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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Blog posting by Erica Moriarty, Documentary Studies and Production '16, FLEFF Blogger, Houston, Texas
Can't make it to Sarah Dupont's discussion of Amazon Gold? No problem! I'm here, live blogging away and bringing you the highlights!
We're over in Williams 202 with a full class! Sarah's trailer of Amazon Gold is great! This film will definitely be one you don't want to miss this Thursday night at Cinemapolis. This beautifully crafted film shows the destruction of the Amazon, particularly Peru, due to illegal gold mining.
Sarah worked in the Amazon Rainforest where the Andes Mountains meets the Amazon Basin to study the unique biodiversity. Here, the gold from the Andes streams down into the Amazon River. Since the price of gold has gone up so much, the area, once rich in biodiversity, is being destroyed.
In order to extract the gold, miners place the water in a barrel with mercury. Sarah described the mercury attaching to the gold as miners place their legs in the barrel to mix the solution. Then, the mercury is burned off the gold, releasing toxic chemicals into the air and leaving workers with mercury poisoning.
Sarah described the difficulty of filming the documentary in such a dangerous place. In making the documentary, she brought along war journalists to be safe. She said, "The war journalists is also a metaphor for war against ourselves and our planet."
She briefly explained the making of the film and engaged the class. "When did you first begin seeing climate change?" she asked.
Students in the classroom described experiences with temperature increases and flooding increases. A small uproar in the class began when one student commented, "There's nothing we can do about climate change. It's still going to change. It's something we have no control over."
Sarah responded, "I've seen a lot of changes over the past five years and it has a lot to do with our consumption. I think there are things we can do to mitigate it. I'm really inspired and hopeful because I think your generation is incredible. I think you have the ability to create change."
After a brief discussion on responsible consumption, Sarah returned to why she created a film. She said, "What's the most important thing I can do to create change, so I thought 'Make a movie!'"
She organized the film beginning by corresponding with a war journalist. She then contacted Sissy Spacek who knew more about production. After three years, the film was finally done. Currently, Sarah is slowly distributing the film through various festivals.
She described the process: "When you start something from a seed, it's never what you think it's going to be. You make all kinds of mistakes, but then one thing leads to the next."
Sarah then showed a short film called 40 Beauty and Destruction that juxtaposes the beauty in the Amazon next to the destruction. The title comes from the idea that the Amazon can be protected for only 40 more years at the current rate of destruction.
After the film, one student asked how we can help as U.S. citizens with policy in another country after our gold trade is what is driving this destruction.
"Be aware as a consumer and your power as a consumer," Sarah answered. She went on to describe the importance of raising awareness of policy that does not allow trade of illegally mined gold. In addition, she described being responsible in what you purchase as well as contacting government representatives.
The conversation turned to the role of the U.S. in the situation and whether or not it is our responsibility to save the Amazon if it is not in our country.
"There needs to be a re-thinking in the interconnections between different parts of the world," Dr. Patricia Zimmermann commented.
The class continued to discuss increased globalization and the ability of countries to regulate each other. The debate only switched at a student's question regarding the toxicology of the rainforest. Sarah responded with the fact that 70 tons of mercury go into the river daily, so there will be a big mess in cleaning the destruction.
Sarah ended the discussion with another short film called 60 seconds. The point of the film was that every minute an acre of the Amazon Rainforest is lost. She also shared her organization called the Amazon Aid Foundation, where people can work to learn, connect and protect the world.
Sarah also shared an important fact: "It takes 250 tons of earth to make a wedding band." This fact is important to keep in mind next time you're finding that special piece for your loved one.
Join us on Thursday at Cinemapolis for the full film! But how about we start the conversation now? How can we create change in the Amazon?