The Green List at Sundance 2012

Want to be the first to check out the latest environmental films this year? Sierra Club Green Home is covering them for you at Sundance Film Festival 2012. Here is a list of the environmental films set to debut at Sundance this week. Be sure to read all our movie reviews on our homepage, Sierra Club Green Home.Com.


When National Geographic photographer James Balog asked, “How can one take a picture of climate change?” his attention was immediately drawn to ice. Soon he was asked to do a cover story on glaciers that became the most popular and well-read piece in the magazine during the last five years. But for Balog, that story marked the beginning of a much larger and longer-term project that would reach epic proportions.

In this breathtakingly beautiful documentary, filmmaker Jeff Orlowski follows the indomitable photographer as he brings to life the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS)—a massive photography project that placed 30 cameras across three continents to gather visual evidence of the Earth’s melting ice. Chasing Ice tells the story of a visionary artist who, in facing his own mortality, bequeaths the magic of photography and the adventure of the expedition to a new generation and captures the most visible sign of climate change on the planet today. – S.F.


TimeDateEvent CodeVenueCityAvailability
8:30 pm1/23/2012CHASI23LNLibrary Center TheatrePark CityWaitlist Only
11:15 am1/24/2012CHASI24MDMARCPark CityBox Office Only
9:00 pm1/25/2012CHASI25INSalt Lake City LibrarySalt Lake CityWaitlist Only
9:00 am1/27/2012CHASI27TMTemple TheatrePark CityWaitlist Only
3:15 pm1/28/2012CHASI28RARedstone Cinema 8Park CityWaitlist Only



In the twenty-first century, the idea that we are all connected is almost a cliché, though it is little understood and rarely acted upon. One twentieth-century social movement understood this concept at its core. It is, in the eyes of many, the most important ever: the environmental movement. It seeks nothing less than saving the planet from its most destructive force—humanity.


TimeDateEvent CodeVenueCityAvailability
5:15 pm1/23/2012FIERC23MEMARCPark CityWaitlist Only
11:30 am1/24/2012FIERC24TDTemple TheatrePark CityBox Office Only
9:00 pm1/25/2012FIERC25SNScreening RoomSundance ResortWaitlist Only
6:00 pm1/26/2012FIERC26BEBroadway Centre Cinema 6Salt Lake CityWaitlist Only
6:00 pm1/28/2012FIERC28TETemple TheatrePark CityWaitlist Only



Based on Kelly McMasters’s memoir about growing up in a nuclear-reactor community, this stirring film illustrates the dire health consequences for many residents in Shirley, her Long Island hometown. Yet despite the known risks of utilizing nuclear power, our country’s rapidly increasing energy needs are fueling a nuclear renaissance.


TimeDateEvent CodeVenueCityAvailability
9:00 pm1/23/2012ATOMI23TNTemple TheatrePark CityWaitlist Only
2:30 pm1/24/2012ATOMI24LALibrary Center TheatrePark CityBox Office Only
3:30 pm1/26/2012ATOMI26RARedstone Cinema 8Park CityWaitlist Only
6:45 pm1/27/2012ATOMI27BEBroadway Centre Cinema 3Salt Lake CityWaitlist Only
8:30 am1/28/2012ATOMI28PMProspector Square TheatrePark CityWaitlist Only


Moving the Masses

What is a movement made of? We live in an age when, for the first time in history, millions of people are engaged in movements urging equity and justice. From civil rights to the environment to the recent Occupy initiative, strides and setbacks have marked our history. JoinLois Gibbs (subject of A Fierce Green Fire), Richard Kim(executive editor of The Nation), Peter Staley (subject of How to Survive a Plague), and Naomi Wolf (author and political activist) as we delve into the evolving nature of making change.


TimeDateEvent CodeVenueCityAvailability
1:00 pm1/26/2012No Ticket RequiredFilmmaker LodgePark CityNo Ticket Required

New Frontier Shorts

The New Frontier short film program stretches the possibilities of moving pictures, providing a visceral experience for our minds and souls. Through controlled minimalism, evocative landscapes, and sonic panoramas, we find the ability to see through the blurry lines of our physical and political worlds. Starting with the global and moving to the microscopic, we get closer to the issues of our times to understand and deal with them. We are all made of the same stardust, and keeping that fact close to our hearts may help us act respectfully with one other.


