America's Lost Landscape: The Tallgrass Prairie (60 Minutes, 2004)
America's Lost Landscape depicts the changes to Midwestern landscape during the past 150 years. Once covering 28 million acres of North America, and 80 percent of Iowa alone, today’s tallgrass prairie is largely converted to farmland. Narrated by actress Annabeth Gish (West Wing),America's Lost Landscape seeks to enlighten audiences of the importance and legacy of the prairie. The film documents the prairie’s past at the hands of Native Americans and Euro-Americans, and innovative efforts to preserve its future. Director David O’Shields and biologist Daryl Smith are guests of ACFF ’05.
Bird People (Vogelmenschen) (92 minutes, 2004)
An unusual and engaging peek behind the scenes of Winged Migration, the successful 2001 film by Jacques Perrin. Filmmaker Eduard Erne gives us a look at twenty "bird people";—biologists, dropouts and adventurers—who devoted four years of their lives to raising the migratory birds that are followed during migration in Winged Migration. The group members explain how they were cut off from the outside world for yearsand developed a close bond with the starring geese, swans, and pelicans in Normandy, as they worked on their motorized, camera-equipped glider. "I've cured myself of all human instincts like shame, dishonesty and nervousness,"; one of the caretakers says. A touching testament to the adaptability of animals — and their human "parents" too.
Blue Vinyl (98 minutes, 2002)
When Judith Helfand’s parents clad their home in blue vinyl, she became suspicious. Helfand sets off to explore the life cycle of vinyl–and a subsequent search for sustainable, healthier, low- risk alternative. (IF she can convince her reluctant parents to replace it!) Helfand is an engaging and humorous guide to a complex topic. She goes to great lengths to help her audience understand the science behind her subject, an approach that is complemented by some inventive cinematography. Winner of a Sundance Film Festival Award.
The Buffalo War (57 minutes, 2001)
The American bison has stood at the center of a controversy that spans more than 150 years of American history. In the American West, environmental groups, Native Americans, ranchers, and state and federal authorities are pulling in different directions, each with its own ideas for preserving the last free-roaming herds of buffalo—some 3,000 animals in Yellowstone National Park. The Buffalo War explores efforts to preserve and control this majestic symbol of the American West, an unusual story of the groups and the fate of their bovine ward. Producer/director Matt Testa is a guest of ACFF ’05.
Deep Blue (83 minutes, 2003)
Deep Blue is an innovative documentary that takes its audience on an exciting voyage through the last great frontier on Earth: the Ocean. The filmmakers have captured a world below the waves in a way that no other has, using technology that takes us where few humans have ever explored before: into the pitch-black homes of creatures so rare they’ve never been seen on film before. The result is a documentary on oceanographic life — filled with whales, sharks, and seals — that is beautiful both visually and musically. As one viewer says: "You hear their voices and experience their emotions."
The Future of Food (89 minutes, 2004)
The Future of Food, by ACFF guest filmmaker Deborah Koons Garcia, offers an in-depth investigation into genetic engineering of food crops, gene patents, and food labeling — together comprising a &fquot;revolution"; in the way U.S. industries stock grocery-store shelves. The Future of Food provides a good keynote for the festival's theme, "Conservation’s Front Lines."; It was instrumental in passing a measure banning planting of genetically engineered crops in Mendocino County, California, probably the only U.S. county government to do so.
Good Riddance (shorts)
More animated environmental wit from Nick Hilligoss, the brilliant clay animator of Turtle World, Good Riddance follows the exploits of Eco, the clean, green pest controller with a clever biological solution for every pest problem. (When looking for an ecological solution, it’s good to remember that everything is related.)
The Greatest Good: A Forest Service Centennial Film (120 minutes, 2005)
The Greatest Good is a professionally produced high-definition documentary by and about the U.S. Forest Service. Countering "unchecked exploitation"; of natural resources, the Service’s visionary founders successfully enshrined the values of their still-young conservation movement with policies and practice of the U.S. government. By the film’s own admission, it’s been a rocky road since then. It poses a valid question: In the face of a changing "vision,"; shaped by new scientific understanding, what is today’s "greatest good?"
Grizzly Man (2005) (103 minutes)
German director Werner Herzog accepted the unusual task of editing 100 hours of astonishing footage and interviews made by a man who had since died of a grizzly attack. Herzog emerged with this fascinating one-of-a-kind film. Grizzly Man is the haunting story of Timothy Treadwell, a desperate believer in the romantic ideal of Nature as innocent and kind. Treadwell lectured and fought for the preservation of grizzlies before he died in October 2003 - killed by a grizzly in Alaska’s Katmai National Park. To his credit, Herzog treats Treadwell as a fellow filmmaker and finds a compelling aesthetic in the footage. This Discovery Channel-Lion’s Gate collaboration was made for the big screen.
Here’s My Question: Where Does My Garbage Go? (26 minutes, 2000)
This is a fun film that teaches kids (K-5), as well as their parents, about waste and recycling. Directed by Ellen Hovde & Muffie Meyer with drawings by New Yorker cartoonist Ed Koren, Where Does My Garbage Go? is a great adventure about the process of collecting and dealing with trash. Songs are provided by the writers at Sesame Street. Plenty to keep young viewers interested.
In the Blood PG-13 (90 minutes, 1989)
The ACFF selection committee selected In the Blood as an interesting counterpoint to Kalahari Family. This controversial film follows the hunting education, in Africa, of a young American boy. The film raises hunting to the level of a religion—a rite of passage. Filmmaker George Butler documents an African expedition that retraces the 1908 safari of Theodore Roosevelt. Butler places his own son at the center of what becomes a lesson in "ancestral heritage."; As animals are stalked and taken down, we learn that the role of an active hunting culture as key to wildlife conservation. Viewers should be prepared to hear the drumbeat: Man’s desire to hunt is "In the Blood."
