Environmental film series at SteelStacks: Documentaries highlight environmental issues

With Earth Day right around the corner, SteelStacks in Bethlehem is hosting a film series to raise awareness about environmental issues including climate change, food sustainability and species extinction.

The Environmental Film Series, which is set to take place throughout the month of April, consists of four environmentally themed documentaries which incorporate entertainment, education and advocacy.

According to the SteelStacks event page on the film series, the documentaries are being presented by the ArtQuest Center’s Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas. James Donahue, a member of the Blue Sphere Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to safeguarding the planet’s oceans, worked with the films’ producers to make the screenings free to the public, according to the page.

After each screening in the series, audience members are given a poster that reads, “Dear Congressman Dent…” and are asked to finish the sentence with a phrase describing what they’d like to tell the congressman after seeing the film. After audience members get a chance to share their thoughts, a photo of the poster is taken and displayed online in an effort to raise awareness for the concerns of constituents.7

“It’s not just a film series but also advocacy,” said Megan Schmidt ’17, who has been involved with the event since its early stages as a point person at the college. “I think that’s the power of documentary — using documentary to excite people about the issues and to get people to care, and I think that’s a really powerful tool.”

The screenings also include discussions with the documentary producers, filmmakers and environmental activists.

“It’s a great way to network, and it’s a great way to ask questions you really care about,” Schmidt said. “It’s a very exclusive opportunity because people like that often don’t come to SteelStacks.”

The first film in the series, “Chasing Ice,” premiered on April 5 and follows photographer and former climate change skeptic James Balog, according to the SteelStacks webpage. While Schmidt called the event a success, she said she hopes that more students will attend future screenings.

“There were more adults than college students and we are hoping to get more college students involved,” Schmidt said. “We’ve done more publicity, we’ve got more funding to pay for transportation, so we’re hoping that things go well.”

The next films in the series include “Racing Extinction” on Wednesday and “Food Chains” on April 26. In order to make attendance at the event more accessible to students, the film screening is completely free and students can be reimbursed for Uber rides to and from Steelstacks.

“We really don’t take advantage of opportunities like this at Lafayette,” Schmidt said. “We don’t often get out of our comfort zone and leave campus and this is one of those things that people should leave campus for.”

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