TimeDateEvent CodeVenueCityAvailability
4:00 pm1/23/2012FRONS23RARedstone Cinema 7Park CityWaitlist Only
9:00 pm1/24/2012FRONS24WNTower TheatreSalt Lake CityBox Office Only
5:30 pm1/25/2012FRONS25PEProspector Square TheatrePark CityWaitlist Only
6:15 pm1/28/2012FRONS282EHoliday Village Cinema 2Park CityWaitlist Only

Bear 71

Jeremy Mendes and Leanne Allison’s poignant interactive documentary about a bear in the Canadian Rockies illuminates the way humans engage with wildlife in the age of networks, satellites, and digital surveillance. Audiences from around the world can use their smartphones to become part of an interactive forest environment rich with bears, cougars, sheep, deer, and people as they follow an emotional story of a grizzly bear tagged and monitored by Banff National Park rangers.


TimeDateEvent CodeVenueCityAvailability
8:00 pm1/20/2012NFBEA20NENew Frontier MicrocinemaPark CityWaitlist Only



In April 2009, Swedish filmmakers Fredrik Gertten and Margarete Jangård learned that the world premiere of BANANAS!*—their documentary about a lawsuit against the Dole Food Company—would take place at a major film festival in Los Angeles. Within weeks, they were embroiled in a legal and public-relations battle to save their premiere, their film, their reputations, and their freedom of speech.

While censorship is, sadly, nothing new, its insidious power gains startling immediacy by playing out in front of Gertten’s camera. The filmmakers find themselves painted as villains due to Dole’s shrewd PR moves—even before their film has been screened. Gertten takes the offensive, filing a countersuit and media campaign of his own to confront Dole’s overgrown-schoolyard-bully tactics.

As demonstrated over the past several months in actions held around the globe, corporations are being taken to task for their disproportionate political and financial influence. BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!* is a telling case study of the power of individuals to fight back.
– B.T.


TimeDateEvent CodeVenueCityAvailability
8:30 pm1/20/2012BIGBO20PNProspector Square TheatrePark CityWaitlist Only
9:45 pm1/21/2012BIGBO21BNBroadway Centre Cinema 3Salt Lake CityWaitlist Only
1:00 pm1/22/2012BIGBO22RDRedstone Cinema 7Park CityWaitlist Only
9:00 am1/26/2012BIGBO26TMTemple TheatrePark CityWaitlist Only
12:15 pm1/27/2012BIGBO272DHoliday Village Cinema 2Park CityWaitlist Only


The Landfill

Trash becomes energy at a small New York landfill, where people are thinking differently about garbage.


TimeDateEvent CodeVenueCityAvailability
6:00 pm1/20/2012PAYBA20YEYarrow Hotel TheatrePark CityWaitlist Only
Noon1/22/2012PAYBA22BDBroadway Centre Cinema 6Salt Lake CityAvailable
3:30 pm1/23/2012PAYBA23RARedstone Cinema 8Park CityWaitlist Only
6:00 pm1/25/2012PAYBA25TETemple TheatrePark CityWaitlist Only
3:15 pm1/27/2012PAYBA272AHoliday Village Cinema 2Park CityWaitlist Only


Beasts of the Southern Wild

Hushpuppy, an intrepid six-year-old girl, lives with her father, Wink, in “the Bathtub,” a southern Delta community at the edge of the world. Wink’s tough love prepares her for the unraveling of the universe; for a time when he’s no longer there to protect her. When Wink contracts a mysterious illness, nature flies out of whack—temperatures rise, and the ice caps melt, unleashing an army of prehistoric creatures called aurochs. With the waters rising, the aurochs coming, and Wink’s health fading, Hushpuppy goes in search of her lost mother.

Hushpuppy is not just the film’s heroine; she’s its soul. Beasts of the Southern Wild exists entirely in its own universe: mythological, anthropological, folkloric, and apocalyptic. Benh Zeitlin’s first feature (a Sundance Institute Feature Film Program project) employs a cast of nonactors—reflecting its grassroots production—to fiercely portray the bond between father and daughter in a world where only the strong survive. Standing defiantly at the end of the world, Hushpuppy affirms the dignity of telling their own story: that they were once there. . . – J.N.


