First Annual SMC

With a little over a 100 students and citizens in attendance, the Santa Monica College Earth Day Film Festival was an intriguing and motivating display of human beings working to improve our world.

The festival included 11 films that included fun short films, as well as some dramatic and moving documentaries.

The event was coordinated by SMC Professor Sheila Laffey who teaches a variety of cinema classes but shares a passion for her Cinema 5 course, which deals with social, political and environmental issues in feature films and documentaries.

"I mainly do this to inspire others," said Laffey who seemed extremely busy throughout the event, yet never failed to have a smile on her face. "I'm a filmmaker also, and I see the effect that the films I show in my Cinema 5 class have on my students, and I suppose I wanted to share them with a larger audience."

Much of the event had to do with spreading the knowledge of what is happening out in the world concerning our environment.

Many of the films dealt with major political and environmental issues such as the oil controversies, lumber companies and global warming.

These pieces contained footage that made many of the attendees in the auditorium groan from disgust and disappointment. They even clapped to congratulate the protestors in the film as though they were standing right in front of them.

The individuals who attended were trying to absorb the information like a sponge in order to spread the knowledge to others outside the Art Complex room 214.

One of most interesting films that was shown was, "Treewoman," directed by Venice filmmaker Ziri Rideaux, which dealt with the famous young woman, Julia Butterfly Hill, who lived in an ancient 200 feet tall Redwood tree in Stafford, Calif., to protest the Pacific Lumber Company.

Butterfly managed to create a residence on top of this massive piece of history for over two years, living there from December 10, 1997, to December 18, 1999.

Rideaux was able to capture enough footage of this woman to make a short documentary that evoked true and uninhibited emotion.

This movie included such moving scenes as California Police force using physical violence in pepper spray to invoke pain onto the protestors in Stafford.

The footage was released to the victims after the federal court declared the police brutality appropriate and necessary, showing the breathtaking enthusiasm that these individuals had to fight for their cause.

"This film actually did amazingly well. It was shown all over the world in hundreds of different countries, but not in the United States," said Rideaux. "I pace myself so as not to become discouraged by the great injury and sadness in the world. I usually will make a light hearted short then move on to a more serious topic for a documentary."

Attendees of the film festival seemed to enjoy the format of the event because they were able to talk with the filmmakers and discuss their exact purpose and motivation for each individual aspect of the film.

"I really enjoy it thus far," said Pat Beebe, a Santa Monica native.

"The filmmakers are here and it gives a new feel to the entire event. Although, I thought this place was going to be packed with people. I guess I was wrong," explained Bebee.

After the event ended on Saturday night around 10 p.m., the veggie van, which runs on pure vegetable oil, drove away while the group of students and citizens shook hands with one another and parted each going a different direction.

They left with the hope that they, or someone else, may be able to spread the knowledge