Independent Lens Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Earth Day

Posted on April 1, 2010

Did you know that April marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day? To celebrate, Independent Lens will premiere a brand new line-up of programs, as well as offer free educational lesson plans, and an interactive game to help inspire viewers to reduce, reuse, and recycle. First up on Independent Lens is Dirt! The Movie, airing April 20 at 10:00 PM, by Bill Benenson and Gene Rosow. Narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis, Dirt! takes viewers inside the wonders of the soil and looks at how industrial farming, mining, and urban development have led us toward cataclysmic droughts, starvation, floods, and climate change. 

Inspired by William Bryant Logan’s acclaimed book, Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth, the film deftly combines science and humor as it digs into the history and current state of the living organic matter from which we come from and where we will one day return. Dirt is a part of everything we eat, drink and breathe, which is why we should stop treating it like, well … dirt. Then on April 27 at 10:00 PM, watch Garbage Dreams. Filmed over four years, director Mai Iskander goes inside the world of Egypt’s Zaballeen (Arabic for “garbage people”) to reveal the lives of two teenage boys born into the trash trade. The film reveals how –– for generations –– the residents of Cairo have depended on the Zaballeen to collect their trash, paying them only a minimal amount for their garbage collection services. These entrepreneurial garbage workers survive by recycling 80 percent of all the garbage they collect, creating what is arguably the world’s most efficient waste disposal system. Recycling to lift themselves out of poverty, the Zaballeen have, through necessity, devised ingenious solutions to one of the world’s most pressing problems. 


The broadcast of Garbage Dreams will also be accompanied by an interactive game in which players assume the role of the Zaballeen. Players will sort through trash and recycle everyday items found in Cairo –– all against a ticking clock! So put on your eco-savvy hats because you’ll have to quickly sort everything to match the 80 percent recycling rate of the Zaballeen within 12 rounds of play. Corresponding lesson plans for grades 9-12, complement the game and the film, and further explore the issue of recycling and the globalized economy. 

Learn more about Independent Lens Earth Day >>


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