, Newburyport, MA

April 18, 2013

Sparking a change

Earth Port organizers hope films motivate, prompt action

By Jim Sullivan

---- — If the goal of the second annual Earth Port Film Festival is to inspire change, then it is going to have to live up to last year’s event that literally changed the Newburyport landscape.

The festival, a fundraiser for PortMedia in partnership with Transition Newburyport, will feature a collection of 14 short films (20 minutes or less each) that organizers hope will bring attention to the pressing environmental issues of the day.

Last year’s festival featured a film, “Stellwagen Sweep,” that highlighted efforts to recycle abandoned fishing debris in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

Newburyport Recycling coordinator Molly Ettenborough saw the film and was moved to acquire a dumpster for doing just that on the Newburyport waterfront, making for a tangible legacy of the first Earth Port festival.

“That exceeded my expectations,” festival organizer Elizabeth Marcus said. “The goal of the film festival is to raise people’s awareness of all these different issues that these films are about. And hopefully to inspire and to motivate them by seeing what other people are doing.”

“It was so inspiring,” agreed Port Media executive director, Sarah Hayden. “I just couldn’t believe it. There was such an outpouring of support.”

Following the success of the first festival, Marcus and Hayden are aiming to exceed expectations at the this year’s festival at the Firehouse Center for the Arts on Sunday.

Filmmaker Vinit Parmar will be on hand to discuss his film, “Quest for Energy,” and Rubbish to Runway will show off their re-fashions, or attire made solely from recycled materials.

“We have a great group of films,” Marcus said of this year’s lineup. “A lot of variety (and) the films are suitable for all ages. The whole family can come to this and enjoy it and learn something.”

This year’s Earth Port theme will be “The Faces of Climate Change.”

“Many of our films this year are focused on people who are directly involved in addressing one aspect or another of climate change,” Marcus said. “Many of the films are about people who are taking action in other countries. There is a man in China who is monitoring the industrial discharge of toxins in the air and in the water.

“There is a young woman from Massachusetts, actually, who is involved in a movement called The Witness Project, where young people have filed suit against their governments, whether it be state or national, saying that they have a right to clean air and clean water,” she added. “My hope would be, that in seeing how other people are engaged, it might spark in someone the desire to be engaged or to learn more (themselves).”

A pre-show reception will be held at 6 p.m. and the films will begin at 7. Numerous local environmentally conscious companies will participate.

“What we hope to accomplish is to have people become more aware of the issues around climate change,” Hayden said. “We have a film from Fiji (this year) and we’ve had films from Canada (in the past). When you do see these pieces from all over the world, it does bring some recognition to the fact that maybe there is something global going on here.”