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Going green: Conservation Film Fridays connect conservation with CATF plays

By Staff | Jul 19, 2019

American Conservation Film Festival Executive Director Jennifer Lee opens the first Conservation Film Fridays film showing in Shipley Hall on Friday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN – For the second year in a row, the American Conservation Film Festival and Contemporary American Theater Festival have banded together to feature an event highlighting the connections between CATF’s plays and ACFF’s documentaries.

While last year’s CATF season featured one film showing of a conservation film, which connected with the themes in one of 2018’s plays, this year’s season gave ACFF a regular slot throughout the month of July to offer audience members a conservation-focused perspective on CATF’s plays.

According to CATF Company Manager Nicole Smith, CATF was pleased to feature ACFF in its festival.

“CATF is all about community partnerships, so we’re happy to join them with us,” Smith said. “The stories that will be told align with CATF’s values. Our theme for this year’s season is ‘Words Matter,’ because we believe certain stories need to be told. Our hope would be that we can continue this partnership.”

ACFF Executive Director Jennifer Lee agreed with Smith.

From left, ACFF Executive Director Jennifer Lee and ACFF Festival Manager Hilary Lo talk about “The Devil We Know” with Richard Thayer, of Reston, Va., in the Frank Arts Center on Friday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

“The fact that we’re both arts-based organizations makes sense for us to collaborate. We’re really thrilled to be able to do this,” Lee said on Friday afternoon.

“Today’s film was a West Virginia film that had a good response in last year’s film festival. It is primarily West Virginia-based, and is about the Dupont factory spill – something that resonates strongly in Jefferson County right now. It’s an empowering film, it’s a disturbing film,” Lee said, about “The Devil We Know.”

“The other two films, which will be shown on the next two Fridays this month, go back to 2016 and are award winners,” Lee said, referring to “Disobedience” and “E.O. Wilson: Of Ants and Men,” respectively.

According to Lee, ACFF and CATF met together in the spring to discuss holding the Conservation Film Fridays at 2 p.m. in the Frank Arts Center’s Shipley Hall. During the meeting, ACFF learned about the themes of CATF’s plays, and determined their film choices based on those themes.

“We thought they tangentially wove into three of the plays in the festival. I’d kind of like for the audience to discover how that might be,” Lee said, mentioning Conservation Film Fridays’ first film, “The Devil We Know,” connected with the play “Chester Bailey,” because both pieces featured “accidents, physical trauma and coping mechanisms.”

Before she turned on the film, Lee encouraged audience members to attend ACFF’s film festival, to support the work of conservation film makers.

“The importance of conservation film making is increasing,” Lee said. “Film makers are not getting rich from it; they’re doing a dangerous job. Conservation film making is very important to our futures, because knowledge is power.”

For CATF audience member of 20 years Richard Thayer, of Reston, Va., viewing Friday’s film opened his eyes to the value of supporting conservation film makers.

“I will be back for the October film festival,” Thayer said, mentioning he looked forward to watching the festival’s plays and determining which one connected with the film. “It was a really good film – sobering, but successful.”