One-day green film screening becomes a week-long eco-fest

DeKALB – People of all ages are invited to celebrate Earth Week at the third annual Green Lens Environmental Film Festival from April 20 to 25. The festival offers film screenings, outdoor adventures, kids’ crafts, DIY presentations and a Green Night Out in downtown DeKalb to help people have fun while learning about the environment.

Green Lens is presented by Northern Illinois University’s Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability, and Energy (ESE) and the Division of Outreach, Engagement, and Information Technologies. A grant from the DeKalb County Community Foundation allowed the festival to expand from a one-day film screening to a six-day event.

“The switch to a film competition allows us to showcase more local and regional talent,” said Melissa Burlingame, program coordinator for ESE. “Community members will have a chance to see films with new voices and perspectives that they can’t see anywhere else.”

Judges selected two narratives, four documentaries and two student films to be screened at the festival. The theme is, “Our Planet in Focus.”

The public can watch the films from 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday, April 21, at the Egyptian Theatre, 135 N. Second St. in DeKalb. Tickets are $5, and proceeds support future festivals. Viewers can also vote for the Audience Choice Award.

The film fest will continue at NIU’s Montgomery Hall Auditorium with special presentations of three feature-length documentary films. After each screening, the filmmakers will participate in live Q&A sessions. These screenings are free and open to the public.

“Everglades of the North” will be screened at 7 p.m. Monday, April 22. This documentary explores the history of the Kankakee marsh, an extraordinary home for everything from water birds to civil war deserters and asks why the marsh vanished and what we can do to bring it back. “My Village, My Lobster” will be shown at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 23. This documentary focuses on lobster fishing in Nicaragua. “Turtle Derby” will be shown at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 24. This documentary takes a light-hearted look at kids who are training turtles for an annual turtle race. When some of those turtles end up on the endangered species list, the town must decide whether tradition trumps turtle protection.

On Thursday, April 25, the Earth Week celebration will conclude with a Green Night Out and a Best of the Fest Screening from 5 to 8 p.m. The community is invited for food and drink specials, mini-talks, raffles, art exhibits and workshops at businesses throughout downtown, including Tapa La Luna, Eduardos and the Smalltown Skateshop. At 8 p.m., attendees can return to the Egyptian Theatre for a “Best of the Fest” screening of the winning films from each category and Audience Choice. Tickets for Best of the Fest are $5.

On Saturday, April 20, Green Lens is hosting free outdoor adventures for families at Lions Park at 9 a.m., a STEM Cafe on tourism and water quality at the Lincoln Inn at 1 p.m. and a screening of the 1972 film “The Lorax” and a craft party at the YMCA at 2 p.m.

The festival will also host a free green literacy day and book giveaway at DeKalb Public Library on Tuesday, April 23. Young children can participate in story time and crafts at 9:30 a.m. Students in kindergarten through eighth grade can make crafts from found and recycled materials at 4 p.m.

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