By David Baldwin
The EarthX Film Festival wraps up today with its last day of virtual screenings. The festival’s in-person portion ran from May 12-15 in Dallas, Texas and virtual screenings ran from May 16-23. The festival’s mission is:
“…to bring awareness of the environmental crisis in order to create sincere action on both an individual and communal scale; to inspire local and global change on how we as humans affect our home planet and our fellow beings. We aim to include Texas, and the Southwest, in the conversation on climate change through compassionate, positive, truthful storytelling.”
While I was not in the ground in Dallas, I did have the opportunity to view two of the bigger titles at the festival: Fire of Love and We Feed People.
I first saw Fire of Love at the Sundance Film Festival back in January and it blew me away with its haunting and beautiful images captured by Volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft. The pair were the foremost authorities on volcanoes, and would travel the world to study and film them as they unleashed their mighty power. The film is comprised mainly of the reels the pair shot on location of some rather deadly volcanoes, as well as news reel footage of the pair being interviewed on television. Narrated by filmmaker Miranda July, Fire of Love is absolutely stunning to watch unfold. The intensity and power of the images the Kraffts were able to capture, alongside July’s soft, tender descriptions is easily one of the highlights of an already stellar year for documentaries. The intimacy and raw energy Director Sara Dosa is able to produce here is truly wonderful, and the fact that the film ends on a heartbreaking note only makes the experience of watching this couple do what they love to do is just as intimate as it is bittersweet. You will laugh, you will cry, and you will be astonished by the footage Dosa and her team were able to cull together from the many journeys the Kraffts took. The film does not have a release date just yet, but keep an eye out for it when the year-end lists start being released.
We Feed People is the latest documentary from multi-hyphenate Oscar-winner Ron Howard. It profiles Celebrity Chef José Andrés and his non-profit World Central Kitchen as they visit various countries and bring food to the people affected by climate disasters. Initially the film starts off as a bit of a commercial for the organization and for Andrés himself, before it morphs into a timely discussion and portrait of a devoted group of individuals and volunteers doing everything they can to feed those who are displaced by the likes of hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and COVID-19. The lengths the chef (or cook as he calls himself) and the other members of WCK go to in order to achieve their goal is alternatively inspiring and horrifying to watch, not just because of the conditions of the kitchens they have to transform in order to prepare food in but their battles with the environment in order to get the food to the people who need it (not to mention the struggles they have with getting their hands on the food itself!). The film opens with their truck toppling over during a flood, and only gets scarier from there. While Andrés is certainly an entertaining personality and the harrowing footage in this documentary leaves a lasting impact, I feel like it could have gone a bit deeper on his home life and on the wife and children he leaves behind every time he travels with WCK. He mentions more than once that he has regrets and knows he is not spending enough time with them, but the film barely digs into that space. You can find out for yourself when the film becomes available to stream this Friday on Disney+.