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YES! Film Picks: A Sea Change, The Good Soldier, Trouble the Water

A Sea Change

Directed by Barbara Ettinger, 2009, 86 min. www.aseachange.net

film still from A Sea ChangeSven Huseby retraces his childhood footsteps from a Norwegian fish store to Seattle’s Pike Place Market to tell the deeply personal, yet scientific story that is A Sea Change.

A retired history teacher, Huseby seeks answers for—and solutions to—the damage humans have wrought on the oceans. Renewable energy, which has held a lifetime fascination for Huseby, is the hero of the film, but not before the villain—ocean acidification—is revealed.

The poor stepchild to global warming and sea-level rise, ocean acidification is at once more complex and more insidious. The ocean takes up much of the carbon dioxide released from fossil fuel burning in the form of carbonic acid. In the film, Deborah Williams, a marine conservationist, demonstrates the effect by testing the old-fashioned wisdom that drinking soda before bed will rot your teeth. She asks a group of youngsters to collect their baby teeth as they lose them and place one in a glass of tap water and the other in a glass of carbonated water.  In just three weeks, the teeth in the carbonated water are cracked and broken, while those in tap water are completely intact. Imagine, then, what the same carbon dioxide (and carbonic acid) is doing to the shellfish—and all of the creatures that depend on them for survival—in the world’s oceans.

a-sea-change.jpg

In one of the film’s most insightful moments, Huseby meets artist Maya Lin in San Francisco. There, Lin, who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, is working to suspend a map of the San Francisco Bay seabed some 10 to 20 feet in the air. She laments that the seabed is virtually unknown to most people, even scientists: “What we can’t see, we pollute,” she says. She hopes her project will begin to change that.
A Sea Change is surprisingly uplifting. Much of the film identifies the ways that people, particularly young people, are trying to migrate away from a fossil fuel economy.

As a boy, Huseby depended on the sea to feed his hunger and his imagination. Now, as the oceans face a threat unparalleled in human history, Huseby has found that they have still more to give.

Jeff Parsons is a coastal oceanographer based in  Seattle.

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the-good-soldier.jpgThe Good Soldier

Directed by Lexy Lovell and Michael Uys , 2009, 79 min. www.thegoodsoldier.com

Candid confessions of five veterans, from World War II to Iraq, challenge the notion that war is a lawful arena for social injustice and mass murder. For these men, the definitions of “responsibility,” “courage,” and “manhood” evolved  as they enlisted, served, and lived with the consequences of combat: flashbacks, divorce, and drug abuse. Said one: “I sold my soul a long time ago, I’m just trying to recover it.”

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trouble-the-water.jpgTrouble the Water

Zeitgeist Films, 2008, 96 min. www.troublethewaterfilm.com

New Orleans resident and aspiring rapper Kimberly Rivers Roberts couldn’t flee her 9th Ward home before Hurricane Katrina hit. So she documented the storm on her Hi-8 camcorder, narrating the experience from her attic. Roberts’ candid footage and raps take this film beyond news coverage of the storm. Viewers will feel empathy with the victims—and frustration toward the government.

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