All Week: Environmental Films & Art   |   View in your browser

   Nature as Inspiration
It starts today! The Nature as Inspiration film festival begins this week as an online event, bringing to your home six feature-length documentaries, an amazing collection of shorts, and the first showing of the works from the 2020 Art of Conservation (read more below). All will be available to view at your convenience any time between today and May 27  – so check out the full schedule and then purchase your All Access Pass today!
Akashinga: The Brave Ones, the story of an all-female anti-poaching unit in Zimbabwe, is part of this year's collection of short films.

A Quiet Victory for the Oceans 
     One story of Nature as Inspiration

Every so often, I see a film that haunts me . . . haunting in a good way, leading to thinking, questioning, searching. One of the most powerful of these experiences came back in 2016, following a viewing of Sonic Sea at the annual film festival hosted by the MV Film Society and VCS.

I went in with no expectations. But after seeing that film, I went straight home and googled sonar and whales, learning all about the devastating effects of industrial and military sonar on not just whales, but all aquatic life.

Then I discovered that this film, as affecting as it was, was far more than an exposé of something bad happening somewhere far away: it was also a call to action. In 2016, NOAA was working on an Ocean Noise Strategy Roadmap, a plan to quiet the oceans over the next 10 years. NOAA was seeking public comment over the next month, and it felt good to be able to participate in something so significant.  

Reading the newspaper later that summer I felt a rush of victory: a U.S. Court had barred the Navy from using submarine-hunting sonar throughout much of the world’s oceans. For over a decade, the Navy had been claiming that their use of this form of ultra-loud sonar was safe for marine life, but the Court disagreed. In one important way, the ocean was about to become quieter.

And the story isn’t over. Unfortunately, now there are plans to use deafening underwater air guns for seismic mapping of the ocean floor for gas and oil drilling. Hopefully a positive outcome will be reached on that issue as well, and the more people there are who are informed and motivated, the better our odds. One inspirational film viewed four years ago led this one person to care deeply about a new issue and take action – but I am sure I was not the only one.

I applaud VCS and the MVFS for always putting on a great festival, helping to inform, engage, and inspire our community. This year, I’m looking forward to streaming all seven films at home across the next seven days. The trailers (and the festival's track record) promise yet another excellent program. Thumbs up!

Thank you to Jennifer Blum, VCS vice president, for this contribution. Photo above from Sonic Sea, part of the 2016 festival.

Opening Show: Solace & Insight
     Join us Saturday for the first look at this year's art contest

Every year, one of the highlights of the film festival is the opening show of our high school art contest, the Art of Conservation. As with many other things happening in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, this year will be different. We will truly miss bringing the winners up on stage for their awards, as their works are hanging in the Film Center's Feldman Family Artspace for all to see, but the show must go on! Please help us do our best to honor their hard work and creativity by checking back on Saturday (following tomorrow's judging), when we unveil the winners at both our website and the MV Film Society.

Special thanks to this year's judges, Posey Haeger, Arnie Reisman, and Jack Yuen, and to our wonderful art teachers for helping make the Art of Conservation a reality. Financial support for the contest comes from the Martha's Vineyard Cultural Council. 

Painting: "Yellow Strip" by Annabelle Cutrer, first-place winner of the 2019 Art of Conservation: Connect

Copyright © 2020 Vineyard Conservation Society, All rights reserved.

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