image-a plastic ocean
The Odd Fellows Hall and Senior Coastsiders will screen “A Plastic Ocean” on Saturday. Photo courtesy "A Plastic Ocean"

San Francisco State University Professor Jenny Lau has seen quite a few environmental documentaries. As a researcher of environmental cinema, knowing these documentaries is practically part of the job description. She believes “A Plastic Ocean,” directed by Craig Leeson and released in 2017, stands out because of its ability to show rather than tell. 

The film documents the effects of the growing plastic problems in oceans around the world while showing new technologies and efforts on the part of governments and individuals to combat them. The film has met success worldwide. It was selected for international film festivals, including those at the Smithsonian Institute and the International Union for Conservation of Nature. In 2017, it took home several awards including Best Feature at the Colorado Environmental Film Festival and the Ocean Impact Award at the Barbados Independent Film Festival. 

There will be two screenings of the 82-minute movie this Saturday. The first will be at Senior Coastsiders at 3 p.m. followed by a 7:30 p.m. showing at the Half Moon Bay Odd Fellows. Lau will lead a group discussion after both screenings. 

“If you think you already know these issues, think twice,” Lau said. “You have to come to see the film to realize how much you don’t know. It’s so related to our everyday life.”

The event is funded by a grant the city of Half Moon Bay received earlier this year from Climate Ready San Mateo County Collaborative. Its purpose is to broaden the city’s outreach opportunities regarding climate change awareness to typically under-represented groups. The $60,000 grant was split between Senior Coastsiders, Ayundando Latinos a Sonar and the Youth Leadership Institute. 

Because plastic pollution is a global scourge, Leeson traveled around the world to document the widespread effects. It touches on everything from the effects of nonplastic wrapping options in everyday supermarkets to entire ecosystems having to deal with microplastics. 

“That’s the way we should look at climate change and environmental problems,” Lau said. “Because this is a real global problem.”

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