Green Film Series aims to educate audiences on environmental issues

A new movie will be shown monthly through April 2014
Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sitting in the dark theater watching Morgan Spurlock's 2004 diet stunt movie, Super Size Me, Marisa Miller Wolfson hatched an idea for her own film. She aimed to flip Spurlock's concept on its head. When he pledged to only eat McDonald's food for 30 days (to startling effect), Wolfson decided to document a group of burger lovers who ditched their Happy Meals for a diet that didn't include meat, dairy or processed ingredients.

Seven years later, Wolfson’s own documentary was ready for mass release. Vegucated, which follows three New Yorkers on their quest to follow a vegan diet, will be shown on Tuesday, Nov. 12, and Wed., Nov. 13, as the third film in Rider University's Green Film Series.

Presented by the Energy and Sustainability Committee, the series began in 2009. It offers the Rider community the opportunity to watch documentaries and full-length features with an environmental angle. These movies are shown on select days at 7 p.m. in Sweigart Auditorium (115) on the Lawrenceville campus and are followed by brief discussions.

Culling from award winners and the festival circuit films, Melissa Greenberg, Rider's sustainability manager, wants to expose the audience to crucial environmental issues. "Sometimes ignorance is bliss, but with the way the world is going, it would be wrong for someone not to understand his or her impact on the planet," she says.

Focusing on food, water, energy and climate change, the movies are tied together by the question of sustainability. If fracking makes landowners rich, can they sustain the environmental impact? If plastic provides an almost miraculously convenient material, can human health survive the continual exposure? If the Colorado River is a plentiful source of water, can it meet a seemingly unquenchable demand?

"As a university, we need to raise awareness about environmental issues," Greenberg says. "No matter what your major might be now, everyone is going to deal with these issues at some point. Our duty is to expose the basic elements of environmental challenges and to give people tools to leave less of a footprint on the planet."

This year's series kicked off with Promised Land, a drama penned by Matt Damon and John Krasinski that centers on a natural gas salesman (Damon) trying to win over a rural community with the promise that they're sitting on a natural-gas windfall. In addition to love, Damon's character may or may not find redemption as he confronts the townspeople whose lives would be disrupted by the drilling. Promised Land was shown Sept. 17 and 19 of this year.

The 2014 Green Film Series schedule is as follows:

The audience for the Green Film Series continues to grow year over year, Greenberg says. Attracting only 10 or 15 people in its inaugural year, the series now draws anywhere from 30 to 90 viewers for each screening, which are free and open to the public.

To learn more about what Rider is doing to go green, visit www.rider.edu/about-rider/sustainability-rider.

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"Vegucated" follows three New Yorkers trying to follow a vegan diet. (Photo by by Jessica Mahady)