Environmental Themes Prominent at Film Festival

Many of our nation’s waterways are much cleaner than they were 50 years ago thanks, in part, to the Clean Water Act of 1972. Yet today, nearly half of U.S. streams, lakes and underwater aquifers are so polluted that they are not safe for fishing, swimming, or aquatic life, including some in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Learn more about water quality in Maggie Burnette Stogner’s new film “Upstream/DownRiver,” on the opening night of the 2022 Chesapeake Film Festival, September 30 at the Avalon Theatre in Easton.

Two of Maggie’s earlier films, “Unbreathable – The Fight for Healthy Air” and “In the Executioner’s Shadow, “were award winners in past Chesapeake Film Festivals.

Maggie, with more than 30 years of experience in documentary filmmaking, is the Executive Director of the Center for Environmental Filmmaking and a professor of Film and Media Arts at American University. During her nine years at National Geographic, she produced, directed and wrote numerous documentaries, and was senior producer of the award-winning weekly programs “Explorer” and “Ultimate Explorer.” She also has produced immersive media for world-touring cultural exhibitions for National Geographic, the Smithsonian, LucasFilms, and others. Her award-winning work in that arena includes two King Tut exhibitions; The Greeks; Real Pirates; Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures; Indiana Jones and Adventure of Archaeology; and Roads of Arabia.

“UpStream/DownRiver” follows the world premiere of a film by Sandy Cannon-Brown and Dave Harp. “The Search for the Cooper: A River Hidden in Plain View” follows a historic expedition of four teens and their leaders up the Cooper River that runs through Camden, New Jersey. The explorers kayak, hike and bushwhack their way along the 17-mile river to discover its secrets and find its source.

Capping the evening of environmental shorts is a captivating film, “Into the Dark,” by director Michael Snyder. Battling subzero temperatures and 40-foot seas, a team of scientists embark on a perilous winter expedition into the darkest regions of the Arctic. Their mission: to understand how trace amounts of light may be radically altering the mysterious world of the polar night. What they discover has implications for the global climate and the future of the Arctic.

The prevalence of environmental films continues October 3 through October 9 in the virtual Chesapeake Film Festival, which is free to the public. From the three-minute short, “Green Nettle,” from South Africa, to the mesmerizing 90-minute feature from France, “Mediterranean Life Under Siege,” audiences around the world can experience these and other amazing documentaries. “Green Nettle” reveals how local farmers are producing sustainable material from large stinging nettles on the beautiful slopes of Mount Kenya. “Mediterranean Life Under Siege” is about the animals and plants that have survived the growing impact of human activity.

Other environmental films in the virtual festival include a spellbinding short from India, “In Search of the Stars,” which shows the profound relationship between the night skies and the life beneath them. Viewers can challenge themselves with the provocative environmental feature “Trashy: A Zero Waste Film.” Follow director Heather Gustafson over the course of a year as she gives up trash for 365 days. It’s possible!

For more about these and other films, visit chesapeakefilmfestival.com or contact Executive Director, Nancy Tabor, at 443-955-9144.

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