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Murray State Cinema International, Watershed Studies Institute Partner to Present "The Human Element" This Week

In honor of upcoming Earth Week and the 2024 Four Rivers Watershed Sustainability Festival, Murray State's Cinema International program and Watershed Studies Institute have partnered to present the environmental documentary The Human Element this week. Daniel Hurt speaks to Cinema International program director Dr. Thérèse St. Paul and biology professor Dr. Howard Whiteman about the upcoming screenings, which will close out the Cinema International Spring 2024 season.

The Human Element focuses on the critical role humans play in the environment, utilizing James Balog's photography to show how climate change has impacted Americans' everyday lives. As Whiteman explains, the film "is really about how humans are involved in the environment and how we are not only part of the problem. But we're also part of the solution. We have to consider ourselves that way."

St. Paul says the film has a lot of compassion and heart. "It is a wonderful documentary. It inspires us to reevaluate our relationship with the natural world of which we are part. This filmmaker likes to look at how human activity is part and parcel of the natural world, if its air, water, earth, or fire. And if one of these elements gets into imbalance through human activity, then everything gets out of balance. That is the problem we're facing right now with climate change."

"The film does not just talk about catastrophe," St. Paul continues. "This is one that shows hope. So, as he ventures into common people's lives, looking ahead at how they live and what they do and how human action changes their lives, he even goes into Kentucky coal country, meeting unemployed miners, finding hope for a new source for their livelihood." St. Paul says that, according to the film, there is a fifth element, which is the human element, that can bring the whole system back in balance. She said she hopes that people come away from the film with a sense of responsibility but also a lot of hope for the future and the possibility of changing things for the better.

Cinema International and the Watershed Studies Institute present The Human Element on Thursday, April 18, and Saturday, April 20, at 7:30 pm in Faculty Hall, room 208. Whiteman will lead a discussion after each screening. Both the screenings and post-film discussions are free and open to the public.

For more information on the Cinema International program, including how to donate as it prepares for its upcoming Fall 2024 season starting in August, visit its website.

More information on the Four Rivers Watershed Sustainability Festival can be found here.

Hurt is a Livingston County native and has been a political consultant for a little over a decade. He currently hosts a local talk show “River City Presents”, produced by Paducah2, which features live musical performances, academic discussion, and community spotlights.
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