UCSB’s GreenScreen program is one more step in the film & media studies major’s recent emphasis that links cinema with environmentalism. The four films, more than two quarters in the making, premiered last Saturday evening to a rather passionate audience in Embarcadero Hall.
First up was “Isla Vista: A Fresh Start,” produced by Ryan Burkhard and directed by Javier Solórzano. The short uses the student-assisted creation of the I.V. eatery as a framework for dealing with the I.V. Master Plan. It provides a nice snapshot of the state of Isla Vista over the past two years, and looks cautiously into the future of what may come.
Then came “We’re Trashed,” directed by Becky Oxborrow and produced by Evan Koehne. “We’re Trashed” is an animated film about a young polar bear named Teddy who must contend with our community in the debate over global warming, but more importantly, with the recent fetish-ization of the “green” movement in general. Teddy agrees to help a crazed activist raccoon by lending his image to the local environmental movement. Eventually, Teddy’s face is used on products ranging from beer, granola bars and (gulp!) recyclable condoms. The use of garbage found on an I.V. beach is quite stunning when re-contextualized as sets and characters. Maybe if the crew waited until after Floatopia, it could have turned “We’re Trashed” into a feature-length film!
“Mira Verde: What Now?,” directed by Rebecca Bozzo, takes a B-movie noir approach in dealing with the overabundance of red cups in the small beachside college town of Mira Verde (a not-so-thinly-veiled pseudonym for Isla Vista). There is a professor who moonlights as a hardboiled professor and unlucky locals who are swallowed up by a mysterious creature, but the conspiracy runs much deeper. The method for showing how the students get attacked is extremely funny and low-fi. Overall, “Mira Verde” wraps up the mystery a little too quickly and the Sarah Palin jokes fall completely dead in the water, but it’s a fun film that never takes itself too seriously.
The final film, “How To Survive Domoic Acid,” directed by Michael Short and produced by Michael Wootress, combines shots mimicking the style of a ’50s-style public service announcement (on real 16-mm film, too!) with documentary footage of real-life scientists and a local fisherman talking about a deadly neurotoxin that has infected many shellfish and other sea creatures in Santa Barbara and other parts of the world.
The PSA segments are pretty darn funny, and the leads, first-year theater major Trevor Wade and senior BFA student Bryan Forrest, seem to be having a blast as a nerdy teen and a red-algae-knowledge-touting greaser, respectively. The documentary bits, however, seemed a bit thrown in – the two halves never seemed to gel together. Still, it’s worth watching for the PSA bits… plus, one of the scientists is hot.
All the films of the night shared a level of self-awareness about “raising awareness,” and although they are mere cogs in the wheels of the green movement, at least they know it and are taking steps to make us look deeper at what we are doing to our planet and hopefully, what we can do to save it.