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State of the Arts


Published August 13, 2008 at 6:51 a.m.

On YouTube, tens of thousands of hits in a day gets you lots of comments from snarky teenagers. In the Climate Matters Video Contest sponsored by Middlebury environmental startup Brighter Planet, that level of attention could give some lucky filmmakers the chance to influence U.S. environmental policy in years to come.

Right now, Brighter Planet is inviting the public to post 30- or 60-second original eco-themed films on video-sharing site The 10 videos with the most views per day will be shown to a panel of notable judges, ranging from Bill Stetson of the Vermont Film Commission to Dark Knight star Maggie Gyllenhaal. Brighter Planet - teaming up for this project with national environmental campaign 1Sky - plans to present all 10 clips to both presidential candidates and other law makers at a D.C. event in October. The first-prize winner, chosen by the panel, gets a $3000 Visa Gift Card from Brighter Planet. (Founded by Middlebury prof Jon Isham and two of his students in 2005, the company offers consumers a Bank of America card that buys carbon credits with each purchase.)

The goal of the contest is to "give Americans everywhere the opportunity to inspire our next president to take bold climate action," according to a Brighter Planet press release. Online rules specify that the filmmaker can't campaign for anyone in particular: "The content of the video must relate to climate change and not to the support of or opposition to any candidate . . ." They are, however, encouraged to promote their vids to potential viewers and drive traffic to the site.

The submission period ends on September 22 at 5 p.m. For info and rules, check out


By now, plenty of Vermonters of all ages know Po, the corpulent bear who dreams of fighting like Jet Li in Kung Fu Panda. On Sunday, August 17, some of them will get to meet the 37-year-old director who co-helmed the DreamWorks computer-animated hit. Turns out Mark Osborne is a native of Woodstock, where he'll speak at a special 4 p.m. screening at Town Hall Theatre, hosted by Pentangle Council on the Arts.

Osborne lived in town from about ages 4 to 14, and his family still makes Green Mountain pilgrimages every summer, says Pentangle Executive Director Partridge Boswell, who knows the filmmaker's relatives through his own in-laws: "small-town connection, that sort of thing." When he heard about Kung Fu Panda, he contacted Osborne through the director's mother and arranged a four-day visit. "They were so busy they were going to forgo their annual Vermont trip, but we twisted his arm."

Before directing Panda, which has grossed $211 million since its June 6 release, Osborne made animated and live-action shorts, including the Oscar-nominated More. He also directed a couple of episodes of "Spongebob Squarepants," where his brother Kent has worked as a staff writer.

Osborne will introduce the flick and answer questions afterward, says Boswell, adding, "I'm very curious to know what else he's working on now." A sequel to Panda is reportedly already in the works . . .