Saturday, December 12, 2015

AIFF 2015: Stink! Report

Drove gingerly downtown in the new snow.  Didn't want to end up like this guy who was parked about as close as you could get to the AK Exp Theater, where I'm headed soon.  At least he missed the fire hydrant.

But I kept walking down to the Snow Goose for Stink!

Stink! is one of those films I think everyone should see.  This young man's wife has recently died of cancer and he buys some pajamas for his little girls for Christmas.  But when they open the package there's a strong chemical smell.  So he calls the company they come from - Justice - to find out what chemicals are in them.

This leads to a long trail - including finally sending them to a chemical testing lab - to find out why companies won't reveal their chemicals.  There are interviews with various proponents of labeling chemicals in products and banning known carcinogens, interviews with lobbyists and a pro-chemical lobby congress member.  Footage of congressional hearings.

Every film makes me think about the criteria of a good documentary.  I've address this at length during other festivals.  In this case the strength is taking a complex subject, getting the basic issues, and clarifying them in a compelling way.  Adding in his family issues in this regard makes it a little more personal.

The basic points I got were:

Chemical industry has hijacked legislation by
Lack of transparency protecting them from disclosing chemicals in their products - particularly behind the term 'fragrance'
not banning know carcinogens
not requiring that chemicals be proven safe before using them in products
Europe and even China in some instances have higher standards than the US
While chemical industry says the amounts in their products are minor, this doesn't account for the accumulated impacts of all the exposure people get from all over
New borns have been found to have close to 200 non-human-natural chemicals

There's lots more alarming information.  I highly recommend this.  Don't by the perfume the filmmaker concocted to prove how easy it was to get approval.  He called it "Ignorance is Bliss" but since he put urine in it, it could have been called "Ignorance is Piss."

Pam Miller talking with audience after Stink!
Pam Miller of Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ATAC) was there to talk with audience members about the film and the Alaska Toxic-Free Children's Act (HB 199/SB111) which
"would ban ten toxic chemicals used as flame retardants in children's products and upholstered furniture in Alaska."

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