In the documentary Silent Snow: The Invisible Poisoning of the World, a young woman from Greenland (Pipaluk Knudsen-Ostermann, who also co-directed with Jan van den Berg) travels abroad to research the use of the pesticides that are devastating her home and the rest of the world. According to Knudsen-Ostermann, Greenland is an innocent victim, the helpless recipient of poisons that flow north via ocean currents and winds and end up in the blubber of the country’s animals. Its citizens rely on animal blubber and other oils for nutrients—-and then, perhaps not so coincidentally, they become sick. Knudsen-Ostermann goes to Africa, India, and Costa Rica to investigate their rampant and largely unapologetic use of DDT, speaking to a couple of activists along the way who mostly convey the same message: that pesticides are controlled by the government and therefore the odds of change aren’t favorable. Besides the directors’ annoying use of subtitles for easily understandable English, Silent Snow is a sad and infuriating look at a seemingly overwhelming global problem, with not necessity but greed at its heart. As one activist paraphrases from an unknown Native American, “When we have cut down the last tree, when we have poisoned our last river, when we have killed our last fish, then we find out that we can’t eat money.”
Silent Snow screens tonight as part of the Environmental Film Festival at 6:30 p.m. at the Royal Netherlands Embassy, 4200 Linnean Ave. NW. Tickets are free with a reservation (you may be too late, but contact DutchFilm@aol.com).