2017 Patagonia Granted Film Festival, Soho, NYC
On Thursday, June 29th, 2017, I attended the Patagonia Granted Film Festival. HII was invited to attend the festival as a participant because Patagonia funds our Trees and Tutus series through one of its grants. We set up a table and were able to speak with the film festival’s guests and other like-minded organizations while enjoying a dinner, the films and a Q&A with the filmmaker.
The guest of honor was Patagonia Ambassador Dan Malloy, a world-renowned surfer turned filmmaker who is working with Patagonia on the Granted film series. Patagonia’s website says, “The Granted film series tells the stories of people who are fighting to preserve or restore life-giving connections to their lands, cultures and communities.”
Malloy showed three films: “Harvesting Liberty,” “The Refuge,” and “Sea of Miracles.”
Still from Sea of Miracles
Each film was incredibly interesting and impactful, covering vastly different topics
that centered around an ecological conservation theme. Harvesting Liberty focused on the barriers to entry and legal roadblocks to hemp farming in America and profiles narrator Michael Lewis’s nonprofit, Growing Warriors, which is America’s first veteran-oriented food security organization. The Refuge is about the Gwich’in people of Alaska and northern Canada’s fight to preserve their culture and the lives of the porcupine caribou, and Sea of Miracles is a not yet released to the public film about local activism in Kaminoseki, Japan centered around opposition of a proposed nuclear power plant.
Harvesting Liberty was particularly interesting to me because it spoke to the desire of Appalachian people to maintain their traditional farming and earth-centric way of life while discovering new opportunities in hemp farming. The region of Appalachia spans from southern New York to northern Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama. Over my spring break, I went to Jonesville, Virginia with the Appalachia Service Project to repair houses for a week with a group from my school. I worked at the house of Ms. Norma, an elderly woman who lived alone and had water damage in the wood of her kitchen because it wasn’t sided. Following my trip, I discussed the concept of American poverty with groups of people I know, and most came to the consensus that the concept of American poverty generally conjures images of homeless people in cities and Dust-bowl era families. Appalachia is one of the poorest regions in the country; its 700,000 coal jobs in the 1900s has dwindled to around 44,000, and it has a poverty rate of 19.7% compared to the national average of 15.6%.
Appalachian communities have been largely forgotten, particularly in American politics. After spending time in Jonesville, it was much easier for me to have compassion for communities devastated by the loss of coal jobs who came out to vote for Trump in waves in an area that has historically voted Democrat. Our program coordinator reminded us that politicians choose to ignore Appalachia, and that a candidate speaking to the region’s needs was unfamiliar and very welcome.
Still of Michael Lewis from Harvesting Liberty
Malloy’s film, Harvesting Liberty, was about hemp farming in the United States, particularly in Appalachia. The narrator, veteran Michael Lewis, spoke to the legal barriers that made it difficult to farm hemp in the U.S., as well as the social and economic barriers he faced trying to start a hemp farm due to classist discrimination. Hemp is a non-psychoactive variety of cannabis that does not contain THC, which is the ingredient in marijuana that can produce a high. Hemp is a renewable resource that can be used to make flour, bread, paint, cosmetics, clothing, biofuels, chemical absorbents, biofuels, and much more. Today, it is illegal to grow hemp in most US states due to its association with marijuana, and all of our raw hemp materials are currently imported from other countries. The 2014 US Farm Bill allowed some states to conduct hemp pilot projects. Michael Lewis now operates America’s first federally permitted Industrial Hemp farm since 1934. Lewis believes that bringing a new, renewable and attractive crop to the Appalachian region could help to lift it out of poverty and create jobs and opportunities for many farmers and manufacturers.
Each of the films featured in the Granted film festival were engaging and told little-known stories of climate activism around the globe. Each video is about 15 minutes long and is a worthwhile time investment that will open your eyes and inspire you to create your own positive environmental impact in your community.
HII would like to thank Patagonia for giving us the opportunity to participate in the film festival and for helping to create environmentally-focused projects that let us help our communities.