Films With Green Theme Underscore College’s Mission


By Marianna Levine

With movies ranging in subject from butterflies and turtles to building in an eco-friendly way, Stony Brook Southampton’s First Annual Green Film Series was started as a way to further celebrate and communicate the campus’s focus on sustainability. It features a free film about environmental sustainability each Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. and was  the brainchild of interim Dean Martin Schoonen, and the Avram Theater’s manager Leonard Ziemkiewicz. 

For the past two years Stony Brook Southampton has billed itself as a “green campus” and even offers a major in sustainability. In fact, according to Mr. Ziemkiewicz, it is one of the first colleges in the country to offer such an academic focus. 

The film series’ primary goal, according to the school’s media relations manager Darren Johnson, is to get the community, along with students and faculty, involved in serious and lively discussions about the varying aspects of sustainability and how it impacts everyday lives. 

The word “sustainability” has become a popular catchall phrase recently, but in this case it refers primarily to the idea that the Earth’s resources should be replenished at the same rate as they are used. However with today’s economic and environmental complexity one cannot just study ecology without bringing in economic and social issues.  Therefore the film series covers a number of topics including this week’s documentary, “Buyer be Fair,” a film that examines fair trade certification throughout the world.  Another film shown on  March 19th, “Black Diamond” explores all aspects of the diamond trade from the miners to the jewelry dealers.

After each viewing, the college hosts a discussion about the featured topic with one or two of Stony Brook Southampton’s teachers. Faculty members Heather Macadam, a writer, and Dr. Arlene Cassidy, the director of sustainable studies, will host this week’s discussion. 

“Sometimes the discussions last longer than the movie,” Mr. Johnson relates.  He notes that most of the films are just about an hour in length. Mr. Ziemkiewicz has been told that the students who attend the screenings bring the discussions into the classroom soon thereafter. 

However he notes, the crowds haven’t been entirely made up of students and faculty.

“We get a good mix of students, professors, and the general public attending each screening,” said Mr. Johnson. Which is exactly what the series’ founders were hoping would happen. Mr. Ziemkiewicz is hopeful the series will become an annual event, and stresses that he “really wants to get the local community involved in the discussion.”

Other upcoming films include, “The Monarch, A Butterfly Beyond Borders” and “Water First and Turtle World.” 

The film series will end with a film entitled, “Build Green,” which features Canadian environmental activist, David Suzuki, showcasing various environmental buildings and architects from around the world. This film should be of interest to the local community as Southampton Town has been trying to revamp its own building codes more recently to effectively comply with current green building standards.

Above: A scene from “Buyer Be Fair.”