I have chosen Steve Michelson as my artist, specifically his company The Video Project. This company distributes educational media, such as documentaries on the environment, science, health and global issues. The company’s job is to make the films accessible to the “engaged viewer.” They edit different versions of the films for a variety of lengths depending on the market the want to reach, such as 25-30 minutes versions for schools, versions for TV, and the full length for DVD. The community screening is a market of which I was previously unaware, but one to which the company caters. They also sell different licenses for the films depending how the host plans to use the film; for a small audience with free entry or a large audience that will be charged admission, like for a film festival.

Examples of the company’s films include “Rockin’ the Wall” which was recently shown at Sarasota’s Cine-World Film Festival and is “Both an engaging history lesson about the fall of the Berlin Wall and an entertaining exploration of the power of rock music as a force for social change and liberation.”

I saw “America the Beautiful” two years ago in Atlanta when it first when on tour with the filmmaker who had Q&As after the film. It “examines America’s obsession with physical beauty, unearthing its origins, costs and deadly risks, partly through the story of a 12 year-old aspiring model.”

There are many that could be complied into an academic semester and teach on their own. In this sense they have great meaning for classes like our own in biodiversity when a visual, narrative documentary is able to tell much more than traditional words in a powerpoint. “Vanishing of the Bees,” one of the company’s films which we watched in class just this week, is about “the mysterious disappearance of honeybees across the planet, the impact it could have on our food supply, and what scientists and beekeepers think might be the causes and solutions.”

“Burning the Future: Coal in America,” one of their most successful films, is “the definitive documentary on the controversy over “clean coal” and mountain top removal mining.” The New York Times says the film is “as upsetting as it is informative.”

“So Right So Smart” “profiles companies on the cutting edge of more sustainable business practices who are proving that being eco-friendly is both good for the earth and good for business.”

December 5 in Sarasota The Players Theater (838 N Tamiami Tr) will be hosting a free screening of “Fresh,” which is about “the farmers and business people across the nation who are at the forefront of re-inventing America’s food system in a more sustainable fashion.” (The first 100 people in the door receive a coupon for a free burrito at Chipotle Mexican Grill)

Please visit http://www.videoproject.com/ for more educational films whose websites all have resources for film trailers, information on the topics, and how to changes one’s awareness into action for change.

~CJ Hipp and Mackenzie Vartanian

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