Bates to show influential documentary 'Affluenza'

The Bates College Program in Environmental Studies will show Affluenza, the acclaimed 1997 documentary about the impact of rampant materialism in America, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 5, in Room 104, Olin Arts Center, 75 Russell St.

Written and co-produced by John de Graaf, Affluenza is the first in a documentary film series at Bates about environmental issues. The screenings are open to the public at no charge. For more information, call 207-786-6464.

All scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in Olin 104, the other films in the series are: Wilderness and Spirit: A Mountain Called Katahdin, by Portland filmmaker Huey (Nov. 9); Jane Goodall: Chimps in Crisis, a National Geographic film by David Hamlin (Nov. 16); and Blue Vinyl, by New York City filmmaker Judith Helfand (Nov. 30). Finally, documentaries by students in the course will be shown on Dec. 7.

The series is held in conjunction with the course Environmental Filmmaking in Theory and Practice, taught by Melissa Paly. Paly is a documentary filmmaker whose work has been broadcast on PBS and cable television, and has won awards at film festivals in this country and abroad. Shown at Bates last year, her video Livable Landscapes: By Chance or by Choice? documents how five northern New England communities, including Scarborough, have responded to development.

Combining personal stories, vintage film clips and expert commentary, Affluenza uses a disease metaphor to examine American materialism — which, according to distributor Bullfrog Films, “is having a devastating impact on our families, communities and the environment.” The film was produced by de Graaf and Vivia Boe and is hosted by public radio’s Scott Simon.

John de Graaf has been producing PBS documentaries for 27 years. He was co-producer, writer and editor of the popular Affluenza specials and more than a dozen other national prime-time specials. He has received more than 100 awards for filmmaking and is the co-author of the book Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic (Berrett-Koehler Publishing, 2001).

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