Eco-Oscars

Student filmmakers vie for top prize at the Ecological Society of America's film fest

Elie Dolgin
Aug 13, 2008
The green carpet was rolled out on August 4 for the first-ever linkurl:Ecological Society of America;http://www.esa.org/students/section/?q=node/51 (ESA) Student Ecofilm Festival, part of the ESA's linkurl:annual meeting;http://www.esa.org/milwaukee/ in Milwaukee, WI. There was no popcorn in sight, but there was plenty of beer and chips to go around -- this is a city founded on brewing, after all.The Ecofilm Festival was the brainchild of linkurl:Alan Covich,;http://www.ecology.uga.edu/people/faculty/covich.htm an ecologist at the University of Georgia and former ESA president. Covich devised the event as a way for students to engage in linkurl:educational outreach.;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/53611/ Young ecologists cum filmmakers were invited to submit 5-7 minute short movies in one of three categories: "methods in ecology," "pure nature," and "humans and the environment." A panel of eight judges -- seven ESA members together with the EarthDance Environmental Film Festival's founding director linkurl:Zakary Zide;http://www.zakaryzide.com/ -- then chose the best film in each category. The winners received a free...
SA) Student Ecofilm Festival, part of the ESA's linkurl:annual meeting;http://www.esa.org/milwaukee/ in Milwaukee, WI. There was no popcorn in sight, but there was plenty of beer and chips to go around -- this is a city founded on brewing, after all.The Ecofilm Festival was the brainchild of linkurl:Alan Covich,;http://www.ecology.uga.edu/people/faculty/covich.htm an ecologist at the University of Georgia and former ESA president. Covich devised the event as a way for students to engage in linkurl:educational outreach.;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/53611/ Young ecologists cum filmmakers were invited to submit 5-7 minute short movies in one of three categories: "methods in ecology," "pure nature," and "humans and the environment." A panel of eight judges -- seven ESA members together with the EarthDance Environmental Film Festival's founding director linkurl:Zakary Zide;http://www.zakaryzide.com/ -- then chose the best film in each category. The winners received a free registration to the meeting, worth $150.All told, the linkurl:film fest;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/13118/ received only six entries, two in each category. linkurl:Roberto Salguero-Gomez,;http://www.upenn.edu/grad/pennprize/2007/gomez.html a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania who helped organized the film fest, wasn't disappointed, though. "Five of the six movies were above my expectations for the level of movies we were assuming we'd get," he said. In the "pure nature" category, Ai Nihongi of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee won with a film about pond scum -- complete with linkurl:copepods;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/12053/ getting jiggy to 80's synthesizer backbeats and linkurl:__Daphnia__;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/54222/ procreating to an angelic string arrangement -- called linkurl:__Peak into Zooplankton Life 2008__;http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlKnfic_mUM. The "humans and the environment" winner was linkurl:__Early Spring & Autumn in Cowles Bog__;http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3U17IAeY54 by the University of Chicago's Christopher Meyer. Shot entirely with a digital SLR camera and then stitched together into a Beatles Help-esque montage, Meyer's film followed a hiker on two seasonal hikes in the linkurl:Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore park.;http://www.nps.gov/indu/One film was disqualified from the competition for violating the festival's rules -- the movie clocked in at nearly 40 minutes. Salguero-Gomez asked the film's director, Dakin Henderson, a biology major and film minor undergrad who recently graduated from Colorado College in Colorado Springs, to submit an edited version of his epic eco-flick, linkurl:__Keepers of the Flam__.;http://www.scivee.tv/node/5965 Henderson shaved his film down to a slender 15 minutes, but this was still too long to be considered for a top prize. Instead, the movie -- an intimate portrait of a long-term flammulated linkurl:owl;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/23362/ study, led by Colorado College ecologist linkurl:Brian Linkhart;http://coloradocollege.edu/dept/BY/Faculty/BrianLinkhart/BrianLinkhart.htm -- received an honorable mention, and Henderson was awarded the identification guidebook linkurl:__Parrots of the World__;http://www.avianpublications.com/items/species/item911.htm as a consolation prize. "I'm not sure why," Henderson mused. "Maybe they couldn't find one about owls."
A clip from __Keepers of the Flam__
In addition to the judge's top picks, ESA student members were invited to cast a ballot for their favorite film among the five qualifying contenders, which were all posted on YouTube a month before the film festival. Fifty-three people voted, selecting linkurl:__Fencing Flamingos__;http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcEwcy-7cqM for the student choice award. (The film also won the "methods in ecology" category by default after Henderson's movie was eliminated from the running.) The film, by Cornell University PhD students linkurl:Marita Davison;http://www.birds.cornell.edu/Publications/Birdscope/Autumn2007/flamingos_andean.html and Jennifer Moslemi, chronicled the filmmakers' fieldwork as they collected data about James's, Andean, and Chilean linkurl:Flamingos;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54775/ in the rugged Andean Plateau of Bolivia. The student choice award carried a prize of $200 cash, much to Moslemi's delight. "We're going to do something fun, since we didn't expect to get this money," she said.Salguero-Gomez expects the ecofilm fest to become a regular event at the ESA annual meetings. "Given the high success, we hope that we can extend this to a second edition and a third edition, so this will become a tradition," he said. Colibri Sanfiorenzo-Barnhard of the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Pedras sure hopes so. Her film, linkurl:__Humans and Cave Systems__,;http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CByGLmL5bYk came runner-up among the two films entered in the "humans and the environment" category. "We're excited if it happens again next year," she said. "We're definitely going to submit again."

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