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QC Environmental Film Series kicks off with ‘Picture of His Life’


QC Environmental Film Series

Figge Museum, Davenport -- Sunday, Jan. 23 at 2 p.m., $5-20


Screenshot from the documentary ‘Picture of His Life’ (2019).

River Action — a Davenport nonprofit that, per their mission statement, works to “foster the environmental, economic and cultural vitality” of the Quad City riverfront — is premiering their 2022 QC Environmental Film Series on Sunday, Jan. 23 at the Figge Art Museum.

The series, which highlights environmental issues relevant to life in the Mississippi River Valley, started in 2019 at the Figge. It moved outdoors to the Blue Grass Drive-In Theater for 2020, returning to the Figge in 2021 with strict safety protocols in place. The increased safety measures will remain in place for the 2022 season, which starts with Picture of His Life, sponsored by the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities. This opening film follows wildlife photographer Amos Nachoum on his journey to photograph a polar bear underwater.

The board and staff of River Action start the process of choosing what movies to screen by compiling a large list, peppered with suggestions from community members.

“That connection with other people gives you a rich list to work from,” River Action Executive Director Kathy Wine said.

The staff and board watch each one and decide together which six will be featured the following season. “We need to make sure they align with our mission,” Wine said. “Does it deal with farming? Is it new, interesting, relevant?” The group pays attention to relevant awards, but above all, she said, “We have to like it.”

If the feature film isn’t very long, River Action will sometimes open the screening with Brower Youth Award-winning short films that engage with the narrative offered by the featured documentary, offering additional content for viewers to discuss during the talk back. Wine is particularly glad to be able to share the “value of documentaries to educate folks,” because she believes the medium and genre make docs accessible to a large number of people.

Screenshot from the documentary ‘Picture of His Life’ (2019).

Each screening includes a talk back afterward, during which a guest expert on the featured topic or film will engage with the audience and answer questions. Wine said it hasn’t been hard to find experts on relevant topics locally, for example, “with initiatives like the plastics” — referring to the final film from the 2022 season (April 24), Microplastic Madness — “we have a real expert here getting plastics out of our streams.”

That expert in microplastics is Kathy Morris of the Scott County Waste Commission, one of a number of partner organizations (including nonprofits and government agencies) that River Action works with on other programs, as well — everything from river clean up efforts and events like Floatzilla (in which participants paddle down the Mississippi) to a monthly book club, educational boat rides and scholarships. River Action is involved with conservation efforts, improving wildlife habitats (such as the 60 sites cared for by the Quad City Wild Places program) and education on flooding and weather patterns that affect the Quad City area.

In addition to The Picture of His Life and Microplastic Madness, Wine is particularly excited about showing the movie Inhabitants (March 20), which follows five indigenous American tribes as they each work to restore their traditional land management practices. Inhabitants will be screened for free. The other films in what Wine calls “a wonderful opportunity to see cutting edge documentaries” include The Ants and the Grasshopper (Feb. 6), Reflection: A Walk With Water (Feb. 20), and 2040 (March 6).

Screenshot from the documentary ‘Picture of His Life’ (2019).

Admission to a single film is $5 (excepting Inhabitants). Season passes are $20. All films are screened Sundays at 2 p.m.; Picture of His Life is also available to view virtually.


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