Climate Action! Season at Depot – a round-up

Depot Cinema’s annual Climate Action! Season in June focused on Getting Back to Nature with an earthy slate of films, talks and activities. Depot’s head of sustainability Tasha Padbury looks back on the highlights – and what they tell us about the state of our natural world and what we need to do to safeguard it.

At Depot Cinema, we celebrated our annual Climate Action! festival by putting a spotlight on global and local efforts to address the climate and nature crisis. This year’s festival, called ‘Back to Nature’, was our most popular yet, with sell-out screenings – a rarity for what is still a niche topic on the big screen.

Every year the festival’s theme draws upon the best in current environmental documentary film-making – which, this year, included an overwhelming abundance of brilliant nature-focused films. Art and culture always reflect the big issues of our time. From this year’s crop of films, it’s evident that giving nature a voice and the importance of healthy ecosystems are at the forefront of public concern and desire right now.

Restoring nature

It was also very timely that this year’s five-day festival took place amid the Restore Nature Now march in London where over 60,000 people (and possibly up to 100,000!), including representation of 350 environmental groups such as RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts, came together to demand the next UK government address the nature crisis.

In that spirit, our festival included documentaries, films, talks, workshops, and activities showcasing ways we can take action and re-find harmony with nature in our everyday lives.

Fungi: Web of Life – narrated by a stellar cast including Bjork and with a recorded Q&A with Merlin Sheldrake, the acclaimed author of Entangled Life – opened the festival on an epic scale as the film travelled through the wondrous world of fungi using time-lapse sequences. The Depot restaurant paired the film with a delicious special Wild Mushroom Risotto and two novelty mushroom infused cocktails – an Old Fashioned Fun Guy and Mycelium in Manhattan!

Six Inches of Soil explored regenerative farming in the UK with local sustainable farmers on the post-film panel, and Biggest Little Farm was an endearing family-friendly story of a couple and their rescue dog, who move from the city to start a sustainable farm. Soil School with Michael Kennard from the Compost Club inspired attendees to turn waste into rich, life-giving compost on your home turf.

We also screened two films as part of the UK Green Film Festival. Holy Shit was an entertaining look at whether human poop, treated properly, can save the world, and Light Needs was a creative exploration of nature in our homes – the hidden world of houseplants.

Rights of Nature: the next revolution? was a specially-curated selection of short films with a panel discussion about the growing global movement to give nature that same rights as humans and corporations, with debate traversing the Americas, the Arctic and – nearer to home – Sussex’s River Ouse, which is the subject of pioneering work to develop a ‘Rights of River’ charter.

Also close to home, the festival got wild about flowers! The Creating a Home for Nature Exhibition showcased a pilot project underway to create a wildflower area in the grounds of Beechwood Hall in Cooksbridge as part of a collective local effort headed by Lewes District Councillors. We also again offered our ever-popular exclusive tours of Depot Cinema’s native living roof.

Key themes and insights kept repeating themselves throughout the festival: the fact that the natural tussle of competition and cooperation in nature is ever present but is currently way out of balance. The fact that our human detachment from nature has resulted in a catastrophic break in the circular rhythms that drive our natural processes. And – perhaps most important of all – the fact that the solutions to our biggest global challenges can be found by reconnecting with, observing and letting natural processes take the lead.

We thank everyone who participated and attended this year’s abundant festival to inform and inspire action. Wild wishes from Team Depot – Mirabelle, Dora and Tasha Padbury who curated this year’s festival.