160+ Eco-Films Featured at This Year's Environmental Film Festival
I had the chance last week to interview Stephanie Flack, executive director of the Environmental Film Festival. The festival runs from March 17-29 in Washington, DC. Now in its 23rd year, it’s the nation’s largest and longest-running environmental film festival, which will screen more than 160 films on a wide range of environmental issues, and 96 of those films will either be DC, U.S. or world premieres.
Q. Is there a theme for the 2015 Festival?
A. Our theme for around one-quarter of our 160+ films this year is “Climate Connections,” exploring the impact of climate change on our world. Two of our films highlighting this subject are “Ice & Sky,” Oscar-winning filmmaker Luc Jacquet’s work-in-progress about French glaciologist Claude Lorius’ 60-year study of climate change in glaciers and “Penguin Counters,” examining how penguins in Antarctica are coping with their changing climate—and the implications for humans. We are also presenting a panel discussion with The Climate Reality Project, “Climate Connections: Filmmakers as Catalysts for Change,” considering how storytelling and film can effectively address the climate crisis and a special evening of film and discussion celebrating Earth Hour with World Wildlife Fund.
Q. Why is it important to keep offering this event in Washington, DC?
A. Washington, DC, our national capital, is an ideal place to present the Environmental Film Festival because it has perhaps the greatest concentration of national and global decision makers and thought leaders in the world. It also has experts on many of the topics featured in the films we show. By presenting our films here, we can reach people in government, NGOs and a wide variety of other organizations who shape national and global environmental policy. I think it’s more important than ever to keep doing the festival as environmental challenges intensify in severity and scope, and documentary films illuminate these vital topics. Our focus on climate change is especially timely this year, shining a light on the global climate imperative prior to the Paris United Nations Climate Conference in December.
Q. Orion's current issue has a special section on Cuba, so I was glad to see the festival's own focus on the island nation. What will the Cuba program tackle?
A. In our program, “Frozen in Time: Cuba’s Pristine Coral Reefs and Their Future After the Embargo,” marine biologist Dr. David E. Guggenheim, who visits Cuba often, will explore its vibrant coral reefs and consider the impact that lifting the U.S. embargo could have on the country’s environment. Guggenheim will also show clips of healthy coral reefs in Cuba’s National Park, Gardens of the Queen and from the film, “Cuba: The Accidental Eden,” showcasing Cuba’s virtually untouched wild landscapes. He will discuss lessons the rest of the world can learn from Cuba’s protection of its environment.
Q. What life experiences prepared you to run this massive, independent arts event? I know you love film since you’ve watched the AFI top 100.
A. The festival truly is a massive and impressive undertaking. I’ve attended it casually as an audience member for 20 years, and appreciated the films and discussions without a full understanding of the incredible work and organization that went into identifying, selecting and securing the films—not to mention coordinating with the 55+ venue partners and many more collaborating partner organizations that help to host and present the festival.
I worked in conservation for 20 years before moving to the festival. During those years, I managed large teams from my organization and partner organization to meet shared objectives—in many cases, teams over whom I had no direct authority—so I had to define and help steer the teams towards meeting shared objectives. One of these collaborative, multi-partner projects won an award from the Department of Interior as a great example of a public-private partnership. Plus, I am a mother of three children ages 10 and younger, so I have some experience keeping a bunch of balls in the air.
And to answer your second question: the AFI Top 100 is a list of the Top 100 films of the first 100 years of moviemaking. The list was determined by the American Film Institute from a poll of more than 1,500 artists and leaders in the film industry who chose from a list of 400 nominated movies. I have always loved film, it has been my interest and hobby beyond my professional focus throughout my career in conservation, so the Environmental Film Festival has been a perfect marrying up of my professional and formerly personal interests.
Q. What are you most looking forward to at this year's festival?
A. This year, I am most looking forward to our opening night festival kick-off with “Bikes vs Cars” on March 17; our closing night and Advocacy Award screening presentation of “Racing Extinction” on March 29; and our three other award evenings: presenting the Eric Moe Sustainability Film Award for a short film in sustainability to “Silent River;” screening George Butler’s new film “Tiger Tiger,” which will win our new William W. Warner Beautiful Swimmers Award for a film reflecting a spirit of reverence for nature; and showing Sturla Gunnarsson’s new film “Monsoon,” which will win our Polly Krakora Award for Artistry in Film. In addition, we have two great Saturday nights lined up: Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Secret Ocean 3D on March 21 at the National Museum of Natural History, and the new film “Planetary” in association with the annual celebration of Earth Hour with World Wildlife Fund on March 28 at the National Geographic Society.
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By Daisy Simmons
1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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