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It’s a Wrap! KCET Inaugural Earth Focus Environmental Film Festival

By: Judy Shields

Hollywood, California (The Hollywood Times) 7/31/17 – “What a wonderful way to tell a story to move and inspire people.  That is a film festival using films to teach us about the environment and the issues we need to address.  People need to see these great films here at the film festival and I hope everyone comes out to check them out.” Ed Begely Jr. told The Hollywood Times at KCET’s First Environmental Film Festival at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.

Green Wish Co-Founders Ed Begley Jr. & Raphael Sbarge

Here is the rest of the interview with Ed Begley Jr.

THT: Tell us why you believe it is important to have the launch of the first L.A. Environment Film Festival?


EB: I really believe we need an environmental film festival here in L.A. because so many things are happening environmentally here.  From the choking smog when I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s and it’s not like that anymore, it’s much cleaner air because of the things we wanted to work and has worked. We need a film festival to show how we can clean up the water and air pollution here in L.A.

THT: There are so many environmental issues out there, how do you decide which one to focus on?

EB: Films like these help me to do that.  It’s like a triage in a hospital, you have a patient with a broken arm with a bone sticking out and you start working on that patient, then somebody comes in with full cardiac arrest and you have to move on from patient number one to help patient number two now.  So climate change is a big issue, drought has been a big issue, will we have more rain next season, nobody really knows.  We still have problems with air pollution in L.A., not as much as years ago, but we still have to deal with it.  Water pollution in the Santa Monica Bay, groundwater contamination, big issues, real issues we all have to deal with.

THT: As a Californian, what is your view of what is happening in Washington?


EB: In California, we are in a separate nation, would be the eighth largest economy on the earth, so we have a certain amount of influence in China, Great Britain and Trump isn’t ready to talk to us about climate change, like our govern Jerry Brown is.  We have a good formula here that is working very well and we should be the model for the nation and the world.

KCET Inaugural Earth Focus Environmental Film Festival T-Shirt

The courtyard of The historian Egyptian theatre was the setting for KCET’s Inaugural Earth Focus Environmental Film Festival this past beautiful and sunny Saturday in Hollywood on the famous “Hollywood Blvd.”


It was a free, all-day event open to the public featuring five acclaimed films tackling the most important and relevant global environmental issues.  Partnering closely on the event is the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital (DCEFF), which for over 25 years has been the world’s premier showcase of environmentally themed films.

From 10 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. in the plaza area, many of the sponsors had booths set up for the public to get involved.  Green Wish, a big sponsor in the Environmental Film Festival, had yummy organic snacks.

LA Conservation Corps Booth

Heal the Bay, River La, LA Conservation Corps., KCET

KCET Booth
Heal the Bay

National Park Services, Sierra Club and Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, a unit of the National Park Service, as well as vendors including Hansen’s and Peet’s Coffee were on-hand to explain how their initiatives are helping the planet and how people could help support the environment, they passed out free cans of delicious soda pop and cold brew flavored coffee.

Motev, an environmentally conscious car service, had a Tesla Model X on display to sit in and take a selfie with and shared it and tagged it #MotevLA and #KCETgreen.  The car service was the official “ride” for the celebrities of the Environmental Film Festival.


The Hollywood Times spoke to one of the Sierra Club volunteers:

Steve Wickie told us that he is retired and a volunteer at the Los Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club. They have 45,000 members at the chapter and they have different committees and they work on transportation and he works on climate change, they have water, to conserve water and a great deal of people who look to save open spaces in various areas, like Griffith Park.  A nut shell of what they do.  All run by volunteers.  Go to their website at to sign up to be a volunteer and all that they do.  They offer regional groups to join up for $15 dollars for the year.  They are trying to get the city to go 100% renewable by 2030, so there is quite a bit going on.

Several celebrity environmentalist came out to show their support, like Ed Begley Jr., Raphael Sbarge, Sharon Lawrence, Bethany Joy Lenz, and  Sarain Fox.  Directors of the five films showcased, Marian Zenovich, Ignacio Fernandez, Eli A. Kaufman & Jared P. Scott.

Sarain Fox & Brittany Joy Lenz taking a shelfie on the Red Carpet

Bethany Joy Lenz was on the red carpet and was happy to give The Hollywood Times an interview.  We asked her about what she thought of Al Gore’s sequel movie from Thursday night’s event.  “It was really educational for me and I have to admit I had not seem the first one, and I went back to watch it since I was so enlightened by the second one.  It was shocking and tragic and I was happy that they ended it on a note of hope and positive message to open up doors to get involved and do something to make a difference.”

I just watched the Rise documentaries and was deeply moved by both of the films. The Dakota pipeline.  Native issues have been close to my heart since I was 16 years old and made a visit to the Ford Apache Indian Reservation and my life was forever changed.  It has made me want to get more involved.

THT: How do you think we can get involved?

