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Whole Foods Film Festival Moves Online

Whole Foods Market is taking its annual Do Something Reel Film Festival online for the first time this year.

In 2011, the national grocery chain held screenings in 70 different cities during the month of April. This year the festival will feature a different environmental or food-themed film each month that can be purchased and streamed online for a limited time.

The festival opens April 22, with a live screening of The Apple Pushers, followed by a panel discussion with the film's writer and director, Mary Mazzio; executive producer, Laurie Tisch; and celebrity chef, food policy advocate and founder of Wholesome Wave, Michel Nischan. The discussion will take place Whole Foods Market's hometown of Austin and streamed for free to online viewers.

The Apple Pushers can be viewed online from April 22-30. The film narrated by Edward Norton - follows five immigrant street-cart vendors who are offering fruits and vegetables in New York neighborhoods where fresh produce isn't widely available. The vendors take part in a unique urban experiment called The NYC Green Cart Initiative, and their stories shed new light on the nation's food crisis and skyrocketing obesity rates.

The films slated through August are:

Watershed – Directed by Mark Decena, executive produced by Robert Redford and produced by his son, James Redford, the film follows Rocky Mountain National Park fly fishing guide, Jeff Ehlert, and six others living and working in the Colorado River basin. The film illustrates the river's struggle to support thirty million people across the western U.S. and Mexico as the peace-keeping agreement known as the Colorado River Pact is reaching its limits. (May)

Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? – A profound, alternative look at the bee crisis from Taggart Siegel, award-winning director of "The Real Dirt on Farmer John." On a journey through the catastrophic disappearance of bees and the mysterious world of the beehive, the film weaves together a story of the heart-felt struggles of beekeepers, scientists and philosophers from around the world and uncovers the long-term causes that could create one of our most urgent food crises. (June)

Ian Cheney Retrospective: King Corn and Truck Farm – Each of the films Cheney has created or co-created spotlights an important environmental or food issue, from mobile gardens to the subsidized crops fueling our fast-food nation. Cheney was last year's Whole Foods Market and AFI-Silverdocs grant recipient for his new work-in-progress, "Bluespace." (July)

Lunch Line – Co-directed by Ernie Park and Michael Graziano, this film offers a fresh perspective on the politics of food and child-nutrition through an examination of the surprising past, uncertain present, and possible future of the National School Lunch Program. The film reframes the school lunch debate through archival footage, expert interviews, and the uplifting story of six kids from one of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago who set out to fix school lunches — and end up at the White House. (August)

"Taking this year's Do Something Reel Film Festival online provides an opportunity for audiences everywhere to connect with the films and their thought-provoking issues," said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market. "Such connection and exploration can be the starting place for real change; it helps us all think about how our everyday decisions and purchasing power can make a difference."

The festival's proceeds will help fund two $25,000 AFI Silverdocs grants for filmmakers in the green genre. Applications are available at from March 21 to May 4.

Bart King is a PR consultant and principal of Cleantech Communications.

Bart King is the principal of New Growth Communications, a network of affiliated content producers and strategists serving clients in the emerging green economy. He is also Associate Editor of Sponsored Content for Sustainable Brands. Follow him @bart_king [Read more about Bart King]

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