Going 'All In' for the planet, with urgency


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By Michelle Dybal

Contributing Reporter

Films exploring forest connectivity, geo-therapy, human impact, teenage environmental inventors and more are showing at locations across Chicagoland with the theme "All In." Going "All In" for the planet may seem like a lofty goal, but One Earth Film Festival (OEFF) organizers say it's a necessity.

"'All In' says everyone anywhere can step up in the biggest and boldest ways possible to make a real difference in combating climate change, which we know is real and happening," said Ana Garcia Doyle, One Earth Film Festival founding member and festival director.

The film festival, which began in 2012 as a grassroots effort by Garcia Doyle and a handful of others in the Oak Park and River Forest area, has blossomed since 500 attendees viewed films at local venues. According to Cassandra West, festival publicist and core team member, a projected 6,000 attendees will view 28 films at 60 venues this year.

In its early years, OEFF had showings in Oak Park, River Forest and the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. Now films are shown as far away as Aurora to the west, Grayslake to the north and Oak Lawn to the south, along with numerous Chicago-area neighborhoods.

"Environmental challenges affect everyone," West said. "Every year we have broadened our reach as more people outside of our home base have actually approached us about bringing the festival to where they are."

The festival also works to reach new audiences. The intended audience for Inventing Tomorrow is teens and tweens, for example. It is showing Saturday at Thatcher Woods Pavilion.

"Certainly, young audiences are important for us to reach," West explained. "And we try to take the festival where resources are limited but environmental issues are real. This year, the festival has 14 screenings on Chicago's South Side."

OEFF includes more than just movies. Many screenings are full-blown events.

During Saturday's showing of The Human Element at the Lake Theatre, film producer Olivia Ahnemann will appear in a live video Q&A with the audience after the film.

Going "All In" also includes taking action: Some screenings include Action Fairs or other learning experiences for film-goers to implement afterwards. Dirt Rich, being shown at Triton College on Saturday, includes a Q&A "to learn about concrete action opportunities" with Katherine Moore Powell of the Field Museum. Also on hand will be the Deep Roots Project, Triton College Sustainability Center, Midwest Grows Green/Integrated Pest Management, West Cook Wild Ones, and the Chicago Community Gardening Association for attendees "to engage with action and project ideas."

A family-friendly film, Call of the Forest: The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees, showing Sunday at Thatcher Woods Pavilion, includes an optional 30-minute forest walk prior to the film.

While films can be viewed as entertainment or as art, in 2016, an impact assessment was conducted to see what affect OEFF was having. According to the report, "A primary mission of the One Earth Film Festival is to inspire the adoption of solution-oriented sustainable actions. … It found that OEFF was fulfilling this mission."

The report concluded that 97 percent of respondents, who had attended the OEFF and completed a survey, shared their experience in the six months following the festival, including more than half (52 percent) talking with a friend, family member or coworker about a film or idea from a festival film.

The report also found that the festival inspired action. While 45 percent said attending reinforced sustainable practices they already had, 19 percent adopted new practices and 32 percent said they did both.

Others said they took specific actions after attending the festival, including nearly half making more sustainable choices in their everyday lives, such as riding bikes instead of driving, conserving water or composting.

See "Inventing Tomorrow," Saturday, March 9, 4 to 6 p.m., free, Thatcher Woods Pavilion; "The Human Element," Saturday, March 9, 10 a.m. to noon, $8, Lake Theatre, 1022 Lake St., Oak Park; "Dirt Rich," Saturday, March 9, 2 to 4:30 p.m., free, R Building, Performing Arts Center, Triton College, 2000 Fifth Ave., River Grove; "Call of the Forest," Sunday, March 10, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., forest walk 9:30 a.m., free, Thatcher Woods Pavilion, 8030 Chicago Ave., River Forest. Tickets/memberships/more films and events: oneearthfilmfest.org.

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