Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History


Natural History on the Big Screen introduces audiences to some of the latest environmental films that address the relationship humans have with the planet. The "Stories From a Transforming World" three-
series presented with the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital and curated by Joshua Bell, Curator of Globalization at the National Museum of Natural History, will explore multiple perspectives on the Age of Man - from close to home, to a global scale.



October 13, 6:30 p.m.
 (Bolivia/US, 2015, 76 min.) 

The world's largest salt flat, Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni, is a pristine, otherworldly expanse of white. For generations, the only signs of life have been the "saleros" who harvest salt from its radiant surface. This remote region is thrust into the future when Bolivia's leaders embark on a planto extract a precious mineral found beneath the salt crust, and to build an infrastructure connecting the Salar to the outside world. Salero, a nonfiction feature film, is a poetic journey through the eyes of Moises, one of the last remaining salt gatherers. Set at the dawn of the modern age in one of the most secluded places on earth, Moises' story explores how identity is formed by both tradition and progress. Directed by Mike Plunkett. 

Followed by a discussion with Joshua Bell, Curator of Globalization at the National Museum of Natural History, and Robert Albro, Research Associate Professor at American University's Center for Latin American and Latino Studies. 


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November 29, 6:30 p.m.

DEATH BY DESIGN (US, 2016, 73 min.)

Just what is the cost of our digital dependency? Director Sue Williams debunks the notion that electronics is a “clean” industry by investigating a number of environmental and health catastrophes wrought by production of our gadgets. From early poisonous practices in Silicon Valley, to China’s ongoing dumping of chemicals this is a story that isn’t being told - but can no longer be ignored. Directed by Sue Williams.

Followed by a discussion with the filmmaker Sue Williams and curator Joshua Bell. 

Land Beneath Our Feet

February, 28, 6:30 p.m.

THE LAND BENEATH OUR FEET (Liberia/US, 2016, 60 min.)

The Land Beneath Our Feet weaves together rare archival footage from a 1926 Harvard expedition to Liberia with the journey of a young Liberian man, uprooted by war, seeking to understand how the past has shaped land conflicts in his country today. This film is an explosive reminder of how large-scale land grabs are transforming livelihoods across the planet. Directed by Gregg Mitman and Sarita Siegel.

Followed by a discussion with the director, Gregg Mitman, and featured subject in the film, Emmanuel Urey.