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What on Earth?
by Mary Nyiri

Hamburg was chosen as European Green Capital 2011 by the European Commission so Filmfest Hamburg featured ten documentary films concerning environmental issues in the section Three Colors Green (Drei Farben Grün) in cooperation with the Behörde für Stadtentwickling und Umwelt. Have you heard about bees disappearing by the thousands? What about entire communities finding their homelands under water? Are all those pesticides and fertilizers really necessary to grow crops or raise yields? Is a new manufacturing plant really progress for a small town? Do we need crosswalks and sidewalks in our cities since everyone drives everywhere anyway? The films in this section provide fertile fodder for thoughts on how the human race affects Mother Earth and just what on earth is happening to our planet.

Millions of honey bees have disappeared from their hives, never to return. Beekeepers have returned to where they left hives to pollinate fruit trees or other plants and found every hive abandoned resulting in financial loss and in some cases the emotional devastation of potentially losing the family business. This mysterious kill, known as Colony Collapse Disorder, has hit more than half of the beekeepers across the United States and could impact food yields.

Carter Gunn and Ross McDonnell capture the essence of beekeeping by following several interesting and at times entertaining beekeepers. David Mendes trucks hives across the U.S. for seasonal pollinations. Lance and Victor Seppi rent their bee hives to almond growers. Large or small, everyone in the beekeeping community is concerned about the collapse crisis. Mendes decides that the beekeepers must organize and demand help to identify the cause of the collapses. New pesticides are suspected. The Seppis renegotiate beehive rental contracts to try and survive the double devastation of Colony Collapse Disorder and a national economic collapse. This fascinating film reveals where and how they work and a bit about how they live, with some down home philosophy. Lance Seppi sums up beekeeping so: “It’s about taking care of the hives so that they can take care of you.” Maybe there is a lesson there that also applies to Mother Earth that the rest of us need to learn. (MW) (See page  .)

A Different Path
This documentary portrays Richard Dyksterhuis, Cleta Hughes and Michael Luis Johnson who deal with the unpleasant aspects of modern automobile-centric traffic planning in their own special ways. Need a sidewalk in front of your building? Convince the city government to build one. Still waiting for those bike lanes? Paint them on the streets yourself.
Fed up with traffic jams? Simply canoe to work - if you can.

It’s refreshing to see the people in the movie overcome some of the problems they’re confronted with in their respective urban environments – in Seattle, Toronto and New York. Consequently, I would have liked more information on the problems and possible solutions instead of having to listen to commonplace statements like, “Many drops become an ocean” or watching one of the activists shave. All in all, I found there were too many scenes which didn\'t seem meaningful in the context of the movie. The shaky camera wasn’t exactly viewer-friendly either.