Sailboat approaching Manhattan. (Brad Vogel/Schooner Apollonia)

The Rosendale Theatre is a worthwhile cultural resource for our area in several strategies, but 1 that deserves a sharper spotlight is the reality that it is a normal presenter for the Science on Screen system – 1 of only 42 such venues nationwide. Of the 4 of them that are in New York State, the other 3 are in New York City and Lengthy Island, so that tends to make the Small Cinema that Could in our backyard some thing additional-particular.

Science on Screen is an initiative of the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, Massachusetts, primarily funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Every single year the system distributes little grants to arthouse cinemas that are committed to hosting screenings of films with themes associated to scientific troubles of modern interest, paired with reside presentations and audience discussions. The Rosendale Theatre Collective (RTC) has been awarded funds for such programming for 4 years now.

In its early involvement in the system, RTC had to present the films and discussions practically, but now they’re becoming shown in the Theatre itself. In 2022 there have been 3 applications, 1 every single in March, April and May perhaps, and 2023 will expand the series to 4. Final year featured a screening of Arrival featuring neighborhood professors of astronomy and linguistics A Birder’s Guide to All the things with two biology professors plus Pulse of the Planet host Jim Metzner and a 4-film Mushroom Festival that incorporated The Truffle Hunters, Now, Forager, Attack of the Mushroom Folks and the a lot-loved documentary Excellent Fungi. The latter occasion presented the solution of signing up for amushroommeal ready by the Theatre’s instant neighbor, The Major Cheese.

Documentary filmmaker Jon Bowermaster. (Getty)

Now Science on Screen is back for one more springtime series in Rosendale. It kicked off on March 18 with In the Garden of Sounds, a documentary about Wolfgang Fasser, a blind Swiss educator who makes use of music and sounds to perform with severely disabled kids. Metzner returned to the Theatre to moderate a discussion with psychotherapist SarahRose Hogan of Providing Tree Counseling in Kingston.

Final Wednesday, March 29, the series featured a pair of environmental documentaries by the Stone Ridge-primarily based international kayak explorer-turned-photojournalist Jon Bowermaster. He’s an enthusiastic supporter of the Rosendale Theatre and has made use of it in the previous to beta-test new releases by his production business, Oceans eight Films. His anti-fracking opus Dear President Obama had its “unofficial premiere” in Rosendale in 2016.

Considering that then, Bowermaster has been turning his lens on troubles close to residence, releasing a series of mini-documentaries on subjects such as PCBs, “bomb trains” and the Indian Point nuclear plant internet site referred to as The Hudson: A River at Threat. He followed up these rather grim calls to action with Hudson River Stories: Hope on the Hudson, a much more upbeat series of profiles of citizen activists who are creating optimistic impacts on environmental issues in the Hudson Valley.

Two of Bowermaster’s newest releases have been screened in final week’s Rosendale Theatre system: 1 Dam at a Time and Windshipped. Matt Kovner, a member of the Town of Olive Environmental Conservation Commission who organizes Ulster County’s Third Thursday Environmental Series of Zoom seminars, served as moderator for a reside discussion featuring each Bowermaster himself and Dr. George Jackman, senior habitat restoration manager at Riverkeeper and “star” of 1 Dam at a Time.

Filmed locally, 1 Dam at a Time (2023) highlights Riverkeeper’s efforts to demolish old, unused dams on creeks and streams operating into the Hudson River, like footage of such efforts underway in locations like Quassaick Creek in Newburgh and Furnace Brook in Westchester. The intent of removing these dams is to restore these waterways to straightforward passage by the aquatic life that depends on them, and the film tends to make an eloquent case for how such streams can be therefore transformed. Whilst Riverkeeper’s official count cites the quantity of dams on tributaries in the Hudson watershed at about 1,600, Dr. Jackman stated that his individual estimate runs closer to three,000 – and that if he lived extended adequate, he’d remove them all.

