Above: Photo by the late Dom Martino, Gainesville’s renowned nature photographer whose work has been used to promote Cinema Verde.

From Feb. 24 to March 2, activists, filmmakers, artists and students will showcase environmental issues and solutions from all over the world in the third annual Cinema Verde Environmental Film and Arts Festival.

Unlike festivals of the past, Cinema Verde has consolidated all of its events this year to a single location, making it easier for attendees to locate and enjoy the many different components the festival has to offer. Over the 10-day span of Cinema Verde, the Villa East event space on Main Street will be the home and headquarters of about 25 environmental films, a variety of environmentally themed art, and several eco-friendly organizations.

Tickets for each film will be $7 for general admission and $5 for students, children and seniors. RSVP on Facebook >>

Inspiring Gainesville, One Film at a Time

Environmental journalist and author Trish Riley started Cinema Verde in hopes of inspiring others the same way environmental film screenings across the nation have inspired her.

She said she hopes the festival will bring Gainesville’s community together to work toward solutions rather than simply focusing on the problems themselves.

“I don’t want people to just come and watch a film and walk away,” Riley said. “I want them to become part of a core group of people that can fix the world.”

The first two years of the festival brought close to 3,000 attendees. Riley said she is grateful for the opportunity to help educate so many people about such critical world issues.

“Our environmental problems are of great concern to our survival,” she said. “If people don’t understand, they won’t address and solve these problems, and if we don’t solve these problems, we’re sunk. It’s over.”

Eco-Art Walk and Eco-Fairs

On the last Friday of every month, art galleries around town showcase the work of local artists in an event called Art Walk Gainesville. For the month of February, Cinema Verde will put a new twist on the monthly art show with its Eco-Art Walk at Villa East.

The free event will be held Feb. 24 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. and will feature a gallery setting where visitors can view the environmentally themed work of artists from Gainesville and beyond.

The environmental artwork will consist of paintings and photos featuring subjects such as Florida springs and other natural resources, Riley said. Some pieces will be available for purchase.

Attendees can also view trailers of some of the films featured at Cinema Verde as well as short student film submissions from high school students throughout the country and college students from around the world. Audience members will be asked to participate in judging the student films to determine the winning submissions.

The food at the event will also be eco-friendly, Riley said. Local and sustainable organically grown food and drinks will be provided by Celebrations Catering.

Environmental organizations and businesses will join the festival during the opening weekend as a part of two themed eco-fairs. Feb. 25 will focus on celebrating the beauty of nature, while Feb. 26 will focus on sustainable solutions. Both will be held in Villa East’s outdoor area.

Confessions of an Eco-Terrorist

For filmmaker Peter Brown, fighting whale hunters is just another day on the job. He spent the past 30 years of his life living out at sea among the determined “animal saviors” of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a nonprofit organization based in Washington state.

He spent much of that time behind a camera.

Brown’s film, “Confessions of an Eco-Terrorist,” will be one of the first films played at this year’s Cinema Verde festival. The film will be screened Saturday, Feb. 25 at 8 p.m.

The documentary provides an inside look at life aboard the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ships, following Captain Paul Watson and the rest of the crew in their perilous endeavors to police international waters against illegal fishing activities, whaling, and seal hunting.

However, Brown explains this is not your typical environmental film.

Many environmental films depress and overwhelm viewers with the problems of the world, he said, but “this one actually makes you feel good; that maybe you can make a difference.”

He said he hopes the documentary will encourage viewers to get out from behind the television and go do something positive for the world.

“The point is that it’s up to all of us to make a difference, and I think that we have to all realize that we all have a footprint on the planet,” Brown said. “It’s up to every one of us.”

Thumbnail courtesy of John Moran, whose work will be featured at Cinema Verde this year.