from Pentagon control and handed over to the public, creating a necklace of regional parks that became central to securing the Golden Gate National Recreation Area -- a unified stretch of land running from SF's Fort Miley to the Point Reyes National Seashore. A campaign that began with a goal of saving 12.5 acres eventually lead to the preservation of 85,000 acres creating a stretch of untrammeled open space 85 mile long. 

Add to that the preservation genius of the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT), which protected open space by preserving existing farm and livestock holdings. MALT nearly doubled the amount of land saved from urban sprawl. Instead of tract homes, its tractors, the land is now guarded by cows and organic farms. today, 90 percent of Marin's land is protected from development. Today (as one of the activists observes in the film), Marin County remains "the lungs of the Bay Area." 

Rebels With a Cause allows viewers to share the recollections of the men and women who made environmental history many years ago. The film includes interviews with Huey Johnson (Trust for Public Land; the Resources Renewal Institute), Amy Meyer (People for a GGNRA) and the Sierra Club's Ed Wayburn -- who praises Rep. Phil Burton's political legwork, which was key to making this all happen. Burton was not a tree-hugger. He proudly insisted that he only time he went outdoors was "to smoke a cigarette." Despite this, he became one of the great political champions for wilderness preservation. 

What about fact people can't afford to live in Marin because of increased land prices? Giacometti simply smiles and insists he made the right decision. Today, he says, Marin County remains "the lungs of the Bay Area." 

"Nobody remembers you, nobody remembers the struggle," Huey Johnson reminisces. "They just know it's there. It's just a great joy to have it happen in our lifetime."