Arts & Entertainment, Film, and Sustainability

Hollywood's 'Promised Land' kicks off Grand Rapids film series

December 12, 2012
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Hollywood film 'Promised Land' premieres in Grand Rapids
“Promised Land” stars Oscar-winner Matt Damon, Frances McDormand and John Krasinski. Photo via fb.com

The West Michigan premiere of the new film “Promised Land,” starring Matt Damon and directed by Gus Van Sant, will kick off the West Michigan Environmental Action Council’s 2013 film series.

Following a successful first year, WMEAC has lined up the feature film and four documentaries focused on environmental issues that pertain to the West Michigan community. It has also moved its screening location to the Grand Rapids Public Museum, which will have food, drinks and alcohol for sale at each showing.

“Promised Land,” however, will play at Celebration Cinema! North on Friday, Jan. 4, at 7:30 p.m. According to the film summary, “Damon is a corporate salesperson who visits a rural town in an attempt to buy drilling rights from the local residents. This film sheds light on the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ for natural gas and its consequences on the environment and local economies.”

Fracking is a hotly debated issue right now, because it is a growing industry that environmentalists say could have a disastrous impact.

“This is very important for Michigan right now, because we are selling our land to be exploited for natural gas, and there is a push to go in that direction,” said Jennifer Shaneberger, WMEAC events coordinator. “We want the truth to be out there about the technique that’s used and how dangerous that can be to our water supply.”

The hydraulic-fracturing process includes “steps to protect water supplies” such as steel casing and cement barriers throughout the deep wells and is regulated in Michigan, according to FracFocus.org. The site is a “chemical disclosure registry” that currently lists some 33,000 wells and is managed by the Ground Water Protection Council and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.

Shaneberger said the film series is focused on sharing environmental issues that might not seem local but actually could have a regional impact. She also said each film is selected based on current efforts WMEAC is engaged in and issues the organization sees coming from the political arena.

“We really just want to educate West Michigan communities about environmental issues that are affecting us locally,” she said. “Sometimes with these documentaries you could think, ‘Oh, that’s not here in GR — that doesn’t affect West Michigan,’ but actually it does, and we want to show you exactly how.”

Following each film a panel of experts will further discuss the issue and audience members will have the opportunity to ask questions about the topic.

Each month’s film theme ties into additional activities WMEAC will be conducting during the same month. The themes are include: fracking, community revitalization through urban farming, worldwide impacts of the industrial agricultural system, water pollution and green technology to fight global climate change.

The WMEAC film series lineup is below:

  • "Urban Roots": Tuesday, Feb. 5, 6-9 p.m.
  • "Seeds of Freedom": Tuesday, March 5, 6-9 p.m.
  • "The Last Mountain": Tuesday, April 9, 6-9 p.m.
  • "Power Surge": Tuesday, May 7, 6-9 p.m.

Regular theater admission cost will apply to the “Promised Land” showing, but admission to GRPM showings is a suggested $5 donation.

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