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“Cottonwood Creek is the watershed in Encinitas that flows out into Moonlight Beach,” says Carris Rhodes, program assistant for the Cottonwood Creek Environmental Film Festival. “It used to be really smelly and dirty. Then [approximately three years ago] the city and local organizations and residents put forth a strong and successful effort to clean up Cottonwood Creek Park. They restored the watershed, did native plant landscaping…. The wood is from a sustainable harvested forest, the landscape is equipped to handle any wildlife that’s naturally there, and the concrete is porous [allowing water to reach the soil below].” Rhodes says the creek was chosen to represent the film festival “because that is a good example of successful, positive environmentalism.”

The first annual Cottonwood Creek Environmental Film Festival, hosted by the Downtown Encinitas Mainstreet Association, will be held over the course of three days, June 6, 7, and 8. Professional films (the rights for which were purchased by the festival) will be screened, as well as 13 films submitted by local residents. “I picked [these films] because they didn’t beat you over the head,” says festival executive director Dodi Tucker. Tucker first saw the films she chose to screen at the Nevada City Environmental Film Festival in January. “[These films] had solutions to problems; many of them are actually pretty funny.”

“We submitted two 30-minute films,” says Julian Duval, president and CEO of Quail Botanical Gardens. “One called Between Wild Fires, to help our citizenry understand the personal responsibility that we have in helping each other live more safely with the inevitable wildfires that are part of our environment here, and the other called Gardens of Ideas for Water Conservation.”

Cobi Emery, a 13-year-old surfer, made his short film Pick Up 3 when he was 10. “I’ve never lived far away from an ocean, and I’ve been surfing since I was 4,” says Emery. “Every time I went down to the ocean I realized it wasn’t as it should be. There was trash and stuff all over the beach and in the water and dead animals like seagulls and stuff. I saw one turtle that got one of those plastic six-ring holders around it as a baby, and it grew up deformed.” A photo of the grown turtle — its shell cinched in the middle by the still-attached plastic — is included in Emery’s film.

Emery’s solution is a simple slogan: “Pick up three, and the difference you will see.” “It just came to me,” he says. “I looked and saw the trash, and I didn’t think there was that big of an impact, but then I did some research. I went online and learned that there’s a pile of trash between Asia and North America that’s the size of Texas, floating in the water.” Emery encourages his friends to pick up their own trash and three additional pieces every time they visit the beach. According to the Encinitas Beach Attendance Study, Moonlight Beach alone drew nearly 640,000 visitors last year.

Emery is not the youngest filmmaker taking part in the festival. Julie Hinze’s second-grade class (17 students, aged seven and eight) at Paul Ecke Central Elementary created an eight-minute film about the ongoing crisis with honeybees — a disappearing-hive phenomenon known as “colony collapse disorder.” The children, dressed in homemade honeybee costumes, act out disappearing-bee scenarios. “They designed their own [costumes],” says Hinze. “They used black T-shirts, some put yellow tape on there and a lot of pipe cleaners. It’s so cute.”

The children broke into groups, and each group presented its own interpretation of the current bee predicament. “One group did a little dance,” says Hinze. Another wrote new lyrics to the Ghostbusters theme song, changing it to “bee busters.” One group acted out honeybees enjoying a garden, collecting nectar from flowers. “After it says ‘the end,’” says Hinze, “there’s a little girl dressed up as a bee eating ice cream [Häagen-Dazs’s Vanilla Honey Bee, of which 40 percent of the proceeds goes toward researching colony collapse]. Then three little kids singing, making up a humming noise. I just love that, because it captures their little spirits.”

— Barbarella

Cottonwood Creek Environmental Film Festival
Saturday, June 7
10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
La Paloma Theatre
471 S. Coast Hwy. 101
Sunday, June 8
2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Encinitas Library
540 Cornish Drive
Cost: Saturday: $5 per film, $20 festival package; Sunday: free
Info: 760-943-1950 or ww.cottonwoodfilm.org

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