10 Suggestions For The SF Green Film Festival

San Francisco’s Green Film Festival delivers a cinematic antidote to current political and business short-sightedness. Its more than 70 films encourages viewers to take the long view of the environmental problems facing humanity. Here are ten films and events to check out over the weeklong festival, which runs from April 20-26 at such venues as the Castro Theatre and the Roxie Theatre.

Atomic: Living In Dread And Promise

Relive through old film clips the impact of the nuclear age on humanity. Anti-nuclear protests to the beauty of atomic structure, Cold War military threats to MRIs, they’re all here courtesy of the diligent digging of director Mark Cousins (The Story Of Film). Add in a soundtrack by Scottish post-rock band Mogwai, and you have an unforgettable cinematic experience.

Screens April 21 at 9:00 PM at the Roxie Theatre

Dark Circle

To the Donald Trumps of the world, nuclear proliferation isn’t that serious a concern. But as this Emmy Award-winning documentary reminds viewers, using plutonium in America’s nuclear weapons has deadly intentional and unintentional effects. From mishandling of nuclear wastes to accidental home poisonings of American citizens, the SF Green Film Festival’s 35th anniversary screening of this seminal film is unfortunately still timely.

Screens April 23 at 12:30 PM at the Roxie Theatre

Dead Donkeys Fear No Hyenas

This winner of the SF Green Film Festival’s 2017 Green Tenacity Award investigates the new face of colonial land-grabbing. Foreign investors have been swooping into developing countries to buy farmland. As Ethiopian environmental journalist Argaw shows, what was supposed to be a well-intentioned spur to economic development has become a way to screw small farmers out of their land, their livelihoods, and their food. Executive produced by Fredrik Gertten (Big Boys Gone Bananas).

Screens April 23 at 5:45 PM at the Roxie Theatre

Death By A Thousand Cuts

The issue of deforestation gets personalized via a murder investigation. The victim is Melaneo, a Dominican Park Ranger killed near the Haiti-Dominican Republic border. Through perspectives ranging from Melaneo’s widow to a local reporter, the viewer is introduced to the sociopolitical complexities of the illegal charcoal trafficking trade and its relationship to deforestation. More importantly, viewers see how deforestation negatively affects both Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Screens April 21 at 12:00 PM at the Koret Auditorium, SF Main Library

Inspiring Lives: A Conversation With Flo Stone

If you love the SF Green Film Festival, you need to thank Flo Stone. She founded the nation’s first Environmental Film Festival in Washington, D.C., the longest-running such film festival in the nation. Now as her Environmental Film Festival turns 25, she comes to SF Green Film Festival to talk about her life and career.

Event takes places April 22 at 1:30 PM at 518 Valencia

Plastic China

Director Jiu-liang Wang’s documentary takes viewers to a Chinese countryside buried in imported Western trash. Here, whole families live among and mine the trash for plastic to recycle. Two subjects hope for a better life than their current situation: recycling facility owner Kun and optimistic 11-year-old Yi-jie. The latter wants to attend school and eat fresh fruit, but it’s clear her alcoholic father can’t afford school fees. Can these two people transcend their circumstances or must they make do with what life has given them?

Screens April 25 at 6:30 PM at the Little Roxie Theater

RISE Standing Rock

The SF Green Film Festival Centerpiece film and Best Feature winner shows how the Sioux resistance at Standing Rock to the Dakota Access Pipeline spurred a pan-tribal protest movement. This act of indigenous resistance created such leaders as Ladonna Brave Bull Allard and Billie Jean Three Legs. It also gave Native American women a platform to bring up other issues troubling the community such as ecological damage from dams and sexual violence against women.

Screens April 23 at 8:15 PM at the Roxie Theater


Hampton Roads, Virginia happens to be home to the world’s largest naval base. It’s also in danger of being buried underwater thanks to sea level rise. Should that happen, the US would suffer a devastating hit to its national security. So now the military community of Hampton Roads is coming together to find a new way to save their homes, their schools, and the base itself. If they succeed, their approach could show how other communities can be saved from sea level rise in the 21st century.

Screens April 23 at 2:45 PM at the Little Roxie Theatre

Twelve Pianos

In Half Moon Bay, CA, artist and musician Mauro ffortissimo plays a nightly piano concert for the migrating whales passing offshore. He soon gets the idea to install a dozen pianos along the San Mateo Coast, which draws the attention and participation of everyone from classical musicians to novices. That success spurs ffortissimo to install pianos on San Francisco’s streets, which reawakens the city’s artistic soul. SF Green Film Festival closes with this documentary, which includes live piano performances.

Screens April 26 at 8:30 PM at the Castro Theatre

You’ve Been Trumped, Too

Restoring a 95-year-old grandmother’s access to running water after it gets cut off shouldn’t be that big a deal. But it is when the perpetrator of that denial of service happens to be the Donald Trump organization. That water cutoff “coincidentally” occurred after grandmother Molly Forbes and her son Michael refused to sell their land to Trump’s people so they could build an Aberdeenshire golf course. Now it’s five years later and Trump’s people still hasn’t restored water to Mrs. Forbes. Director Anthony Baxter, who’s made a couple of previous films about this struggle, follows Michael Forbes’ effort to hold Donald Trump accountable.

Screens April 22 at 4:50 PM at the Little Roxie Theatre

About the Author

I'm a film reviewer for the Beyond Chron blog. Agnes Varda and Hirokazu Kore-eda are among my favorite filmmakers. I occasionally break down and watch a good action film...but don't tell anyone.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.