Regional Film News 

Conscious Viewing

Not long ago, the word "documentary" elicited memories of babbling monotone Brits and sleeping with heads on the desk in grade school. As Michael Moore and Al Gore have proven in recent years, informative nonfiction footage can now equal box office success as well. 

In the spirit of educating, entertaining, and inspiring, the Unity Church of Charleston is hosting an Environmental Film Series, showcasing four recently notable movies that lay out the hard truths all Earth's inhabitants are facing. Unity is an eclectic, non-denominational, Christian-based place of worship that encourages a holistic approach to the world and acknowledges the validity of teachings from other spiritual traditions.

The series began in July with Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, and continues this Fri., Aug. 3, with Kilowatt Ours, tracing the creation and impact of the electricity we use each time we turn on a light in our house. Independent filmmaker Jeff Barrie travels to West Virginia to explore the devastating repercussions of mountain top removal coal mining, from destroying watersheds to uprooting communities. The Southeast is the region of our country with the fastest growing energy demands (Santee Cooper just proposed a massive new coal-fired power plant in S.C.), making Barrie's suggestions for reducing consumption both timely and necessary.

On Sat., Aug. 18, Unity will air The Future of Food, a lauded film by Deborah Koons Garcia, wife of the late Grateful Dead leader. Garcia investigates the "disturbing truth behind the unlabeled, patented, genetically-engineered foods that have quietly filled our grocery store shelves," examining the implications of corporations controlling what we eat. Local, organic, and home-grown solutions are promoted as alternatives to the corporate "frankenfood."

The series wraps up on Fri., Aug. 31 with Green: The New Red White and Blue, Thomas L. Friedman's (author of The World is Flat) look at the global revolution toward sustainable energy and the exacerbation of climate change by the rise of coal-fired plants in India and China. 

"We're focusing on critical issues to create greater awareness and consciousness, and provoke people to focus on individual actions they can take to reduce global warming and address food production issues as they reach capacity," says Preston Maultsby, who organized the series.

  After the films, attendees are invited to stay and discuss them. "We want to catalyze reactions into actions," says Maultsby. 

The films are shown on a large projection screen, and all begin at 7 p.m. Healthy snacks, beverages, and child care are provided, and there is a suggested donation of $5. Unity Church of Charleston is located at 2535 Leeds Avenue near the intersection with Dorchester Road in North Charleston. For more information call the church office at 566-0600. 

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