A recent post on Instagram alerted me that The Corazon Theatre on Granada Street had its official post hurricane Matthew re-opening. This was heartwarming news, especially in view of the dozens of water logged seats that line the sidewalk of DeSoto Street. In conjunction with the re-opening was the hosting of an event called Cinema Verde - an international and environmental film and arts festival.
19 films were featured from independent artists representing India, France and Denmark to name a few. Various directors were on hand for the event, ready to interact with audience members.
I saw a 2014 documentary called My Hottest Year on Earth (directed by Christian Dalsgaard) It profiled a Danish meterologist named Mikkel Fønskov. He quit his job to travel the world for a year in search of areas especially effected by extreme climate and weather. His travels took him to several destinations including the Phillipines (where typhoon Haiyan caused major devastation), Bangladesh, drought-stricken Bombay Beach, CA (at a record 223 ft below sea level) and Miami - whose imminent sea level rise was discussed. Mikkel got "into the trenches" with locals in each region and made a concerted effort to gain a deeper understanding of how extreme climate and weather impacts the daily lives of residents. I'll never forget Mikkel's conversation with a 12-year old Filipino boy - he was incredibly reflective, optimistic and spoken like an adult. He spoke of his family's determination to persevere and smile despite the wreckage surrounding them.
Despite being a 2014 documentary, My Hottest Year on Earth was incredibly timely as I sat in a recently flooded theatre. This in a city still recovering from an extreme weather event of its own.
Two nights before watching My Hottest Year on Earth, I got to meet the film festival's Founding Director, Trish Riley and Program Manager Penny Niemann. They have been wonderful resources in connection with the festival. The information they provided and their friendly, conversational personalities made a nice impression and fostered eager anticipation of attending the festival.
After the film ended, I was pleased to overhear in the lobby a French-speaking woman named Annie discussing a garden she tends in Lincolnville - a neighborhood adjacent to the cinema. The garden suffered during hurricane Matthew. If you know me personally, you know that I consider meeting French speaking locals to be a special treat. I grew up speaking French regularly until I was eight and went on to study it in school for five years. Opportunities to have French conversations in St. Augustine are few and far between. I got to watch My Hottest Year on Earth along with Sarah Katz, the director of Moosehead's Wicked Good Plan (another film featured during the festival). As it turns out, she is a fellow Francophone. This only came to light after the film when we met Annie in the lobby.
Cinema Verde usually takes place in Gainesville. I'm glad they've found another home here in our old city.