OBX Environmental Film Fest

By on October 4, 2023

Event organized by Peace Garden Project, sponsored by Dare Arts

The Peace Garden Project, a local 501 (c)(3) focused on environmental justice and food justice, is bringing the Outer Banks its first ever environmental film festival next month. And while the topic of the environment and its various challenges can create some pessimism, Peace Garden Project Executive Director Michelle Lewis says these films highlight the beauty of the human spirit and the various landscapes, wildlife and culture these people are striving to preserve.

“I think sometimes people think, ‘Oh my god, an environmental film festival, I’m going to show up and I’m going to walk away from this feeling bad about being in the world,’” said Lewis. “But I think most of these films leave you feeling good about the human nature connection and like, there’s something we can do about it to make it better.”

The film festival, sponsored by Dare Arts, will take place from November 2-4 at Dare Arts and College of the Albemarle’s Manteo campus. Typically, the Peace Garden Project teaches environmental issues to their middle and high school interns in their Youth Leadership Institute, but Lewis says the organization wanted to find a way to educate the larger community on these issues.

“And this is a good way for us to, you know, continue that work of environmental education, but to reach people in the community that we don’t normally reach,” Lewis stated.

Lewis, who has a master’s degree in environmental studies, film, and divinity, says that because we live on a string of small vulnerable islands where so many decisions are based on tourism, it’s important to think about small steps each of us can take to help preserve them. With so much controversy around climate change and environmental issues, Lewis states that if we can take the controversy and politics out of it, we can think about it simply. It’s about preserving the place that we love.

“I don’t have children, but if I did, I would want them to be able to enjoy the beauty of this community in this way that I’m able to enjoy it,” says Lewis. “We have something really special in having clean air and clean water. You know, people all over our country don’t have access to clean air and clean water. They don’t have access to green spaces, they don’t have access to beaches. They don’t have access to wildlife in the way that we do. And so we have something really special that we should be protecting.”

The Peace Garden Project used a platform called FilmFreeway, which is used to host film festivals and screenwriting competitions, among other things, and are utilized by film festivals as large as Sundance. According to Lewis, within just two months of posting their film fest on the site, they had received 47 entries. Filmmakers had the option to enter a few categories including narrative film, documentary film, highlighting hidden stories, best film by an indigenous filmmaker, best film by a black filmmaker, Outer Banks, religion/spirituality and the environment, and emerging filmmaker.

Films were chosen by 14 screeners, which included a variety of people from the community including Lewis herself, some of her youth interns, as well as local environmentalists, and Peace Garden volunteers. Films were ranked in various categories including originality/creativity, sound design, environmental theme, cinematography, performances, and production value.

The films depict people all over the world connecting to their environment, such as indigenous kayakers returning to whitewater kayak the Klamath River during the largest dam removal in history; an Amazon tribe returning deep into the forest to live on their ancestral land after decades of slavery; a 16-year-old director documenting the devastating impact modern farming has on the soil; and an 11-year-old working to save the leatherback turtle in Thailand.

And while there are a variety of films from across the planet, there are many that touch on issues specific to North Carolina and its coast. Lewis notes a few, including one that documents a man who kayaks from Florida to Norfolk, and stops in coastal communities along the way to talk to people about climate change and gets varied opinions from both sides of the debate. Another film zeroes in on hog farming in North Carolina and its devastating effects on the soil, water, and the health of people who live nearby. And another touches on a small town in North Carolina on the brink of collapse due to constant flooding.

To make the festival happen, The Peace Garden Project put together a steering committee, which has been meeting regularly since January to work through the logistics of the festival. This includes fundraising efforts, meeting with potential venues to share the films, finding volunteers to help run the event, and even coordinating lodging for the filmmakers.

“We recognize that there’s a lack of equity often in the film industry. You know, we’re independent filmmakers…we’re often making films with our own money. Sometimes they’re very low budget films, and often they don’t have the resources to travel to a festival when their film is selected,” said Lewis. “So we’re working to put together a lodging for the filmmakers that might need lodging assistance when they get here, so that that’s not a barrier to them being a part of the festival.”

According to Lewis, another great thing about the festival is that the films are family friendly, and a great way for parents to start a conversation with their kids.

“It’s a good way to educate your children if you’re attempting to educate your children about environmental issues, not just here in North American context, but environmental issues that are happening all over the world,” said Lewis.

For those who are new to documentaries or are intimidated by the seriousness of the topic, Lewis says people may be pleasantly surprised.

“I would say, come check it out. You know, I don’t consider myself to be a huge documentary person either. I’m not a huge fan of random documentaries. But these were really thought-provoking, really compelling…It’s about thinking about how we can continue to care for this place, not just for our generation, but for future generations. If we want them to be able to enjoy the beauty of this place the same way that we do, then I think it’s imperative.”

For more information about the Outer Banks Environmental Film Festival visit obxeff.com



Barnhill Building Group has been selected as the Construction Manager @ Risk by the College of the Albemarle and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade contractors to submit bids for the furnishing labor, materials, equipment, and tools for the new College of The Albemarle – Allied Health Sciences Simulation Lab (COA Health Sciences) located in Elizabeth City, NC. Please note: Only subcontractors who have been prequalified by Barnhill will be able to submit a Bid.

The project consists of the new construction of a 38,000-sf, 2-story expansion to the existing Owens Health Sciences Center and will house classrooms, labs, and a simulation lab. The site is just over just over 4.5 acres and is located on an active campus. This new construction will be a steel structure with a brick and metal panel veneer, curtainwall, and storefront glazing with a PVC roof membrane.

Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages:

BP0100: General Trades

BP0105: Final Cleaning

BP0390: Turnkey Concrete

BP0400: Turnkey Masonry

BP0500: Structural Steel & Misc. Steel

BP0740: Roofing

BP0750: Metal Panels

BP0790: Caulking / Caulking

BP0800: Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware

BP0840: Glass & Glazing

BP0925: Drywall

BP0960: Resilient Flooring

BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

BP0990: Painting & Wallcovering

BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

BP1010: Signage

BP1098: Demountable Partitions

BP1230: Finish Carpentry and Casework

BP1250: Window Treatment

BP1400: Elevators

BP2100: Fire Protection

BP2200: Plumbing

BP2300: HVAC

BP2600: Turnkey Electrical

BP3100: Turnkey Sitework

BP3290: Landscaping

Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business firms are encouraged to complete participation submittals.

HUB/MWBE OUTREACH MEETING: Barnhill Building Group will be conducting a HUB/MWBE Informational Session. You are encouraged to attend the following session to learn more about project participation opportunities available to you. These seminars will help to: Learn about project and scope; Inform and train Minority/HUB contractors in preparation for bidding this project; Assist in registration on the State of North Carolina Vendor link; Stimulate opportunities for Networking with other firms. Location and time TBD. Please visit our planroom at https://app.buildingconnected.com/public/54da832ce3edb5050017438b for more information.

Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals, by July 22, 2024, to Meredith Terrell at mterrell@barnhillcontracting.com or hardcopies can be mailed to Barnhill Contracting Company PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612).


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