Bethany Joy Lenz

BJL: That’s a great question.  I think the first thing people can do, it start asking questions, be willing to look outside your own box.  We get comfortable with our own routines and we just don’t want to ask that many questions and you then feel overwhelmed.  I say just start asking questions and do research.  If you go to Sarain’s twitter account and her website, you can find out a lot.  She has a great deal of information about how you can help with indigenous people and what kind of organization in your area are helping with indigenous issues and these are all small things that you can raise your hand and say, ‘is there anything I can do?’ and someone will give you a task.

The first featured movie at 10:30 a.m. was called Water & Power: A California Heist.  The movie was introduced by actor Ed Begley Jr. It was directed by Marina Zenovich.  Ed Begley Jr. thanked KCET for the event and programming. He said “I have been a fan for many years and to have them step up to do this environmental film festival and Link TV for their partnership is great.”  He asked for a big hand for Washington D.C. based environmental film festival.  “The movie is about a film that unfolds like the classic film Chinatown that covers the exploits of water barons that profit from the state’s resources, while every day citizens endured debilitating water crisis.  It’s a fine film that I know you will enjoy thank you all for coming.” Ed Begley Jr. said.

The documentary Water & Power: A California Heist is truly a well-directed film that all Californians should watch. From National Geographic Documentary Films, directed by Emmy® award-winner Zenovich and executive produced by Academy Award® winner Alex Givney and Jigsaw Productions, the film uncovers the ruthless exploits of California’s notorious water barons, who profit off the state’s resources.

Raphael Sbarge Marina Zenovich, Ed Begley Jr., Maryanne Culpepper & Jay Famiglietti

This film should be shown in our school system to introduce the new generation about our water crisis and how to help with it.  I truly learned many things about our water system and those big companies that own our water, which should be our water to own.  Learning about ground water and how it is being depleted is truly a scary thing. I will not be buying anymore California grown (Wonderful) Almonds or Pomegranates after watching this movie.  Google this film to find out about when it will be shown again, and watch it.

After the movie there was Q&A with Director and award-winning filmmaker Marina Zenovich, moderated by Maryanne Culpepper (Executive Director, DCEFF) and Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist (hydrologist) with NASA/JPL, he is a former Professor of earth and science at UC Irvine and he is working on his first book on the worlds disappearing water resources. Marina Zenovich spoke about making this movie and she said people always want answers and it made her nervous because it was very upsetting about things covered in this movie.  Trying to stop the greed around water rights.  She is not an expert on this film she said, but she was thankful for all the experts used in the movie. That was why Jay was invited to be part of the Q&A.  Jay Famiglietti said that he lives in this world and was relieved when this movie was completed and now being shown.  How much water we use to grow our food, especially the groundwater which is what we use for food growth.  It needs to be slowed way down.  He went on to say that if you own the land, you have the rights to the ground water and you can pump and pump and pump, even if is coming from underneath your neighbor’s property.  That is the law and it does not make sense any more, even if in the political world to change it, which I don’t think there is, you are talking about going into court for a very long time, like a century.  We need to use what we have and use it efficiently!

The Hollywood Times asked a question of Jay Famiglietti

THT: In your opinion, what do you think if we were to convert over to a tertiary type water system, how much of an impact would that have, in regards to all of the water that goes down the drain.

JF: I don’t claim to be an expert on that, but I know that there is a large tertiary treatment facility in orange county.  Which does sewage recycling and then they recharge the orange county aqueducts.  I think we will see with more facilities like that will make the water more pure, if you can imagine get the most pure water ever out of sewage, it’s possible.  It is done now at a plant called Groundwater Replenishment System (The Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) has been operating since January 2008. Jointly developed by Orange County Water District (OCWD) and Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) in the US, GWRS is the largest water purification project of its kind in the world.)  We will be seeing more of those around the country, especially in metropolitan cities.

Second & Third movies were RISE: Sacred Water-Standing Rock (Part 1) RISE: Poisoned River.  The movie was introduced by actor/filmmaker Patrick Fabian and Q&A with Viceland’s Rise host Sarain Fox and KCET contributor Chris Clarke.

Sarain Fox Photo: THT

Sacred Water examines the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation’s resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline, the poisoned River follows the Brazil’s Krenak People who are struggling to survive in the wake of a massive toxic spill

Great combination to put these two movies together, both about indigenous people, one from America and the other from Brazil.  But yet they both are fighting for their land and they truly love and live off their land. They don’t take advantage of their land and the history of that land. We can all learn a great deal from these indigenous people.  Two wonderfully made documentary films and Sarain Fox did a great job covering both of these fights.  She was there at both places leaning herself about water issues around the world.  Both indigenous tribes fighting for the rivers where they live, one from a pipeline in North Dakota to a toxin spill into a river of life for a Brazilian tribe.  Sarain said “we are all made of water, we all form in water, in our mother’s womb and I think we need to start thinking about those connections and without water, none of us would survive.”


