2018 GNG Green Earth Environmental Film Festival

This past weekend, CURes co-hosted the sixth annual GNG Green Earth Film Festival alongside The Gottlieb Native Garden (GNG) and LMU’s School of Film and Television (SFTV). The event was held at LMU’s new Playa Vista campus, the ideal location to showcase inspiring environmental films.

As summarized by Dr. Eric Strauss (LMU Presidents Professor of Biology, Executive Director of CUREs) – the Festival is “a great opportunity to bring together a community of filmmakers and stakeholders to better explain and understand this complex relationship we have with the natural world. The Festival was a laboratory for the School of Film and Television and the Center for Urban Resilience to work together with support from the Gottlieb foundation.”

Day 2 panelists and Festival staff. From left to right: Lisa Fimiani (CURes), Jared Nigro (GNG, SFTV), Beth Pratt (National Wildlife Foundation), Dr. Eric Strauss (CURes), David Bard (Annenberg PetSpace)

The Festival included 13 short and 9 feature length films focused on three main themes – the Resilient City, the Human-Animal Bond, and Biodiversity. There were also panel discussions featuring:

  • Akash K. Patel, the Corporate Lead of the Mayumi Hotel in Culver City, who shared information on his hotel and strategies for urban sustainability.
  • David Bard, Education Program Coordinator at the Wallis Annenberg PetSpace, who discussed the important role pets play in our lives.
  • Beth Pratt, the Regional Executive Director at the California Regional Center for the National Wildlife Federation, who presented information on P-22, LA’s most beloved mountain lion. Pratt also shared her expertise on urban wildlife issues.
  • Dave Weeshoff, the Conservation Chair and Classroom Educator for San Fernando Audubon Society, a Speakers Bureau Volunteer for Heal the Bay, and a Volunteer and Educator for International Bird Rescue, who discussed the important role birds play in urban ecosystems.

    Belinda Brunelle (left, CURes Senior Administrator) and Jared Nigro (right, GNG, SFTV)

“It’s been an honor to curate this festival for the 3rd year in a row. This year was a delight in particular because we had 22 films that created the perfect environmental conversation with our audience. Many diverse perspectives and filmmaking approaches made it our strongest year yet.” – Jared Nigro (GNG Film Festival Curator, SFTV)

Over the three days, approximately 70 guests attended the Festival, with many viewing films all three days. CURes was excited to engage with Playa Vista residents, as well as individuals from around the greater LA area.

Directors and representatives for the winning films. From left to right: representative for Locked, Dr. Eric Strauss, Director of Floyd, representative for Toxic Puzzle, representative for White Wolves, Greg Ruzzin

Awards went to the following films:

  • Audience AwardFloyd Directed by Noah Cutwright
  • GNG Environmental Award Toxic Puzzle Directed by Gonzalo Rimoldi
  • Best Short Locked Directed by Daneeta Loretta Jackson & Patrick Jackson
  • Best Feature White Wolves – Ghosts of the Arctic Directed by Oliver Goetzl

Gregory Ruzzin (Special Assistant to the Dean for Playa Vista, Director/Producer: www.themagicchair.org, Associate Professor in Film and Television Production), is thrilled to have used the new venue for SFTV to showcase films and festivals like these. Ruzzin, who spent the last two years collaborating with LMU leaders on the buildout and programming of the new campus said, “The School of Film and Television is excited to be able to partner with the Center of Urban Resilience to provide cutting edge environmental film festivals showcasing films like Locked.” You can learn more about Locked here.

Timothy O’Neill (left) and Greg Ruzzin (right) at the new LMU Playa Vista campus.

“Film has the ability to take big issues such as the environment and present them in an intimate and relatable way using the power of visual storytelling. To imagine life in the Arctic is almost impossible – it seems like a vast wasteland at first glance. But Oliver Goetzl’s White Wolves – Ghosts of the Arctic shows a vibrant and brutal population of animal life that is as riveting as a Shakespearean drama. We see the day to day life of the white wolves is a struggle that we can’t help but sympathize and empathize. Their experience becomes something we can actually feel by bringing is up close to the remote and brutal landscape.” – Timothy O’Neill (Academic Affairs Associate SFTV)

Dr. Eric Strauss and Dave Weeshoff (International Bird Rescue) discussing the feature film Fish Owl Wanted.

“The Film Festival highlighted issues that need attention in the world of today if we are to keep our planet healthy. I especially enjoyed the panel discussions led by Eric Strauss, who invited our guests to share their expertise on subjects ranging from hip green hotels in the second largest city in the US to critical water systems in one of the most important ports in America, to Owls surviving in the vastness of Siberia. It really hit home for me how intimately connected we are to our earth, and how film festivals like these empower participants with the knowledge they need to find solutions and meet the challenges we face at the urban interfaces between man and nature.” – Lisa Fimiani (CURes Gottlieb Environmental Leadership Fellow)

Lisa Fimiani shares “The Gottlieb Native Garden” book with the audience.

CURes would also like to thank the GNG for generously funding this event. We look forward to next year’s Festival and all the opportunities it holds!

DeLisa Madere (left) and Nicole Infantino (right), LMU CURes research students advertising for the Festival.  
Oscar Repreza (LMU CURes research student) advertising for the Festival on Friday night.