Climate change isn’t cool

“Seeing Climate Change” aims to encourage dialogue addressing rapid environmental transformations.

by John Sand

Whether it is greenhouse gases, some higher power’s punishment, or just a trick Mother Nature herself is playing, we can all agree: The planet just might fall apart if we don’t stop ignoring the problem.

“Seeing Climate Change” Film Festival

Where: Bell Museum Auditorium 10 Church Street S.E., Minneapolis
When: through April 27
Price: $5 students

“Seeing Climate Change,” a film festival taking place at the Bell Museum of Natural History, “is not about convincing people climate change is happening,” says Shanai Matteson, the Bell Museum’s film programmer. It’s about “provoking discussion.”

The festival, which will take place over the course of four days, spans genres from scientific documentary and independent shorts by local filmmakers to kids’ films and science fiction. The force that unites all films is the drive to address a question that requires an immediate reaction, as Matteson says, “How do we talk about climate change and struggle with that type of rhetoric?”

The screenings are shown in conjunction with a current museum exhibition, “Paradise Lost: Climate Change in the North Woods,” and will open this evening with the documentary “Everything’s Cool.” This film, with a dash of stress and a pinch of humor, revolves largely around the public’s ability to address the problem and open necessary pathways for discussion, claiming that dialogue is important by every person every day, and not just at Environmental Protection Agency committee board meetings, thousands of miles from home.

Thursday’s film session will be followed by a reception hosted by The Red Stag Supper Club, the first restaurant in Minnesota to be certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The reception will also be featuring Dreamland Faces, a locally based six member band featuring an electric accordion and a singing saw.

The festival hopes to address the peculiar tone that often accompanies the phrase “climate change.” With the facts that float around in the news, environmentalist Web sites, and that Al Gore flick, discussion of environmental issues can be daunting, to say the least.

“The Last Winter,” which will be shown on Saturday evening, is a film that Matteson feels will be most interesting for the student body. This science fiction film involves an oil-drilling company that releases a fictional gas while drilling that causes behavioral changes. The film “captures the sense of eeriness surrounding our change in environment,” says Matteson, “and the sense that something isn’t right.” She believes this fictional film embodies the tone that surrounds dialogue focused on climate change.

The first step to approaching the environmental climate shifts is group organization. Saturday boasts the film “Sea to Shining Sea,” which follows a group of environmentally active Canadian cyclists as they trek from the West Coast to the East Coast of our northern neighbor. Matteson says the film ties with the festival well, because it asks “How, as a culture, do we deal with change, and how can we organize committees?”

By engaging people of all ages, Matteson and the crew at the Bell Museum hope to reduce the haziness emitted by high-brow environmental speak and encourage the discussion that will lead to positive change in day-to-day life.