For a lot of people, movies are a good way to escape reality for a bit and immerse oneself in a entertainment-filled cocoon of euphoric entertainment bliss. For documentary addicts, however, film serves a role as the perfect vehicle for educational enlightenment and a means to broaden one's worldview.
Josh Leffingwell, Communications Director at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC), definitely sees the value in the latter category, and has teamed up with local theaters and businesses to bring about the WMEAC Film Series.
“One of the ways that a lot of people get environmental education is just through watching documentaries,” Leffingwell said. “It's how a lot of people get introduced to these topics, and we knew that there were a number of documentaries out there that pertained to issues that specifically affect West Michigan.”
It was because of this fact that WMEAC first implemented the annual series roughly six years ago. Since its inception, WMEAC has shown numerous documentaries pertaining to environmental issues relevant to West Michigan and surrounding communities, with topics ranging from the removal of dams to fracking. In addition to the film, WMEAC brings in guest speakers to discuss topics explored in each documentary and to give audiences ideas for ways in which they can take action in their communities. Within the past couple of years, the series has been picking up steam, attracting wider audiences and boosting ticket sales.
“Last year we had shown the movie Trashed at Celebration! Cinema, and we sold out one of the entire theaters, so it just continues to grow year in and year out,” Leffingwell said.
To end their 2014-2015 season, WMEAC will be partnering with the UICA to screen the documentary Watermark on Feb. 3. In the documentary, filmmakers travel across continents to see how people in various communities use water in their day-to-day lives. World-renowned photographers incorporate ultra high-definition filming equipment to produce a visually stunning account of the global impact of water consumption.
“It's shot by a world-renowned photographer and the imagery is incredible,” Leffingwell said of the film's cinematography.
And considering West Michigan's abundance of fresh water, it's easy to see why event organizers chose a film with this subject matter to close out the season.
“In West Michigan we use water differently than other people, specifically when we're dealing with the Great Lakes,” Leffingwell said. “Since we have a river that runs right through the Great Lakes and through our city, we have to realize all the various ways that people are using that water and what huge value the Great Lakes have not just for West Michigan, but for the entire world.”
Watermark will start at 6 p.m. at the UICA, with a discussion following the film, all for a $5 suggested donation. And if you find yourself hankering for more environmental documentaries after the event, don't worry – WMEAC has already started planning their 2015-2016 film series, and is always receptive of audience feedback.
“We're always taking recommendations if people have seen a great film,” Leffingwell said. “This is a great chance to see it not just on Netflix or on your TV, but to come out to an actual theater, support a nonprofit and get a bunch of people energized about a topic.”
Satellite Records Teams Up with Alamo Drafthouse to Present Records Collecting Dust
Let's face it. For die-hard music fans, collecting vinyl isn't just a hobby -- it's a way of life. No one understands this obsession better than the folks at Satellite Records in Kalamazoo, the same folks who have teamed up with Alamo Drafthouse Kalamazoo to screen the documentary Records Collecting Dust on Feb. 20.
This brand new documentary is custom made for the subculture-savvy music nerd, featuring interviews with alternative music icons such as Jello Biafra, Mike Watt and metal-god Matt Pike, amongst a whole slew of other musicians and record label owners. Audiences get a peek inside the prodigious record collects of these icons, including anecdotes about how collecting vinyl influenced their own music careers.
The one-time-only screening starts at 7 p.m. at Alamo Drafthouse Kalamazoo, with a full beer and food menu available for the event. For more information, visit drafthouse.com/kalamazoo.