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‘A Fierce Green Fire’ Documentary Focus of Benefit Premiere

Film covering five decades of the environmental movement will show May 7 at the Marjorie Luke Theatre

A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet is coming to Santa Barbara for a benefit premiere. The film from documentarian Mark Kitchell (Berkeley in the Sixties) premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and received a standing ovation at the Environmental Film Festival in the nation’s capital. The film is done but not entirely done, and this screening is to raise funds to complete it.

A Fierce Green Fire will screen at 7 p.m. Monday, May 7 in the Marjorie Luke Theatre, 721 E. Cota St. in Santa Barbara. Appearing will be Kitchell and Paul Relis, founding director of the Santa Barbara Community Environmental Council and is interviewed in the film.

A Fierce Green Fire is the first big-picture exploration of the environmental movement — grassroots and global activism spanning 50 years from conservation to climate change. From halting dams in the Grand Canyon to battling 20,000 tons of toxic waste at Love Canal; from Greenpeace saving the whales to Chico Mendes and the rubbertappers saving the Amazon; from climate change to the promise of transforming our civilization, the film tells vivid stories about people fighting — and succeeding — against enormous odds.

Featured in the film are the incomparable Lois Gibbs; alternative ecology visionaries Paul Hawken and Stewart Brand; Bob Bullard, environmental justice advocate and author; Bill McKibben, author and founder of 350.org; Paul Watson and Rex Weyler, both early Greenpeace activists; Amory Lovins, guru of the “soft path”; Martin Litton, at 92 still thundering about how you’ve got to have “hatred in your heart”; John Adams, co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council; and many more. A wealth of archival material captures the events in all their immediacy and passion.

The film’s title, A Fierce Green Fire, is derived from a powerful quote from American conservation scientist Aldo Leopold, who wrote of a particularly transformative experience as a supervisor of a national forest for the U.S. Forest Service when he was responsible for reducing the wolf population: “We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes — something known only to her and to the mountain.”

Local sponsors include the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, the Community Environmental Council, the Environmental Defense Center, the Sustainability Project, the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, the SBCC Center for Sustainability, the Green Building Alliance, Art From Scrap, Thompson Naylor Architects and the Green Shorts Film Festival. This event is funded in part by a grant from the Marjorie Luke Theatre’s Dreier Family Rent Subsidy Act.

— Lois Phillips is the local screening coordinator for A Fierce Green Fire.

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