Thu05052016

News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill Road home April 27 and...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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Local filmmaker brings light to dangers of chemicals


Nachman

When “The Human Experiment” makes its world premiere at the Mill Valley Film Festival Oct. 6, it will fall five days short of the 38th anniversary of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act – a bill that allowed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to scrutinize commercial chemicals prior to their use by manufacturers.

This is an appropriate coincidence, considering that the film, written, co-produced and co-directed by Los Altos filmmaker Dana Nachman and narrated and executive produced by actor Sean Penn, explores the risks consumers face through exposure to everyday chemicals.

The Toxic Substances Control Act inventory lists more than 84,000 chemicals, but only several hundred are tested for consumer safety. Given the disconcerting statistic, Nachman responded with a film that unravels assumptions.

“We think that this issue is one of the biggest environmental disasters of our time, one that most people haven’t even thought of,” Nachman said.

What began as a reporting assignment for Nachman during her years in television journalism grew into an interest she couldn’t resist exploring. A mother of two, she imagined that other parents would be as outraged as she was by how lax chemical regulations were in the U.S. compared to Europe and China.

“When I learned that most of the products we use in our homes and our lives are not vetted for the market, I was shocked,” she said. “Usually when I find something shocking, it turns into my next documentary.”

With a number of documentary films under her belt, Nachman joined colleague Don Hardy to develop “The Human Experiment” three years ago. Crisscrossing the country from residences in the Bay Area to the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C., the film investigates the dangers of chemicals found in common household products and questions why the EPA has not modified chemical testing in 38 years.

Moving moments

Skirting the line between education and social activism, Nachman noted that “The Human Experiment” is intended as a wake-up call to audiences. She thinks her film could be the next “An Inconvenient Truth,” the 2006 documentary on global warming.

“I think people intuitively want to know why we see kids with cancer, with learning disabilities, more than we did when we were kids,” Nachman said. “We think this movie puts it out there on a more level playing field of what is actually happening so that mothers and fathers and all of us can have the knowledge and then take the risk.”

The documentary follows a group of people from different walks of life, from an infertile couple to a mother with an autistic son, who are dedicated to changing policy in Congress. A politically conservative lobbyist trying to eliminate polyvinyl chloride from construction products joined them. “The Human Experiment” weaves a diverse set of perspectives to tell the story of the hidden risks behind chemicals and issues a call to action for Americans to take control of the situation.

With support from Penn, scheduled to appear at a question-and-answer session at the Mill Valley premiere, Nachman said she is confident that the film will take off. The first showing is sold out, and she recently received a call accepting the documentary into a “major European film festival.”

Nachman plans to bring the film back to Los Altos for viewing in local schools. An advocacy toolkit will accompany the documentary to inform people how they can join consumer activists to effect change.

“Even if we make several hundred people more aware, we’ve done our job,” she said.

Although shedding light on critical issues and documenting the stories of inspiring people motivate Nachman, more importantly, she said, she does the work for her children.

“I just want everything I do to really help my kids down the road,” she added.

To purchase tickets for the Mill Valley showing, visit mvff.com.

For more information on the film, visit thehumanexperimentmovie.com.

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