Robert Redford is presenting a three hour slot about the Environment every week on his Sundance channel. Called THE GREEN, it launches April 17, 2007 at 9pm, the first major, regularly- scheduled programming dedicated entirely to the environment.
Consisting of three hours a week, The Green will present original series and documentary premieres about the earth’s ecology and concepts of “green” living. It mixes information and entertainment, with an emphasis on information, practical advice and community building say station chiefs.
Leading off each edition at 9:00pm is the original program “Big Ideas for a Small Planet,” a documentary series presenting the forward- thinking designers, products and processes that are on the leading edge of a new green world. Each episode revolves around a different green theme as it spotlights a specific innovator or innovation that has the potential to transform our everyday lives. The individuals profiled range from scientists to fashion and product designers, entrepreneurs to first-time inventors. The series also features a cast of recurring expert commentators, including activists, scientists, writers, and environmental personalities who provide the big-picture context to each week’s stories.
Each episode of “Big Ideas for a Small Planet” is paired with a thematically complimentary documentary premiere. For example, the debut episode of “Big Ideas for a Small Planet” explores alternative fuel sources, and is followed by the television premiere of Crude Awakening – The Oil Crash, a look at the past, present and future of the world’s oil reserves.
The initial schedule for THE GREEN is as follows:
“Big Ideas for a Small Planet: Fuel” – Joel Woolf, alternative-fuel enthusiast and inventor of Veg Powered Systems, drag races his truck with the vegetable oil from a fried-chicken tailgate party, while a one-woman, bio- diesel PR campaign in Prada shoes hooks up clients with diesel cars around the country, and an Indy 500 driver tests his Team Ethanol car at Daytona.
A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash – Directed by Basil Gelpke, Ray McCormack. An absorbing, lucid and lively primer on the past, present and future – such as it is – of oil, the non-renewable resource that changed the nature of everything from agriculture to manufacturing to war. The filmmakers illustrate their story in fresh and revealing ways, interweaving a host of expert interviews with archival elements including news footage and sprightly cartoons extolling the wonders of oil. At the heart of the film lies an urgent question: if the first half of the age of oil is now ending, as many believe, what will happen in the second half, when oil supplies dwindle to zero?
“Big Ideas for a Small Planet: Build” – A visionary architect works with clients building their first “green” home; “green” architecture and amenities are brought to low-income neighborhoods, and a forward-thinking designer with a PhD from MIT demonstrates his real-life tree house made of growing tree trunks grafted together.
Waste = Food – Directed by Rob van Hattum. Van Hattum delivers an exciting introduction to the work of American architect/designer William McDonough and German ecological chemist Michael Braungart, who may well be starting a new industrial revolution. Taking their cue from nature’s conversion of animal waste into plant nutrients and vice versa, McDonough and Braungaut have created a “cradle-to-cradle” protocol in which every product, once discarded, is somehow usable – whether it becomes another product or breaks down into non-toxic “food” for the biosphere or the technosphere. Waste = Food shows their principles at work in a host of guises, from the revamped Ford Motors production facility in Detroit, to a line of recycled (and recyclable) shoes at Nike, to a model village under construction in China.
“Big Ideas for a Small Planet: Cities” – A Portland real estate developer is the pioneering force behind turning a polluted brown field into a flourishing sustainable community; years of research, engineering design, and money will be put to the test when an energy innovator submerges the first two underwater turbines in New York City’s East river; and a band of guerilla gardeners sneak around in the middle of the night to beautify blighted urban plots of unused land with local plants and flowers for the community to enjoy.
Crapshoot: The Gamble with Our Wastes – Directed by Jeff McKay. This Canadian documentary examines the origins and evolution of the sewer, that marvel of engineering that flushes away our daily wastes, out of sight and out of mind. But while the sewers of classical Rome helped define a civilization, today’s sewers carry heavy metals, chemicals, solvents and other materials the Romans could scarcely imagine. Traveling through Canada, Sweden, the United States and India, McKay reveals how these potentially toxic wastes can end up back where they started, above ground, on farms and in the food chain. The film looks at how different communities have responded to mounting evidence of health risks posed by sewer sludge, and interviews the engineers, activists and ordinary citizens who advocate a new approach to waste disposal.
