A startling boom coming from the Chevron refinery in Richmond, CA opens the film. This explosion of smoke and fire seems frightening, but to residents of the economically desperate Northern Californian town, this disaster is all too common due to the country’s ongoing dependency on coal and oil.

Catching the Sun, executive produced by Entourage‘s Adrian Grenier, is a new documentary that uses this occurrence in Richmond to promote the larger, environmentally-friendly issue of using clean energy, both nationally and globally. 

Just a short drive over the bridge from Richmond is Marin County, where organic food is abundant and a focus on green living is at the forefront. The subjects in this documentary are shown as just beginning to discover alternative energy, by way of enrolling in job training classes that focus on solar installation.

Unlike many social/environmental documentaries out there today, Catching the Sun does a good job of breaking down the issues and explaining in welcomed, simple terms, how solar energy works and benefits the average American.

 

This leads to a conversation about the benefits of solar energy and how switching to natural resources would result in less dependence on coal and big refineries. The bigger picture to this community means no more explosions and a better quality of life all around.

One of the spearheads of the movement, and our enthusiastic guide throughout the film, is civil rights activist and New York Times Bestseller Van Jones. Jones’ non-profit organization, “Green For All,” is located in Oakland and operates on the slogan of “The greenest solutions for the poorest people.”

Unlike many social/environmental documentaries out there today, Catching the Sun does a good job of breaking down the issues and explaining in welcomed, simple terms, how solar energy works and benefits the average American. Footage of Van Jones and other companies explaining the theory behind clean energy to its trainees also educates the audience without random facts and numbers being thrown up on screen, making us interested and engaged the entire time.

Directed by award-winning filmmaker and activist Shalini Kantayya, Catching the Sun inspires the environmentalist in all of us; by teaching a group of people a skill that betters the community and the planet, everyone wins. The Beatles’ ever-optimistic “Here Comes the Sun” plays us out, a very fitting and uplifting last note.

Catching the Sun is playing on June 15th at 3:15 PM during the LA Film Fest. Tickets here.

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