NYU Washington, DC and the Environmental Film Festival hosted the Washington DC premiere of Empowered: Power from the People. After the screening, guests were joined by Film Director Shira Golding Evergreen and Producer Suzanne McMannis for a discussion. NYU DC Site Director Michael Ulrich introduced Evergreen and McMannis to the audience.
Washington, D.C. Premiere - Empowered: Power from the People
Part of the beauty of renewables is their availability: we all get some sun, wind or geothermal heat and we can harvest that energy – no power company or massive centralized plant needed. That’s the theme underlying this independent documentary produced in the Ithaca, N.Y. area. The directors were originally drawn to the topic of natural gas fracking, but preferred to make a film about something positive. That “something” turned out to be the community of energy do-it-yourselfers in the area: folks using sun, wind, biofuels and energy efficiency upgrades to power their lives. Energy’s not the only thing that doesn’t need massive infrastructure and money behind it: the creators of this film demonstrate that professional filmmaking can also come from a small-scale independent approach.
Shira makes documentaries and experimental films as well as leading community filmmaking projects in Ithaca, NY.
Shira studied film theory and production at Cornell University, including a semester abroad at the British American Film Academy in London. Her hour-long thesis film In Search of Golding Street, a personal documentary about South Africa and Israel, earned her high honors and was screened at the New York International Independent Film Festival.
After moving to New York City in 2002 with Ari, Shira worked for the nonprofit Arts Engine for five and a half years, co-directing the Media That Matters Film Festival, winner of the best nonprofit/green website at the 2005 South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival. For three years she served as Arts Engine’s Director of Education & Outreach, creating school curricula, advising filmmakers on outreach and traveling around the country to screen films and speak about distribution, youth filmmaking and media justice. She curated and designed graphics for Media That Matters: Good Food, a collection of short films on food and sustainability and traveled to India to help launch Adobe Youth Voices, a global youth media initiative.
In 2006, Shira shifted to creative production, becoming Arts Engine’s in-house designer, video editor and writer. She has edited trailers and rough-cuts for numerous documentaries and designed graphics for the films Election Day (SXSW, P.O.V.) and the award-winning Gypsy Caravan (Tribeca Film Festival, PBS). She has written numerous articles about film and social change for MediaRights.org and Documentary.org. From 2007-2009, she served on the board of MIX NYC, a queer experimental film festival based in New York City.
Shira crossed-over to the narrative world in 2009 as Co-Director of Frac Attack: Dawn of the Watershed, an environmental zombie thriller that takes on the dark side of natural gas drilling. Frac Attack premiered at Ithaca’s Cinemapolis Theatre and is being screened in classrooms and community spaces around the region.
In 2011 she directed Empowered: Power from the People in collaboration with producer Suzanne McMannis of Earthwalk Farm. From solar and wind to veggie oil and geothermal, this feature-length documentary tells the story of Tompkins County’s role in the energy independence revolution. The movie premiered at Cinemapolis in the fall of 2011 with a huge turnout and is being screened around the region in partnership with the Finger Lakes Bioneers.
Shira is currently collaborating on an eco-musical movie called We Can’t Stop.
Suzanne McMannis is the producer of The Forecast and the owner of Earthwalk Farm.
Suzanne McMannis homesteads with her husband, Lynn, on 50 acres in Freeville. After building their barn and straw bale house and putting in an orchard, gardens, ponds, and pastures for their sheep and dairy cow, they started an organic vegetable CSA that keeps them completely out of trouble with its never-ending workload. They heat and cook with wood and have lived off-the-grid for a decade (with a 1kW Bergey wind turbine and 720W of solar panels).
“I’d much rather be surrounded by fields of solar panels and wind turbines than by a ruptured landscape of drilling rigs and pipelines. I hope this film shows people how feasible renewable energy really can be.”