Three River Forest elementary and middle school students will show their work—and take home awards—at the 2019 One Earth Film Festival, an environmental film festival that will screen the entries at 11:30 a.m. on March 2 at the Gene Siskel Center, 164 N. State St. in Chicago. Reserve tickets at oneearthfilmfest.org. 

Andrew Edwards, an eighth-grader at Roosevelt Middle School, won first place in the middle school category for “The Turmoil of Palm Oil,” a six-minute film that urges consumers to buy sustainable palm oil. He plans to donate his $200 prize to The Orangutan Project, a nonprofit working to save orangutans in locations where new plantations remove their habitat. 

“I believe that palm oil harvesting will lead to the extinction of the orangutans if it continues … if everyone helps out in situations like these we can together make a difference,” Edwards said in a statement. 

Lily Kleps, a third-grader at Lincoln Elementary School, received an honorable mention for her film “What a Waste!” an eight-minute about the problem of and solutions to food waste. 

“I want people to know that wasting food is a bad habit. I chose this topic because wasting food is also wasting water, land, and energy,” Kleps said in a statement.   

Tori Robinson-Thomas, a sixth-grader at Grace Lutheran School, also received an honorable mention for “Our Water Crisis,” a nearly four-minute film about water conservation among companies and consumers. 

“We cannot make new water,” Robinson-Thomas said in her film. 

The students entered their films through the One Earth Young Filmmakers category, which aims to include work produced by young filmmakers in grades three through college. 

A record 157 students submitted films to the contest this year, with movies coming from as close as River Forest to as far as Hawaii. 

The One Earth Film Festival is organized by Green Community Connections, a volunteer sustainability group that focuses on Oak Park and River Forest. 

“There were so many strong films that we felt we had to recognize them in some way,” Sue Crothers, founding director, said in a statement.

Nona Tepper 

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