MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Welcome back to "Metro Connection," I'm Rebecca Sheir and today, we're cleaning up. In this next part of the show, we'll be talking about a certain kind of clean up, cleaning up our environment. In a film festival going on in Washington right now, addresses that very issue, through 150 movies from 40 different countries showing at 60 locations around town. The 19th Annual Environmental Film Festival also includes special events, like the Chesapeake Bay Program.
MS. REBECCA SHEIR
On March 23rd, you can see a handful of films about the country's largest estuary and meet the local filmmakers. I recently had a chance to talk with two of those filmmakers, Laura Seltzer and Mike English, as well as festival founder and president, Flo Stone. I asked them to meet me on a rather windy day on the Georgetown Waterfront overlooking the Potomac River.
MS. LAURA SELTZER
My name is Laura Seltzer. I'm the producer, director and writer of, "The Last Boat Out." And what I like about the fact that you picked this location is that what people do here up in the -- this area, this region, really does effect what happens all the way down in the mouth of the bay. There's 64,000 square miles of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. And so the last boat out focuses on a small family of working watermen down in the James River who are struggling to survive with diminishing harvest, over population, pollution and runoff and how they're trying to keep a tradition alive of fishing the waters.
And Michael, how about your film?
MR. MIKE ENGLISH
Well, I was just looking out at the water here. There's all kind of stuff in the water, including a lot of sediment, a lot of mud. And this is exactly what my film's about. It's called, "The Runoff Dilemma," and basically it talks about the problem of what's in the water, which is too much nitrogen and too much phosphorous coming from a lot of different sources, sewage treatment plants, people fertilizing their lawns and a lot of it from agriculture. And my film takes a look at the problems associated with agricultural runoff and its negative impact on the Chesapeake Bay.
So, Laura, going back to you for a bit. Can you take us back to what inspired you to do this movie in the first place?
Yeah, I grew up in Newport News, Va., and I heard a pier in my hometown, the last public pier, was being torn down and I just simply went down to say good-bye to a childhood memory. And when I went down there, there were about a dozen working watermen who were just trying to figure out where they were going to take their wooden work boats after this public pier was torn down.
And they started talking and talking and talking and so I said, wait, stop talking. Let me get my camera. Let me really give you a voice. Because what I love to do is give people a voice who aren't often heard and to try to inspire people to make change. So hopefully, through this personal story, people will see there's a real face to this sick bay. You know, watermen are often the first to see the signs of an ailing bay. So this is just one of many affects of pollution and runoff.
And so when you were shooting it, were you actually out in the boats with your camera?
Yeah, that was really great. I mean, these guys wake up about midnight. They're on the boat at 1:00 and they're finished around 11:00. So I would wake up in the hottest of the summer and it was beautiful and calm and cool and I would shoot the sunrise with these guys. It was so amazing. It was such an inspiring experience for me to be able to be privy to this.
And, Mike, what about your experience? What was it like shooting your film?
I can tell you one story. There's a guy named Dick Edwards. He's a dairy farmer on the Eastern shore of Maryland. And 50 years ago, his dad installed some drain tiles, some pipes, underneath a field on his farm to drain it because, you know, the Eastern shore is flat and the water table is high and sometimes you have to do that so you can grow some crops. Fifty years ago, that was considered a brilliant success, you know, down there on the Eastern shore.
Today, those same pipes, basically, are found to be conduits for nitrogen and phosphorous pollution to the Tuckahoe River. So Mr. Edwards is busy getting grants so that he can basically retrofit that entire substructure under that field so that it doesn't carry this nutria pollution out to the Chesapeake Bay. So, I think, farmers are playing by a lot of different rules than they were 20, 30 years ago.
And they're finding it sort of difficult.
So that's why I want to ask you, these films -- the films that are highlighting local issues, how did you choose the films that were going to be in the festival this year?
MS. FLO STONE
We don't take submissions. We look for the very best films, but I also wanted to add that I feel that rivers and waterways, they look very placid and very lovely and you know that many of the pollutants you cannot see and film makes you face them in way that is powerful. Those images really stay with you. So we need these films. We need the films on the whole Chesapeake Watershed and I hope that many, many more will be made in the coming years.
MS. FLO STONE
And that more and more people will see them.
That was environmental film festival president and founder, Flo Stone, along with filmmakers Laura Seltzer and Mike English. The 19th Annual Environmental Film Festival runs through March 27th. To find out more and to watch a trailer for, "The Last Boat Out," and a full length version of, "The Runoff Dilemma," visit our website, metroconnection.org.
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