TimeDateEvent CodeVenueCityAvailability
12:15 pm1/20/2012BEAST20CDEccles TheatrePark CityWaitlist Only
9:30 pm1/21/2012BEAST21RNRedstone Cinema 8Park CityWaitlist Only
3:30 pm1/22/2012BEAST22GARose Wagner Performing Arts CenterSalt Lake CityWaitlist Only
3:00 pm1/23/2012BEAST23SAScreening RoomSundance ResortWaitlist Only
8:30 pm1/24/2012BEAST24MNMARCPark CityWaitlist Only
12:00 pm1/26/2012BEAST26EDEgyptian TheatrePark CityWaitlist Only


Valley of Saints

Widely considered to be the crown jewel of Kashmir, Dal Lake is a sprawling aquatic community where erupting political violence often distracts from the natural beauty. Gulzar, a young, working-class boatman, plans to skip town with his best friend in search of a better life, but a weeklong military curfew derails their departure. Forced to wait it out, Gulzar takes a job assisting a pretty scientist named Asifa. As they navigate the floating landscape, collecting water samples for an environmental study, an unlikely relationship blossoms between the two. When Asifa’s research reveals harmful pollutants, Gulzar realizes that the ecology of the lake and an entire way of life face an alarming threat, and everything in his own life begins to take on a new hue.

Lush cinematography heightens the region’s visual splendor in this enlightening feature debut from Musa Syeed. Intricately weaving contemporary issues with traditional culture and ancient myths,Valley of Saints is a vibrant, lyrical film about finding one’s path home in a changing world.
– C.D.


TimeDateEvent CodeVenueCityAvailability
6:00 pm1/23/2012VALLE23YEYarrow Hotel TheatrePark CityWaitlist Only
12:00 pm1/25/2012VALLE25EDEgyptian TheatrePark CityWaitlist Only
12:30 pm1/26/2012VALLE26RDRedstone Cinema 8Park CityWaitlist Only
9:45 pm1/26/2012VALLE26BNBroadway Centre Cinema 3Salt Lake CityAvailable
10:00 am1/27/2012VALLE274MHoliday Village Cinema 4Park CityWaitlist Only

Celebrating Stories of Change

Global issues demand innovative solutions, and documentary film is increasingly showcasing the unprecedented efforts of social-issue change makers around the world. At this special discussion event celebrating the five-year partnership between Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and the Skoll Foundation, Skoll President and CEO Sally Osberg moderates a thought-provoking dialogue among award-winning filmmakers—including clips from their work—and innovators who are impacting millions. Invited panelists include Joia Mukherjee (chief medical officer at Partners in Health), Kief Davidson (Untitled Global Health Documentary),Jehane Noujaim (Control Room), and Bunker Roy (founder of Barefoot College).


TimeDateEvent CodeVenueCityAvailability
3:00 pm1/24/2012PATWO 24EAEgyptian TheatrePark CityWaitlist Only



Detroit’s story has encapsulated the iconic narrative of America over the last century— the Great Migration of African Americans escaping Jim Crow; the rise of manufacturing and the middle class; the love affair with automobiles; the flowering of the American dream; and now . . . the collapse of the economy and the fading American mythos.

With its vivid, painterly palette and haunting score, DETROPIAsculpts a dreamlike collage of a grand city teetering on the brink of dissolution. As houses are demolished by the thousands, automobile-company wages plummet, institutions crumble, and tourists gawk at the “charming decay,” the film’s vibrant, gutsy characters glow and erupt like flames from the ashes. These soulful pragmatists and stalwart philosophers strive to make ends meet and make sense of it all, refusing to abandon hope or resistance. Their grit and pluck embody the spirit of the Motor City as it struggles to survive postindustrial America and begins to envision a radically different future. – C.L.


