Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 2
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011
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Environmental Film Festival Returns to Library With Oscar Nominees, Distinguished Speakers

Dilshanie Perera

Poised to inspire, the Princeton Environmental Film Festival kicks off its 11-day run this Thursday, January 13, at 4:30 with Living Downstream, an account of the relationship between environmental toxins and the body told through one woman’s struggle with cancer and her corresponding scientific investigation.

Now in its fifth year, the festival is free to all members of the public and features a variety of films, lectures, discussions, and events, all held in the Community Room of the Princeton Public Library at 65 Witherspoon Street.

“We’re finding that these films make you shift your own lens, your core sense of what you think about your world, whether it’s the world at large, or your own life,” Festival Founder and Librarian Susan Conlon admitted. Equal parts informative and intriguing, the selections for this year’s festival offer a look into issues that affect us in the contemporary world while also telling a good story.

In I Bought a Rainforest, Swedish Co-Director Jacob Andren recalls fundraising in elementary school to “save the rainforest” by buying a tree, and seeks to find out what happened and whether their actions as children made any lasting difference. “It really unfolds as a mystery. You’re going along with him and you’re finding this out,” Ms. Conlon said of the film, which is playing at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 16.

Three feature-length documentaries shortlisted for the 2011 Academy Award in that category will be screened, with Gasland director Josh Fox to answer audience questions following the movie on Saturday, January 22 at 7 p.m. Waste Land, a story about the world’s largest garbage dump in Rio de Janeiro and the “catadores” who seek recyclable materials within that space will follow on Sunday, January 23 at 1:30 p.m.

Also shortlisted is This Way of Life, a piece about a New Zealand family’s relationship to the land and one another, that will screen on Sunday, January 23 at 4:30 p.m. “It is the perfect note to end the festival on,” Ms. Conlon noted.

The lineup also includes an evening discussion with filmmaker and oceanographer Fabien Cousteau, the son of Jean-Michel Cousteau and grandson of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, on Friday, January 14 at 7 p.m. and a talk on Sunday, January 16 at 6 p.m. about the policy and economic aspects of clean energy with Van Jones, visiting fellow at Princeton University and former green jobs advisor to the Obama Administration.

New films from first-time filmmakers are also part of the festival, and include The Farmer and the Horse, A Tree Grows in Trenton, and The Olmstead Legacy, some of which were made in or inspired by the region. Children and family programming includes an all-ages film selection and a special visit by human and animal friends from the Philadelphia Zoo on January 15 at 10 a.m.

“We try to get all of the films and put them into the library collection,” Ms. Conlon reported. Patrons may enter “PEFF” as a keyword into the online catalogue to search for festival features of interest.

The Environmental Film Festival runs from Thursday, January 13 to Sunday, January 23. For a complete schedule, visit

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