Volume 19 Issue 50 | April 27 - May 3, 2007

A Downtown Express Special Supplement

Tribeca Film Festival 2007

Photo by Denise Crew

Kevin Wall, founder of the enviro-organization SOS with former veep Al Gore and Cameron Diaz at the announcement that green-themed shorts would be screened opening night at the Tribeca Film Fest.

The greening of the Tribeca Film Festival

By Katherine Dykstra

More proof that the environment couldn’t be any, ahem, hotter, the Tribeca Film Festival chose to break convention and open this year’s festival not with a major feature film as it has done in the past, but with a series of seven green-themed short films hosted by none other than Al Gore, former Vice President and environmental guru.

The slate, which was announced on April 25th, opening night, was chosen from 60 shorts initially commissioned by Save Our Selves, a non-profit whose mission is to spread environmental awareness through entertainment. It shares the same acronym as the international signal for distress.

“We wanted to figure out how to get the message out,” said SOS founder Kevin Wall. “We took a look at a lot of the films in and around the environmental issue and thought, we should create a big volume of them.”

And so began a worldwide search for filmmakers in every genre.

“We’ve gone after Academy Award-winners to documentary filmmakers to commercial directors and music video directors,” said Wall. “We wanted a balance between U.S. and foreign directors so we could get a tack on this from around the world.”

The response was astounding. In fact, according to Wall, SOS did not receive a single no. Each filmmaker was asked to create a provocative 4- to 10-minute short that addresses global warming and the environment. The results include films from major independent directors like Jonathan Glazer, who made “Birth” (2002); Kevin MacDonald, who directed last year’s Oscar-winning “Last King of Scotland;” documentary filmmakers such as Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, who made “Jesus Camp;” and animation companies such as Aardman Animation, which produced “Wallace and Gromit.” All seven films will also be shown this summer at Live Earth, a global concert series that will air for 24 hours on July 7 in seven continents with 150 musical acts including Kanye West, Melissa Etheridge and the Smashing Pumpkins.

So how did the Tribeca Film Festival get involved? Apparently the SOS project simply came up in conversation between Wall and Jane Rosenthal, one of the festival’s founders, along with Robert De Niro and Craig Hatkoff. And that was that.

“When we met with Jane she said this is something we have not done before,” said Wall. “We were blown away that they would want to participate.”

Though it’s not so surprising. The Tribeca Film Festival has always had an activist bent, first in its attempt to bring business Downtown post-September 11, and now in its desire to spread awareness of the climate crisis.

“I think that we’re seeing this issue move from page seven to page one and now it’s all over the evening news every night,” said Wall. “It’s a red alert.”

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