Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 21, 2014

Overlooked? How a Big Film Festival Can Overwhelm

The Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital, which has been under way since March 12 and wraps up Sunday, is a monster of a festival: 190 films, 75 venues, 110 premieres. It’s the Cannes or Toronto for the green crowd.

With crowd-pleasing fare such as “How I Became an Elephant,” provocative ones such as “Greedy Lying Bastards” and classic films including “The African Queen,” though, it’s easy to overlook some of the more modest, yet still arresting, movies gracing the city’s screens over the course of the festival’s two weeks.

A case in point is Wednesday’s screening of “The Age of Aluminum.”

With no cuddly tree sloths or the like to feature, the filmmakers rely on a straightforward documentary style to give an overview of how aluminum was transformed from an exotic metal a century ago to an ingredient everyday deodorant, vaccinations and food, and the environmental and health issues associated with such prevalence.

Many scientists and health researchers are linking aluminum to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and a host of allergies, and the environmental effects can be seen in mining practices and high energy use required with producing commercial aluminum.

Filmmaker Bert Ehgartner used his own book, “Dirty Little Secret — the Aluminum Files,” to make the film, and it will have its world premiere Wednesday at the Carnegie Institution of Science (1530 P St. NW) at 7 p.m. After the film, a panel discussion will follow with Ehgartner, Christopher Shaw, a professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of British Columbia, Claire Dwoskin, founder of the Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute, Jim Olds, a Krasnow Institute professor of molecular neuroscience, and Katherine Redford, co-founder of EarthRights International.

The screening and discussion are free and open to the public. Consider this an overlooked heads-up. Yes, there are sexier films to check out, but those are easy to love and patronize. Even more important is to check out the overlooked, and there are some real gems among the 190 festival movies.

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