Oscar-nominated filmmaker Mark Kitchell’s environmental documentary “A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet” will prescreen on May 7 at 7 p.m. in the Marjorie Luke Theater at Santa Barbara Junior High School.
The film follows five different stories of green activists and conservationists throughout the envi- ronmental movement’s history. Kitchell, who spent 11 years fundraising and editing the movie, first premiered the film at the Sundance Film Festival.
According to Kitchell, the motion picture illus- trates the gravity and history of the green move- ment.
“After my Berkeley film I tried various other things, but really settled in on the environmental movements,” Kitchell said. “I saw the opportunity. Nobody had done the big picture history of the movement. You could say it is the biggest movement the world has ever really seen, but it’s all in dif- ferent pieces, really not connected. I thought thatthe movement needed a film that would really bring it all together.”
Kitchell said biologist Edward O. Wilson helped guide the film’s develop- ment into a one-part, streamlined film.
“I give credit to E. O. Wilson. He’s a famous biologist; he even coined the word ‘biodiversity,’” Kitchell said. “He’s written great books and theories, and so he was an advisor to the project. He said to me that nobody is going to fund a six-part series and no one is going to watch it — that I needed to simplify and condense. So we picked the five most important and dramatic events and people for the film.”
“A Fierce Green Fire” features David Brower and the Grand Canyon, Lois Gibbs and the Love Canal, Chico Mendes and the Amazon and Bill McKibben on climate change. The film’s fifth seg- ment documents activist Paul Watson’s and Greenpeace members’ dangerous attempts to protect the lives of marine animals such as whales and seals.
According to UCSB alumna and local screening coordinator Lois Phillips, the film’s documentation of protestors’ efforts will educate and inspire viewers.
“I think it’s difficult to truly under- stand the courage that these protestors demonstrate, the anguish they experi- ence and the courage displayed in stand- ing up to the establishments of not only the U.S. government but the industrial polluters as well,” Phillips said. “It puts a human face on their struggle, their tenacity; they would really just not give up.”
Phillips said certain scenes depict the passion and anguish forcing the advo- cates into action.
“The Greenpeace activists getting in between the whales and the Russian harpoonists will just make your hair stand straight up,” Phillips said. “They were going to get a harpoon through their heads, but they stayed on the boat to protect the whales. A lot of them look like hippies, but that’s too simplistic; you have homemakers living near upstate New York in the Love Canal case, where pollution caused terrible birth defects. You have to see them screaming at Congress — women in the ‘60s and ‘50s did not behave in this way. You see people galvanized by the horrible effects of the pollution.”
The film is receiving additional edits as well as narrations from Robert Redford.
According to Kitchell, the film’s final completion date is scheduled for June.
“We’re hoping to raise money out of this screening that will be a part of the $50,000 we have to raise by June 1,” Kitchell said. “We’re building for a broad theatrical and non-theatrical release in the fall. We’re also expecting to come play the UCSB campus as soon as we get this film done.”
Admission for the prescreening is $10 for students/seniors and $20 for general admission. Attendees can make donations at the screening or through the film’s website at http://www.afierce- greenfire.com.