The Wild and Scenic Film Festival: A Reading Guide

February 5, 2016


A question for you today, ladies and gents.  Where might you find the nation’s largest environmental film festival?  Would that be in New York?  In Los Angeles?  In Chicago proper?  NO!  As it just so happens, the largest environmental film festival happens right here in our very own Evanston, IL.  Called The Wild and Scenic Film Festival the event is now in its 14th year and showcases, “18 of the world’s most inspiring environmental films at the Evanston Ecology Center as part of the Evanston Environmental Association’s (EEA) Wild & Scenic Film Festival.”  According to the organizers themselves, “The 2016 festival will showcase films over two evenings, Friday, February 5 and Friday, February 19, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Evanston Ecology Center, located at 2024 McCormick Blvd.”

And it got me to thinking.  What every good film festival needs, DESERVES even, is an accompanying booklist for the interested attendees.  With that in mind, here is a listing of some of the books that work well in tandem with the featured films.

indexThe film Filtering the Ocean is described as a movie that, “highlights the problem of toxic microplastics and their effects on marine wildlife and human health.” So for those of you curious about the great Pacific garbage patch you might want to read Charles Moore’s Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain’s Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans. Or, for more fun, Moby-Duck: The true story of 28,800 bath toys lost at sea and of the beachcombers, oceanographers, environmentalists, and fools, including the author, who went in search of them.  Which, you have to admit, is a great title.

In the film Mother of All Rivers activist Berta Cáceres “rallied her indigenous Lenca people to wage a grassroots protest that successfully pressured the government of Honduras and the world’s largest Chinese dam builder, SinoHydro, to withdraw from building the Agua Zarca Dam.”  Curious about China’s environmental history and current policies?  Check out When a Billion Chinese Jump: How China Will Save Mankind – Or Destroy It by Asia environmental correspondent for the Guardian, Jonathan Watts.  Also of interest might be By All Means Necessary: How China’s Resource Quest Is Changing the World by Elizabeth Economy and Michael Levi.

indexIt’s possible that after watching An Education: A Father/Daughter Trip of Discovery you will acquire a craving for all things Antarctican.  No worries.  EPL can feed that need.  Try the documentary Antarctica: A Year On Ice about the scientists, technicians and craftsmen who live on the bottom of the world year-round.  Antarctica: A Biography by David Day chronicles the land the people who have attempted to conquer it.  And Gabrielle Walker’s Antarctica: An Intimate Portrait of a Mysterious Continent contains all the wonder and majesty you would hope to expect.  Then top it all of with the honestly gorgeous book Penguins: The Ultimate Guide by Tui De Roy.

Is Lake Superior one of the world’s ten most unusual lakes?  The film Rabbit Island makes a case for it, and so does Lakes by Jeanne K. Hanson.

Got kids?  No reason to leave them out.  Here are some children’s titles as well.

To accompany the film Filtering a Plastic Ocean, check out Plastic, Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Patricia Newman.  It’s a good companion to Loree Griffin Burns’s Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion.

indexAnd just as the film Fable of the Wolf considers the historic relationship between humans and wolves, the brand new children’s book From Wolf to Woof by Hudson Talbott considers the origins of domestication.

For the complete listing of the films in this year’s festival, be sure to check them out here.


Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.

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