Santa Monica College’s Green Screen Series offers a virtual esacpe into nature

By Caden Sullivan

The Ben Masters film “The River and The Wall” explores the ecological consequences of immigration policies on 1200 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border split by the Rio Grande river

Bored of Netflix? Take the opportunity to attend a free online film festival and “escape” to the great outdoors.

Santa Monica College is bringing its fall Green Screen Series online, starting next Monday (Sept. 21). From the trees to the seas, the festival will present a number of different landscapes, ecosystems, characters and environmental conflicts from the real world through the lens of film. Presenting both educational documentaries and compelling narrative films, the festival aims to enlighten audiences on the importance of nature.

It’s not every day that you can stream a film narrated by the rich brogue of Liam Neeson or watch a National Geographic-style film for free, so sign up ahead of time to reserve your virtual spot.

(Pre-registration is required before each showing and is open to the entire community.) Here’s the full lineup; all showings begin at 3 p.m. Pacific Time.

Monday, Sept. 21 – “The River and the Wall” Screening and Talk: Join Green Screen Series host Sheila Laffey in viewing and discussing a documentary by Ben Masters that discusses the ecological effects of a U.S.-Mexico border wall through the eyes of a river guide, conservationist and a NatGeo explorer. This conversation and film uniquely weaves the current direction of anti-immigration laws with their physical consequences on the Rio Grande river.

Monday, Oct. 12 – “Love Thy Nature” Film Screening and Talk: Join award-winning director and nature therapy expert Sylvie Rokab in a presentation and discussion of her 2014 film narrated by Northern Irish-American actor Liam Neeson. This film provides an artistic spectacle that emphasizes the importance of life and biodiversity.

Monday, Nov. 2 – “Hawai’i Eco Stories: We All Need the Forest and In the Middle of the Sea” Screenings and Talk: Green Screen Series host Sheila Laffey presents two short films she produced for Hawaiian schoolchildren and discusses them with Cathi Miller, SMC Professor of Early Childhood Education. These simple stories demonstrate the importance of education on environmental awareness.

Monday, Nov. 23 – “The Condor & the Eagle” Screening and Talk: This film and discussion led by Laffey showcases a story of indigineous leaders from North and South America uniting to fight for “climate justice.” This narrative spans from the plains of Canada to the heart of the Amazon and reinforces the unifying aspects of sustainable living as well as the communal nature of saving the planet.

Visit to or call (310) 434-4100 to learn more and register.