An Environmental Conversation with the Filmmaker of Dirt! The Movie

Posted on April 21, 2011

Eugene Rosow’s film Dirt! The Movie broadcast on Independent Lens in April 2010 and brought together more than 6,000 people to Community Cinema events in 60 cities across the country.


As we gear up for Earth Day celebrations and events across the country, we wanted to reflect on two extraordinary films that ITVS had the opportunity to take out to communities through broadcast and on-the-ground engagement efforts in recent years. Today and tomorrow, we'll be catching up with filmmakers whose projects continue to have a deep impact on inspiring and sustaining individual and community action on issues related to environmental conservation. Today’s conversation features filmmaker Eugene Rosow.

 What's been happening with your film since 2010? 
DIRT! The Movie has been screening continually around the country at a wide range of community and educational events as part of the film’s outreach and public engagement campaign.  There have been several hundred such screenings and they’re still going on!  For example, in the next couple of days, the film is screening four times in honor of Earth Day. The reactions to the film from reviewers and viewers have been terrific. I am currently working on an e book project that combines text, film, and enhanced interactivity, as well as an interdisciplinary, cross cultural, problem solving curricular model for higher education that focuses on teaching sustainability. 

What are you most proud of in terms of the impact you've seen your film make on an individual (or a group)? 
From the beginning of the project we intended to make a film that would empower audiences; to show that dirt is a living substance that requires our participation in preserving this ultimate natural resource. We examined our species’ catastrophic environmental practices that threaten the soils our very existence depend upon, but we didn’t want to leave audiences with a hopeless helpless feeling.  So we presented the point of view that sustainable solutions to human made problems are very much within our reach, and showed some of them. Every Q&A I’ve participated in people in the audiences said the film inspired them to action.  

Frequently people say "What can I do?"  And other members of the audiences pitch in with suggestions.  Such actions have included participation in School Gardening Programs, faith based activities to provide healthy food to those in need and to renew a commitment to environmental health as an ethical position, shared information about Community Supported Agriculture, and citizen action initiatives.  Please see our site at for more information. 

What will you be doing on Earth Day this year?  
Getting my hands dirty — planting three kinds of peppers, zucchinis, and tomatoes in my community garden plot and supporting organizations working on environmental protection and sustainability issues. Please see the partner list on our website above as well as 

What do you love most about being a filmmaker? 
The opportunity to explore new worlds I wouldn’t know about otherwise, meet amazing people with astonishing perspectives, work with talented filmmakers, and if I do my job right — make a difference with what I love to do: to bring about a better world. Celebrate Earth Day with a Social Screening of the documentary Garbage Dreams on Tonight at 9PM EDT / 6PM PDT. 


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