She talked about Donna, who was running a camp for her tribe to stand up against the pipeline going through their ancestors burial grounds and the river they use daily and the two brothers in Brazil, who she said were the worst farmers ever, but she felt connected to them and they are fighting for recognition and to keep their homeland.  “In order to know what you are fighting for, you have to know what you are going to have to die for.” Sarain Fox said.

The Brazilian Brothers

I learned last year that I was willing to die for my people and I met thousands of people who felt the same and Krenak people were willing to put their life on the line for their people.  I learned what the value of life is.”  Sarain Fox said.

Raphael Sbarge signing an autograph for a fan

The fourth movie Tomorrow was introduced by actor/filmmaker Raphael Sbarge. Raphael Sbarge said that the movie is about taking actions and trying to a make a difference. He was particularly thrilled about presenting the movie Tomorrow because Tomorrow talks about what we can do and how we are inundated with pretty tough news on a regular basis, and sometimes it’s nothing but bad news about the environment.  “I’m a firm believer and passionate advocate of really trying to, not sugar coat things, not make it seem fine when it’s not, because we know there are a lot of challenges.  Trying to encourage people to try and take even small actions, because small actions really do lead up to large changes.”  “The storyteller who are really giving us avenues into worlds that maybe we didn’t know about and then hopefully allowing you, who have seen these movies to go out advocates of these ideas and really find places where you can actually use them and to inspire others, uplift conversations and really spread the word.”  “That’s what I feel is so important and I am so grateful to be part of this.  I love what KCET has done, they are a remarkable local station that is really committed to these values and a compassionate advocate of their city. I would like to thank American Cinematheque for hosting this as this extraordinary theatre that has so much history in it and also KCET Link TV and well the brain child for this, the Washington Environmental Film Festival which has been there for 25 years and they have come to help us start in these first baby steps and here is to the next 25 years for the LA Environmental Film Festival.”  “Not just a film, but the beginning of a movement seeking to encourage local communities around the world to change the way they live for the sake of our planet.”  Without further adieu, please enjoy Tomorrow.”

This movie Tomorrow was the best film in my opinion.  It was truly amazing to see what so many people are doing around the world to make a difference in the communities.  Planting herbs, and food in just about every little open spot that you would never even think to plant something there and how well it is being done (Mary Clear – Incredible Edible, Todmorden.)  Another town making their money (Rob Hopkins – Transition Towns and Totnes pound) so as to keep the money in their own communities, now that one was really fascinating to say the least.  Another story about this amazing school (Kirkkojärvi Comprehensive School of Espoo) and how they teach the kids and the respect for each other and the teachers was so amazing.  I want to send my grandsons there!  Perrine et Charles Hervé-Gruyer (organic farmers) who have come up with the amazing way to grow organic foods by stacking the plant and growing them closer together. Amazing.  I recommend this movie to everyone!  A+ in my book.  Bravo to the 2015 French documentary film makers Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent.  Faced with a future that scientists say is a great cause for concern, the film has the distinction of not giving in to catastrophism. Optimistically, it identifies initiatives that have proven themselves in ten countries around the world: concrete examples of solutions to environmental and social challenges of the twenty-first century, be it agriculture, energy, economy, education and governance.  Initiatives taking place in France (including Réunion), Finland, Denmark, Belgium, India , the United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland, Sweden and Iceland are presented.

There was a Q&A after the movie with Ignacio Fernandez (Dir. Of Strategic Partnerships for Climate Resolve) and Eli A. Kaufman (Creative Director, River La) moderated by Kim Spencer (Link TV Co-Founder)

The fifth movie was called The Age of Consequences which was introduced by actress Sharon Lawrence and a Q&A with Director Jared P. Scott and moderated by Dominic Patten ( Senior Editor).

Maryanne Culpepper, Raphael Sbarge, Jared P. Scott, Sharon Lawrence & Dominic Patten

Sharon Lawrence told the audience that one of the reason that this is exciting to her, not only because she works in the entertainment industry, but she is also on the board of Heal The Bay, and a founding member of Green Wish, two of the groups that have been part of the event today. I am very grateful for the focus that we have been able to bring to the work those groups are doing.”  She was surprised to learn that this was Los Angeles’s first Environmental Film Festival and that it would not be the last!

This documentary film investigates the impact of climate change on increased resource scarcity, migration and conflict through the lens of national security and global stability.

Climate change was talked about in nine phases: 1) Conflict; 2) Instability; 3) Unrest; 4) Capacity; 5) Poverty; 6) Migration; 7) Collapse; 8) Dependences; 9) Adaptation.  It was a tough movie to watch.

KCET Environmental Film Festival 4 wristbands made out of seeds

All in all, KCET did an excellent job on their first Earth Focus Environmental Film Festival and The Hollywood Times was honored to be a part of it and we look forward to next year’s festival.  Thank you KCET for the wonderful and informative films about our environment.