Alice Day is a DCEFF Advisory Council Member. She is a board member of Council for a Livable World and member of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. She is the retired Chair of the Woman’s National Democratic Club’s Environment and Energy task force. She was Director of the Successful Aging Project for the Australian Commonwealth Government, a Resident Scholar at the Rockefeller Study and Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy and a Hofstee Fellow at the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute, The Hague. She received her BA from Smith College, her MA in sociology from Columbia University, and her PhD, also in sociology, from the Australian National University. Her numerous publications include a book co-authored with her husband, Lincoln H. Day. Alice and her husband produced a feature length film called Scarred Lands and Wounded Lives, The Environmental Footprint of War which premiered at the 2008 Festival. They have produced five 4-to-6 minute long short films, clips of unused material from from the longer Scarred Lands documentary film. These clips and the full length film can now be viewed on the Facebook page they have launched entitled, Scarred Lands & Wounded Lives.
Over the 24 years of its life in D.C., the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital has become increasingly focused on the impact of its films on viewers. The big question posed on the 2016 Audience Survey that the Festival volunteers passed out at each screening was: What impact did today’s program have on you?
No longer is it enough merely to come along and watch the films for entertainment or education. The Festival organizers want to know whether you were moved by the film. Did it change your views? What are you going to do about it?
These questions are increasingly telling at a time when the threat of global warming is rising and public action is essential if climate change is to be contained.
What happened, March 26, at the final screening of the 2-week festival provides some answers to the kind of program that nourishes advocacy. At the end of the film, the sell-out audience was dancing in the aisles and on the stage, shouting out in unison a verbal pledge to take radical action to save our earth from the disasters of climate change.
There is no doubt that this rousing response was precipitated by the presence of Oscar-award winning filmmaker Josh Fox (Gasland), an ardent anti-fracking icon and recipient of the Festival’s 2016 Documentary Award for Environmental Advocacy. Fox introduced his powerful new film, How to Let Go of the World (And Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change), which exudes a passion for protecting the planet against further desecration from the exploration and extraction of fossil fuels.
In this new film, he personally dominates the action, taking the viewer on a wild ride alternating between despair and hope: on the one hand, despair over the damage already caused by the devastating human footprint, (e.g., towering storms, such as Sandy, wreaking death and destruction; massive oil leaks in the Gulf and the Amazon Forest; health-destroying air pollution in Chinese cities), and, on the other hand, hope that communities relying on the strength of love and collaborative action can save what is most important to their families and cultures.
Whether the audience’s fierce reaction to Fox’s film will translate into real efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions is essentially unknowable. But it is clear that Fox understands his power. His candor about the threat we face from climate change, his sense of urgency about the need to confront that threat, his compassion for the people whose lives and personal spaces are being destroyed, and his abandonment to dance as an expression of hope–both in the film and on stage–aroused the spirit of advocacy in all of us who were there.