“Big Ideas for a Small Planet: Wear” – Couture designer Linda Loudermilk creates luxurious high-fashion clothes out of eco-friendly fabrics made from sustainable sources including seaweed and bamboo; innovative sportswear manufacturer Patagonia recycles used soda bottles, second quality fabrics and worn out garments into polyester fibers to produce many of its clothes; an innovative clothing designer and entrepreneur convinces people to re-use old clothes in radically new ways.
Art from the Arctic – Directed by David Hinton. From 2003-2005, British artist/filmmaker David Buckland organized three sailing expeditions to the High Arctic as part of his Cape Farewell project, a series of collaborations between artists, educators and scientists designed to create public awareness of global climate change. Hinton’s film captures those expeditions, immersing us in the Arctic’s otherworldly sights, sounds and silences as Buckland and his companions explore the dramatic landscape. Some, like sculptor Antony Gormley, musician/sound artist Max Eastley, and photographer Alex Hartley, begin creating work virtually on the spot; others, like writer Ian McEwan and sculptor Rachel Whiteread, quietly absorb their surroundings and the evidence of climate change not yet knowing how it will fuel their art.
THE GREEN will also present original interstitial series, with individual segments airing throughout the three-hour block. The interstitial series include:
“Eco-Biz”(TM) – CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo hosts these segments exploring financial aspects of environmental innovation in business. Segments will profile individuals who are visionary in strategy and have worked to establish more environmentally sustainable policies, innovative eco-friendly business tactics, and the subsequent impact to the bottom line. NBC News will produce these pieces for Sundance Channel.
“The Ecoists”(TM) – Some of today’s most active and recognizable environmental activists share ideas, information and enthusiasm about their cause of choice. Participating talent includes Robert Kennedy Jr., Paul Newman, Daryl Hannah, Willie Nelson, Laird Hamilton, Gabby Reese, Tim Robbins, and Josh Lucas. “The Ecoists” is produced by Kontent Real.
“Global Focus: The New Environmentalists” – Fast-paced segments hosted by Robert Redford tell the stories of ordinary individuals who are defending the environment and making a difference. The first installments span six continents to tell the stories of six men and women, including: Silas Siakor of the Sustainable Development Institute in Liberia, who risked his life to expose the link between his country’s brutal civil war and the unchecked logging of Liberia’s forests; Olya Melen, a young environmental lawyer who took on the Ukrainian government to halt its potentially catastrophic plans for the Danube River; and Craig E. Williams, a Vietnam veteran and former cabinetmaker in Kentucky who led the fight against a Pentagon program to incinerate stockpiles of chemical weapons stored near residential communities around the country. The “Global Focus: The New Enviromentalists” segments were produced by John Antonelli.
The hosts of THE GREEN are Simran Sethi and Majora Carter. Sethi is an award-winning journalist who heads up the Video and Audio divisions of TreeHugger.com, the largest pure environmental site on the internet. She produced and anchored the news for MTV Asia, co-created the MTV India news division, and developed programming for the BBC through her independent production company SHE TV. Simran also wrote and hosted “Ethical Markets,” the first national program reporting on corporate social responsibility and sustainable business practices that aired on PBS, and is a contributing author of the companion book Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy. Simran began her television career at MTV News in the United States, where she worked on award-winning productions including “Hate Rock,” “Sex in the 90’s” and “Help Not Wanted.” She holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and a BA in Sociology and Women’s Studies from Smith College.
Majora Carter is an award-winning community activist/organizer and life- long resident of the Hunts Point community in the South Bronx. She is the founder and executive director of Sustainable South Bronx, a community organization dedicated to the implementation of sustainable development projects for the South Bronx that are informed by the needs of community and values of environmental justice. She has conceived and raised funds for key community projects including the South Bronx Greenway, a bicycle/pedestrian greenway along the South Bronx River, and the Hunts Point Riverside Park, the first South Bronx waterfront park in 60 years. Carter has received numerous honors for her work, including the 2007 NYU Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award, the 2006 Lewis Rudin Award for Public Service and the 2002 Union Square Award from the Fund for the City of New York. She was named a 2005 Fellow of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Majora is a graduate of PS 48, IS 74, the Bronx High School of Science, Wesleyan University (BA) and New York University (MFA).
Under the creative direction of Robert Redford, Sundance Channel is the television channel we most admire. Sundance Channel operates independently of the non-profit Sundance Institute and the Sundance Film Festival, but shares the overall Sundance mission of encouraging artistic freedom of expression. Sundance Channel’s website address is www.sundancechannel.com .
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