Greentopia's second year finds the sustainability celebration expanding to include a full-blown film festival. Under the care of Linda Moroney, festival director by day and documentarian by night, Greentopia | FILM features four nights of primarily nonfiction films, all focusing on various aspects of the increasingly crucial need for us earthlings to reduce, reuse, recycle, and rethink.
Kicking off Tuesday, September 11, with the "Short Courses" program at Good Luck (50 Anderson Ave.), Greentopia | FILM will go on to present more than a dozen short films and feature-length documentaries at various locations, including Forest Cinema, the Classical Revival building at 35 State Street that's been repurposed for use as a screening venue. Read on for a look at a handful of films, then visit greentopiafestival.com for more information.
You may want to memorize the stunning images in "The Last Reef," because if we don't act quickly, that irreplaceable undersea splendor could become a thing of the past during our lifetimes. Shot in Palau, Vancouver Island, Mexico, The Bahamas, and French Polynesia, the vivid 3D spectacular takes us on a tour of the planet's coral reefs, likening the ecosystems to bustling little cities where different species all find a way to live in harmony with the reef, a living thing in itself. But our storied carelessness with the environment is causing the reefs to vanish five times faster than the rain forests. The good news? They're resilient. Man's job? Get it together already. (Wednesday, September 12, 6 p.m., Tinseltown)
Detroit's reputation as a punchline to jokes about awful places can't mask the serious facts: In the last 80 years Detroit has gone from the world's fastest-growing city to the fastest-shrinking city in America, with the one-time Motor City losing 30 percent of its manufacturing jobs in the past decade. The unfocused but beautifully shot elegy "Detropia" views the decline of Detroit through the eyes of residents fiercely proud of their home but unable to stop the slide. Even Detroit's leadership seems shellshocked as they cut necessary services like bus lines, potentially preventing the city's employed from getting to work. Young people are snapping up discounted space, but the influx may be too late to save this once-great city. (Wednesday, September 12, 6 p.m.; and Thursday, September 13, 8 p.m., Little Theatre)
The scene that unfolds in the absorbing fly-on-the-wall documentary "The Waiting Room" is one that plays out all over the country, as people cool their heels for hours waiting for medical attention. This particular snapshot is in Oakland, where we see a young girl bravely cope with the pain of a throat infection and we watch as a teenage gunshot victim succumbs to his wounds. Yes, it's an emergency department, but these are not always emergencies; "The Waiting Room" is teeming with the uninsured, a largely minority population of those without preventive health care. We also meet the tireless caregivers, their dedication embodied by Cynthia Thompson, a no-nonsense spitfire in pink paisley glasses and durable lipstick. She's a star, and, more importantly, a hero. (Wednesday, September 12, 6:15 p.m., Nazareth; and Friday, September 14, 7 p.m., Little Theatre)
To hear Tony Geraci recount a school-age kid's first encounter with a real peach is less heartbreaking than it is mindblowing. Geraci is the inspiring "Cafeteria Man," the former food superintendent of Baltimore City Schools, where he launched a crusade to revamp the lunch program from pizza and meatloaf to include farm-fresh ingredients, even incorporating an education aspect to show his young clients that real food doesn't come from a factory. And despite what should be a slam-dunk of a mission, Geraci comes up against the usual bureaucratic red tape and naysayers. The children and their parents couldn't be happier; the adults, Geraci admits, are "the hardest part of my job." (Wednesday, September 12, 6:45 p.m.)
The recipient of Greentopia | FILM's first Fork in the Road Award is "Bidder 70," a moving testament to one person's commitment to change. It tells the story of Tim DeChristopher, whose attendance at a 2008 Bureau of Land Management auction ended in a courageous act of civil disobedience in an effort to save a chunk of Utah wilderness from oil exploration. We get to know DeChristopher during a prolonged legal process that saw the auction effectively nullified by the Department of the Interior, and we watch other activists doing their peacefully disruptive part to preserve the environment, in the words of Dr. King, "openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty." (Friday, September 14, 6:45 p.m., Forest Cinema)