Reviews: More DVDs on the Environment

Viewers can’t get enough of the environment and how we live with it and in it. Here are more DVD reviews, some previously published in LJ.

Burning in the Sun. color. 22/83+ min. Cambria Matlow & Morgan Robinson, Birdgirl Prods., dist. Bullfrog Films, 800-543-3764; 2011. DVD ISBN 9781594589119. $295 (Rental: $95). Public performance; SDH subtitles. ENVIRONMENT
This award-winning documentary focuses on Daniel Dembélé, a young African Italian entrepreneur living in Bamako, Mali. Dembélé is determined to start a business that will help his small impoverished nation. He leads a workshop to fabricate solar panels, supported by a U.S. nonprofit group, Practical Small Projects (PSP). PSP volunteers travel to the village of Banko to set up solar lights and a well pump. Viewers learn that Dembélé’s small business, Afriq-Power, later won a contract to supply solar electricity to numerous villages. French is spoken in Mali, so English subtitles are used throughout. Extras include a film about solar cookers.
Verdict A success for everyone involved and a glimpse into African sustainable development on the ground. The 83-minute version of the video, however, needs editing. The number of interested viewers may be limited by the case study nature of the production: one innovator in one country.—David R. Conn, formerly with Surrey Libs., BC

Butterflies & Bulldozers: David Schooley, Fred Smith, and the Fight for San Bruno Mountain. color. 62 min. Ann & Steve Dunsky, dist. Bullfrog Films, 800-543-3764; 2011. DVD ISBN 9781594589027. $250 (Rental: $85). Public performance; SDH subtitles.
The Shrimp. color. 15 min. Keith Wilson, Walleye Prods., dist. New Day Films, 888-367-9154; 2011. ISBN 9781574482829. DVD. $75; acad. libs. (Rental: $65). Public performance. ENVIRONMENT
Butterflies & Bulldozers recounts efforts to protect the habitat of many rare species on San Bruno Mountain, San Mateo County, CA. Archival clips and interviews trace the lives of local residents David Schooley and Fred Smith through decades of development proposals. Schooley, with San Bruno Mountain Watch, has been an uncompromising foe, while Smith was elected to civic government, which eventually allowed housing to be built on some lower slopes. Most of the mountain is now a state and county park. San Bruno was the site of the first Habitat Conservation Plan, since used around the nation.
The Shrimp is meant to remind viewers of the vulnerability of the commercial shrimping industry on the Gulf Coast. It is threatened by pollution, oil spills, and cheaper imports. This brief video follows one cute crustacean frisking in the waters off Savannah, GA. That shrimp is netted, iced, processed, and eaten. This is a film of pure images and implication: no voice-overs, no interviews, no music.
Verdict Both videos have won awards. Butterflies & Bulldozers would appeal to San Francisco Bay Area viewers and others interested in habitat preservation. The Shrimp could be considered a novelty item with great visual impact.—David R. Conn, formerly with Surrey Libs., BC

Dive! Living Off America’s Waste. color. 53+ min. Jeremy Seifert, Compeller Pictures, dist. by First Run Features, 800-229-8575; 2011. DVD UPC 720229914765. $24.95. Closed-captioned.
Nourish Short Films: 54 Bite-Sized Videos About the Story of Your Food. color. 83 min. WorldLink, 415-561-2141; 2011. DVD UPC 850075002290. $44.50; acad. libs. $89.95 + $4.95 s/h. Public performance. HOME ECON
What began as an unusual life choice for Dive! filmmaker Seifert becomes a compelling documentary about food and waste in the United States. Seifert and friends are dumpster divers—going to local grocery stores after hours and taking the food they find in the dumpster. Initially, this may seem repellent, until the viewer sees being pulled out of the “trash” more and more pristine food, whose only problem is being one day away from the sell-by date. What starts as a personal mission graduates to looking at the larger issue of food waste in America. The film is well edited, engaging, and educational. The narrative is interspersed with statistics that sound impossible but are facts in the United States; for example, 11 million people are going hungry while 3000 pounds of food are thrown out every second.
Nourish Short Films is a collection of 54 interviews with a variety of leaders in the food movement such as Michael Pollan, Jamie Oliver, and Anna Lappé. Topics are diverse and thought-provoking and include biodiversity, sustainable farming, food and family, and fast food. The film progresses from some of the issues we are currently facing, e.g., obesity, to solutions and options. The bite-size amount of information on each topic, combined with vibrant sequences of food growth and production, makes this a good choice for use in discussion groups and in educational settings.
Verdict Both programs offer food for thought and are highly recommended for all audiences.—Catherine Gilmore, MLS, Portland, OR (LJ 3/15/12)

Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? 82+ min. Taggart Siegel, Collective Eye Films, dist. by Music Box Films, 2012. DVD UPC 736211214553. $25.95. NAT HIST/ENVIRONMENT
This documentary picks up where previous videos about the disappearance of honeybees left off. The Strange Disappearance of the Bees (below), Colony, and Vanishing of the Bees (LJ 6/1/11) describe colony collapse disorder (CCD), the sudden death of hives of bees, as most likely from the use of systemic pesticides in agribusiness aggravated by varroa mite infestations of the hives. Siegel’s film expands this premise to include the genetic engineering of queen bees for commercial beekeeping. Narrowing the gene pool of commercial honeybees limits the queens’ longevity, with inbreeding severely curtailing worker bees’ natural immunities. The solutions to CCD are convincingly presented: establish bee sanctuaries, create local and urban beekeeping, eliminate pesticides and artificial feeding of bees to improve natural resistance, and encourage agribusiness to plant bee-friendly nectar sources within commercially pollinated crops. Bonus features include additional resources.
Verdict This film is highly recommended for naturalists and those concerned with our diminishing species.—Cliff Glaviano, formerly with Bowling Green State Univ. Libs., OH (LJ 5/1/12)

starred review starSemper Fi: Always Faithful. color. 76 min. Rachel Libert & Tony Hardmon, Wider Film Projects in assoc. with Chicken & Egg Pictures, Tied to the Track Film, dist. by Bullfrog Films, 800-543-3764; 2012. DVD ISBN 9781937772093. $295 (Rental: $95). Public performance. SDH subtitles; home version. Passion River, Oct. 2012. $29.99. ENVIRONMENT
More than any other branch of military service, the U.S. Marine Corps seeks to instill a strong sense of pride and honor in all of its recruits. As a career master sergeant and drill instructor, Jerry Ensminger was dutybound to carry on this tradition to the best of his ability. He always felt the Marine Corps had an obligation to him as well. When Ensminger’s nine-year-old daughter died of a rare type of leukemia, however, his world collapsed. After years of struggling with his grief and wondering why he had lost his daughter, Ensminger finally saw a TV news story that spurred him to action. This award-winning documentary tells the shocking story of widespread water contamination at Camp Lejeune, NC, the Marine Corps’ cover-up, and Ensminger’s quest for truth and justice.
Verdict This powerful and timely documentary shows how one determined marine started an unlikely grassroots movement against one of the largest polluters in the United States. The cast of characters Ensminger meets along the way are both fascinating and heartbreaking. The sound and cinematography are top-notch. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.—Rod Bustos, Augusta State Univ. Lib., GA (LJ 9/1/12)

starred review starThe Strange Disappearance of the Bees. color. 58 min. Mark Daniels, Telefrance & Galafilm Prods., dist. by Icarus Films, 800-876-1710; 2011. DVD $398. Public performance; closed-captioned. NAT HIST/ENVIRONMENT
This is an outstanding addition to recent films looking into the phenomenon of disappearing honeybees…. Here, filmmaker Daniels widens the scope to include wild bee populations in precipitous decline, including species extinction. Commercial beekeepers, forced to supplement the diets of the bees they deploy in monocultural agriculture (pollinating a specific food crop), realize they are working their bees to death. Still, wild bees adapted to a more diverse and nutritious pollen diet are dying, too. The culprit could be the sublethal poisoning of bees by neonicotinoids retained in the pollens of crops treated with systemic pesticides. Most sobering: scientific experts envisioning a world without bees or, alternatively, an agriculture pollinated by genetically engineered bees.
Verdict This documentary is very highly recommended for all audiences.—Cliff Glaviano, formerly with Bowling Green State Univ. Libs., OH (LJ 3/15/12

Sun Come Up. color. 38 min. Jennifer Redfearn, Big Red Barn Films in assoc. with Chicken & Egg Pictures, dist. by New Day Films, 2011. DVD ISBN 9780615509556. $129; acad. libs. $295 (Rental: $75). Public performance. ENVIRONMENT
Climate refugees have become a reality in this day and age. This Oscar-nominated production highlights a critical time for the Tuluun people of Papua New Guinea. Their home, Carteret Atoll, is being destroyed by the encroaching Pacific Ocean. The cause appears to be rising global sea levels. A video crew sets the scene on the coral islets with interviews and voice-overs, then joins a delegation traveling to the much larger island of Bougainville, where the Tuluun seek local permission to resettle. The ongoing process is said to be the world’s first climate change relocation as the islanders lament the impending loss of their traditional beach community and way of life. Most of the dialog is in Halia or pidgin English, so subtitles are used throughout.
Verdict This sensitive film generates sympathy for the victims and documents the beginning of a disheartening worldwide trend. Suitable for all students and adults.—David R. Conn, formerly with Surrey Libs., BC (LJ 5/15/12)


Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox ( is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"