TimeDateEvent CodeVenueCityAvailability
Noon1/21/2012DETRO21TDTemple TheatrePark CityWaitlist Only
5:15 pm1/22/2012DETRO22MEMARCPark CityWaitlist Only
9:00 pm1/23/2012DETRO23SNScreening RoomSundance ResortWaitlist Only
8:30 am1/25/2012DETRO25LMLibrary Center TheatrePark CityWaitlist Only
3:30 pm1/27/2012DETRO27RARedstone Cinema 8Park CityWaitlist Only
12:00 pm1/28/2012DETRO28IDSalt Lake City LibrarySalt Lake CityWaitlist Only


I am a 66-year cicada. There was a big earthquake. There was a big tsunami. There also was a big accident.


TimeDateEvent CodeVenueCityAvailability
Noon1/21/2012ANIMA21YDYarrow Hotel TheatrePark CityWaitlist Only
12:30 pm1/23/2012ANIMA23RDRedstone Cinema 8Park CityWaitlist Only
6:00 pm1/27/2012ANIMA27BEBroadway Centre Cinema 6Salt Lake CityWaitlist Only
7:00 pm1/28/2012ANIMA284EHoliday Village Cinema 4Park CityWaitlist Only


Sundance 2011 Environmental Films 

Curious about the environmental films from last year’s film festival? Sierra Club Green Home compiled a list of the best environmental films from 2011.

The Last Mountain

The Last Mountain takes a look at coal/mountaintop removal mining. See what SCGH’s own Jennifer Schwab has to say about the movie, Sundance Explores the Last Mountain.

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front

Marshall Curry’s documentary tells a timely story of political action and environmental beliefs at loggerheads. His reconstruction of the recent history and unraveling of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) is a fascinating exploration of a modern revolutionary movement and its efficacy. Fusing fervent concerns about ecological imbalance and capitalism run amok, ELF members and sleeper cells employed economic sabotage by destroying facilities involved in deforestation to remove the profit potential from companies wreaking environmental destruction.

Focusing on Oregon-based activist Daniel McGowan, Curry relates the tale of a mild-mannered, middle-class citizen driven to extremes and brought to trial on charges of terrorism for his participation in ELF-related arson plots. Detailing activists’ past disillusionment with public protest—and the police brutality and inertia that often followed—the film poses difficult questions about the possibility of effecting change from either within or without the system and examines the changed stakes for revolutionaries today in a world fixated on branding all dissenters as terrorists.

The Woods

We were promised change, but it never came. Our cities crumbled around us. Our streets ran red with Hawaiian Punch. Our country was no longer our own. Under Daniel’s guidance and leadership, we agreed to take action into our own hands. We preset our DVRs and ventured out of the city limits united. In the woods, we will be safe. In the woods, we will start anew.

This satirical attack on young, modern, globally conscious citizens tells the story of eight grown-up American children creating utopian society as best they can. With gorgeous Super 16 footage and an eclectic soundtrack featuring Dirty Projectors, Sun Araw, and Lucky Dragons, filmmaker Matthew Lessner playfully subverts counterculture films of the seventies while questioning the shortcomings of his own complacent generation. In a world where new technologies merely distract us from reality, the greatest revolution can only begin by leaving everything behind.

Connected: An Autobiography of Love, Death and Technology 

With wonderful heart and an impressive sense of scale, Tiffany Shlain’s vibrant and insightful documentary, Connected, explores the visible and invisible connections linking major issues of our time—the environment, consumption, population growth, technology, human rights, the global economy—while searching for her place in the world during a transformative time in her life. Employing a splendidly imaginative combination of animation and archival footage, plus several surprises, Shlain constructs a chronological tour of Western modernization through the work of her late father, Leonard Shlain, a brain surgeon and best-selling author of Art and Physics and The Alphabet Versus the Goddess.

With humor and irony, the Shlain family life merges with philosophy to create both a personal portrait and a proposal for ways we can move forward as a civilization. Connected illuminates the beauty and tragedy of human endeavor while boldly championing the importance of personal connectedness for understanding and coping with today’s global conditions.


For related articles, see:
Sundance Explores the Last Mountain


Movie Summaries provided by Sundance Film Festival


  1. Stephaine June 28, 2012
  2. Katherina December 24, 2012
  3. Terence April 5, 2013

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