By Sean Boelman
Regional festivals are awesome, especially those that focus on a specific theme and highlight films that support that message. Held in Dallas, TX, the EarthX Film Festival returns for a 2022 edition with the theme of “A Celebration of the Outdoors”. With a lineup encompassing everything from festival favorites to some exciting premieres from acclaimed filmmakers, this is an event not to miss.
Opening the festival is Ben Masters’s (The River and the Wall) new film, Deep in the Heart. Narrated by Academy Award-winner and iconic Texan Matthew McConaughey, this is the perfect local interest film to open a festival like this. Exploring the stories of several species of wildlife native to the ecosystems of Texas, this is the type of gorgeous nature documentary that just demands to be seen on the big screen. You will be in absolute awe of the natural beauty you see on screen.
Another high-profile film playing the festival is Rachel Lears’s To the End. The filmmaker’s follow-up to the acclaimed Knock Down the House, Lears is again following Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (as well as two other subjects), this time as they fight for the Green New Deal and an overall shift in the way climate politics are done. It’s a very angry, timely film, and one that you will definitely want to see to ensure that you are part of the conversation.
For those looking to take a chance on something more independent, check out Tigre Gente, directed by Elizabeth Unger. Telling the story of a Bolivian park ranger and a Hong Kong journalist who are investigating the illegal jaguar trade, the film does a great job of exploring this issue that you might not have known is much of an issue in the first place.
Another hidden gem at the fest is Newtok, a documentary that explores an Alaskan community that is under threat of ending because of climate change. It’s a very different perspective of the climate crisis than you’ve probably ever seen before. Instead of inundating the audience with facts, directors Andrew Burton and Michael Kirby Smith show us the very real, human consequence of this ecological crisis, and it’s powerful.
For the closing night of the festival, attendees can see the newest film from acclaimed director Stacy Peralta (Dogtown and Z-Boys), The Yin and Yang of Gerry Lopez. This biography of surfing legend Gerry Lopez is one of the more fun films to see in this year’s lineup — a nice break from some of the darker themes that many of the film’s in the festival cover.
Other highlights in the lineup include Ron Howard’s We Feed People, Alex Pritz’s The Territory, and Sara Dosa’s Fire of Love, all films which premiered at the major festivals earlier this year to great acclaim. The festival aims to showcase the amazing planet we live on and the people who are trying to make a difference for the world, and all of these films do just that.
The EarthX Film Festival runs from May 12-15.
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