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Documentary film director Ben Kalina has always loved going to the beach, but he doesn’t think beach areas are good places to build, especially now, with seas rising because of climate change.
Kalina’s feature-length documentary “Shored Up” takes a close look at the issue.
“It’s about what kinds of things can [happen] when we settle in places that aren’t very hospitable to developers,” he said.
“Shored Up” is the first of five documentaries, plus a comedy, being presented through April by the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown as part of its new independent film series, On Screen/In Person.
The series is funded by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program.
The series starts with “Shored Up” on Sunday, Sept. 29, and includes a Q&A session with Kalina.
A Vermont native, Kalina studied filmmaking at Vassar College and earned a Master of Fine Arts in film at Temple University.
Interested in environmental issues since he was 10 years old, he was a producer of “A Sea Change,” a 2010 documentary about the acidification of the ocean.
“Shored Up” was shot in the community of Harvey Cedars on Long Beach Island, a barrier island off the coast of New Jersey, that was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. Locations also include the Outer Banks of North Carolina, which are also barrier islands.
Communities sometimes try to replenish beaches by dredging sand from the sea bottom to fortify the eroding beach, Kalina said, but that can lead to unintended consequences.
The practice can create sharp drop-offs in the sea bottom and also cause waves to break on shore instead of in the water, changing the natural ecology of the beach, he said.
Also a major issue is the public cost of replacing damaged buildings close to the ocean.
“Developers go into this with their eyes wide open,” said Kalina.
“It’s about who’s taking the risk for private investment properties,” he said.
Each of the five other screenings will also include a visit by the filmmaker and a panel discussion about the issues raised in the film.
“It’s an opportunity to engage the community, not just have people leave afterward,” said Lynne Kingsley, director of marketing and communications for the BlackRock Center.