September 20, 2013 Silent Snow in Ridgefield, Connecticut US

hundreds of people watched Silent Snow for its first screening in Ridgefield, Thanks to Moki Kokoris and Joseph Consentino more screenings, also outside Ridgefield will follow. and the Hartford Courant interviewed Jan van den Berg for the screening of Silent Snow in the Ridgefield Playhouse Film Society last week.

"Jan van den Berg endured many challenges, such as traveling by dog sled in the Arctic region of Greenland, while directing his film, "Silent Snow: The Invisible Poisoning of the World. The film follows the journey of a young Inuit woman who travels to different parts of the world to find out what's destroying the lives and environment of people in her homeland." Read the entire article here.


The Hartford Courant:


Friday, September 6, 2013

Pipaluk Knudsen-Ostermann was born and raised in Greenland, a country, she said, where the people "don't worry too much." Then one Christmas came along and there was no snow. No snow by New Year's either, just rain that later froze. In Greenland, that's not right. So she started to worry. 

"Sure I did notice," Knudsen-Ostermann said. "You start wondering, don't you?" 

She suspected pollution was changing the climate and environment but did not know where it would have come from. "Greenland doesn't have industry as you know it in other parts of the world. So then I realized somebody else is causing the pollution," she said. "Don't understand me wrong, we also drive cars, etc., in Greenland, so we also cause pollution but not in this scale for sure." 

In Amsterdam, where she had moved with her husband, she met Jan van den Berg, who made a short documentary about persistent organic pollutants in the Arctic. Together, they decided to turn the short into a feature, "Silent Snow: The Invisible Poisoning of the World." 

"Silent Snow" will be shown Sunday, Sept. 8, at Ridgefield Playhouse. Knudsen-Ostermann and van den Berg will do a Q&A via Skype after the show. 

The movie discusses how industrial chemicals such as DDT, used in other countries, get into wind streams and the bodies of aquatic animals that migrate worldwide. In the film, Knudsen-Ostermann travels to Uganda, Costa Rica and India to talk to people whose lives are being affected by toxins. 

Van den Berg said he is shocked that Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," a 1962 expose about environmental pollutants, had so little effect. 

"The so-called dirty dozen, in the meantime they're taking about the dirty 19, still are made and used all over the world, threatening the Inuit, but also the whole world," he said. "They are just the canaries in the mine, as one of them said to me." 

Ugandan villagers talk about how they are forced to use DDT to fight malaria, even though DDT is more harmful. In Costa Rica, small farmers explain organic mosquito-fighting methods, even as large plantations use pesticides. In India, Knudsen-Ostermann meets a crusader against factory dumping. 

The visual elements in van den Berg's film show the distinctive features of these countries. He lets the commentators talk about the invisible ugliness. "We like to show the beauty of what's at stake," he said. 

Van den Berg is making a sequel to "Silent Snow" called "Silent Land," which focuses on over-farming and oppression of small farmers. 

"Sometimes people say after the screening of 'Silent Snow' that we need these poisons to feed the world. That's why we are working on 'Silent Land,' " he said. "Farmers play an essential role in fighting hunger in the local communities of many poor countries. But multinational companies buy their land and these farmers are being chased to the cities, where food is more expensive. 

"In Costa Rica, after 10 years of intensive pineapple production, nothing will grow anymore on that land. It becomes dead, silent land," he said. 

He hopes his two movies will persuade people to discuss the issue. "Of course you can't change the world with a film, but we did at least something." 

"SILENT SNOW: THE INVISIBLE POISONING OF THE WORLD" will be shown at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8, at Ridgefield Playhouse, 80 East Ridge in Ridgefield. After the screening, a Skype talk will be held with director Jan van den Berg and subject Pipaluk Knudsen-Ostermann. Admission is $10, $7.50 seniors, $5 students. Details: www.ridgefieldplay

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