(Oceans eight Films)

A retired New York City police lieutenant who went on to get a PhD in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, Jackman approaches the topic of dam removal with evangelical fervor (God’s will actually got pointed out many instances). Asked about the prospective of dams for creating electrical energy, for instance, he focused on Hydro-Québec’s proposals to make a series of big new dams and a huge corridor of transmission towers by means of New England. He produced no mention of the option power entrepreneurs who are reviving old, little-scale creating facilities to bring hydroelectricity to Hudson Valley towns through Neighborhood Option Aggregation applications. “Hydropower is not clean or green,” he stated categorically. Jackman also summarily rejected any arguments by neighborhood historical societies that old dams may perhaps have worth as industrial archaeology: “Just due to the fact some thing is historic does not imply it is good… There’s nothing at all much more historic than the fish that reside in these rivers.”

If mini-festivals of environmentally themed films have an inherent flaw, it is that they have a tendency to be preaching to the choir, and this 1 was no exception. The discussion period would have been much more dynamic and intriguing if Jackman had received a small pushback on the rigidity of some of his positions. No 1 turned up from the Save Tillson Lake organization in Gardiner, for instance – a group that has locked horns with Jackman in the previous for his public statements that the rights of lifeforms in the Palmaghatt Kill supersede the rights of humans who worth the current lake “by evolutionary fiat.” No 1 pointed out the reality (acknowledged by sister environmental organization Clearwater) that even if the Tillson Lake Dam have been removed, fish from the Hudson couldn’t get upstream to spawn there, due to the fact the a lot-bigger hydropower dam at Sturgeon Pool in Rifton blocks their passage.

George Jackman with excavator at Furnace Brook. (Devin Pickering/Oceans eight Films)

In response to a single “softball” query about the Tillson Lake controversy, Jackman characterized the current leaky dam as “high-hazard,” adding, “I’ve snorkeled that creek from leading to bottom. It is murky, filled with algae and has no oxygen under ten feet. It is a ‘bloom and bust’ method. The water is tea-stained and warmer downstream from the dam… I can inform you that dam on Tillson Lake truly impacts the water good quality there.”

The second film in the system, Windshipped (2022), carried no such locally controversial baggage. It documents the retrofitting and relaunch of the Apollonia, a 64-foot steel-bottom schooner constructed in the 1940s, to serve as a cargo sailing ship on the Hudson River. Employing wind and solar energy just about exclusively, Apollonia transports goods from the mid-Hudson region by means of regional ports, like Kingston and Poughkeepsie, to New York City and returns with cargo from downstate.

Barrel loading on the Apollonia. (Chris Rahm/Oceans eight Films)

Whilst so far it is the only 1 of its sort, and the ship’s cargo capacity is also little to replace a lot of the CO2-intensive truck visitors that bears most of the visitors of customer goods to and from the Hudson Valley, it is a test case for how our River and other individuals like it – and the winds that blow by means of them at no expense – may possibly be reestablished as corridors for industrial shipping that does not burn any fossil fuels. Apollonia’s charismatic restorer/captain Sam Merrett and his little, enthusiastic crew are compelling ambassadors for the idea that such an method could turn out to be economically viable in the future. “We’re going to want a larger boat, and much more boats,” stated Bowermaster. “I assume it is coming.”

What’s subsequent in the Science on Screen system at the Rosendale Theatre? Right after Yang (2022), a science fiction film about the ethical troubles raised by artificial intelligence, will screen at three p.m. on Saturday, April 15. The post-film discussion will function Dr. Kenneth Livingston, professor of Cognitive Science, and Dr. Marc Smith, chair of the Laptop or computer Science Division, each from Vassar College. And while no date has but been announced, we are promised a second annual Mushroom Festival sometime in May perhaps. This subject has currently established very well-liked with neighborhood audiences, and the existing buzz about the HBO Television series The Final of Us, with its terrifying zombies whose brains are infected by an aggressive species of the Cordyceps fungus, ought to heighten interest even much more.

For much more information on Science on Screen and other system offerings at the Rosendale Theatre, take a look at

By Editor

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