USC Cinematic Arts presents its inaugural Eco Film & Media Arts Festival

Douglas Fairbanks' statue at USC Cinema

Filmmakers and USC student directors joined together to bring awareness to the climate crisis through short films.

The USC film community will come together Friday night to combat the climate crisis through visual storytelling. Aimed at demonstrating the need for sustainability, the Eco Film & Media Arts Festival is set to showcase student-directed short films at the School of Cinematic Arts.

In addition to screening 11 short films, the festival will feature a panel of filmmakers that include Courtnee Zambrano, a screenwriter and producer, Jay Ponti, a grassroots political organizer, and Anna Jane Joyner, a climate story consultant. Natasha Nutkiewicz, a senior theater major, will moderate the event.

Nutkiewicz is an actress, producer, and filmmaker, who will also present her short film “Our Garden,” at the festival. The film, which portrays a young couple fighting against oil drilling in their L.A. neighborhood, goes beyond the actions of the activist and delves into their mentalities, she said.

“[”Our Garden”] explores a lot of things about eco-grief, eco-anxiety—but also sometimes interpersonal conflicts that we may have even though we are fighting for the same thing,” Nutkiewicz said.

As the brains behind the festival, Nutkiewicz helped select several other films and documentaries produced by USC students to feature.

“I put out calls for filmmakers, people submitted their films, which are so exciting. They’re great,” Nutkiewicz, who is also a cinematic arts minor, said. “They’re documentaries, and they are fiction films, and they’re experimental, and they’re industrial promotional videos. There’s all sorts of media arts.”

Each storyline is different, but all of the films work to share the same message, according to the festival’s prompt: ‘we must act now.’ Many of the film directors found the motivation to share this message through film because of their personal experiences, they said.

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