An Injury to One (53 minutes, 2002)
This film provides a compelling glimpse of a particularly volatile moment in early 20th-century American labor history in the mineral mining industry: the rise and fall of Butte, Montana. The pace is ponderous, the tone artistically "edgy," as An Injury to Onechronicles the mysterious death of union organizer Frank Little, an unsolved murder. The film associates the murder with other offenses against Butte, left with an environmental record "inscribed upon the landscape"; by Anaconda Mining Co.
A Kalahari Family: Death by Myth (90 minutes)
John Marshal's A Kalahari Family tells a remarkable story of eco-tourism, bearing witness to the power of a media myth over local reality. "There are two kinds of films,"; a Kalahari resident explains. "Films that show us in [animal] skins are lies. Films that show the truth show us with cattle, with farms, with our own water, [and] making our own plans." A Kalahari Family follows an environmental and cultural conflict involving well-meaning eco-tourism advocates, U.S. AID officials, elephants, and a struggling people made famous by films like The Gods Must Be Crazy.
A Life Among Whales (59 minutes, 2000)
A Life Among Whales describes the unique relationship between people and whales, as told by renowned whales biologist and pioneer Dr. Roger Payne who, since the early 1970s, has consistently advanced the boundaries of science and activism. The film blends Payne’s biography with natural history, including brutal images of whale slaughter from the days before whalers banned videographers from their decks. (Parents, be forewarned.) The filmmakers hope to leave viewers "contemplating our stewardship of Earth and our co-existence with some of its most intriguing creatures."
March of the Penguins (80 minutes, 2005)
This summer’s National Geographic-supported hit documentary follows thousands of emperor penguins as they embark on their annual journey across the pitiless "desert"; of Antarctic ice. Images of the penguins’ annual struggle to bear and raise chicks stay with you. "My goal is to dig from the ice a story which has never seen the light of day, for want of a teller,"; says director Luc Jacquet. "There has never been a generation of men to witness and shape it, to pass it down. They remain strangers."
Mountain Memories: An Appalachian Sense of Place (34 minutes, 2000)
Wildlife photographer Jim Clark imparts a sense of rural Appalachia’s natural beauty by combining profound patience and attention to detail, nurtured by a lifetime in the mountains of West Virginia. Clarke shares his work and his mountain upbringing in this brief film by Ray and Judy Schmitt (Real Earth Productions), who are guests of ACFF ’05. The film contains about 125 stunning images that Clarke made in the Allegheny Highlands, as he offers an interesting narrative about his career and his approach to photography.
National Bison Range: Keeping Our Bison Heritage Alive (14 minutes)
The National Bison Range is a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service introduction to the wildlife conservation area created by Theodore Roosevelt in 1908 to bring the threatened buffalo back from extinction. The American bison is the undisputed star of this show—great, shaggy creatures of prehistory that once roamed the American West in the millions. Audiences young and old can enjoy the sight of the majestic herds of bison that blanket Western hillsides, fulfilling the goals of the refuge, as well as the mission of the Fish & Wildlife Service: conserving wildlife to benefit all Americans.
Oil on Ice (59 minutes, 2004)
Winner of a 2004 Pare Lorentz Award, Oil on Ice is a vivid, compelling and comprehensive documentary about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The film examines the battle over oil development in a stunning place, featuring fascinating wildlife that has adapted to this environment, as well as the people — the Gwich’in Athabascan Indians and Inupiat Eskimos — who rely on the wildlife for subsistence. The film links the fate of the refuge to other issues that, at first glance, may seem unrelated.
Oil and Water: Reflections on Nature, Madness and Psyche (26 minutes)
Oil and Water explores the relationship between humans and the natural world. Shot in Prince William Sound, Alaska, during the course of 20 years, the film is an introspective chronicle of loss within the destruction of pristine wilderness. Filmmaker Corwin Fergus uses the tragedy of the Exxon Valdez oil spill to examine how wilderness is critical habitat not just for animals, but for the human psyche — and how thousands of years of cultural history have led us away from this once most obvious of truths. Oil and Wateris an experimental film, attempting to sway the heart in a way that cannot be done by reason and science. Mr. Fergus and editor Daniel Hammill are guests of ACFF ’05. (See Filmmakers Forum.)
Proteus: A Nineteenth Century Vision (60 minutes, 2004)
Premiering at Sundance in 2004, Proteus embarks upon a historic journey into the depths of the sea — while exploring the intersection of science and art. For 19th-century explorers, the world beneath the oceans was like the 20th-century promise of "outer space."; Proteususes the undersea world as the locus for a meditation on the troubled intersection of scientific and artistic vision. The film animates rare artworks from obscure collections, the legends of Faust and Coleridge’s Ancient Marinerand binds them together with the laying of the transatlantic telegraphic cable and other scientific discovery. The central figure of the film is biologist and artist Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), who formed a mystical vision of seeming irreconcilables: science and art, materialism and religion, rationality and passion.
Ride of the Mergansers (11.5minutes, 2004)
This entertaining film offers a literal peek into the camera-equipped "built environment"; of the reclusive and rarely seen hooded merganser duck, found only in North America. A mere twenty hours after hatching, a dozen or so merganser ducklings must leap from their nest.
Shenandoah National Park: The Gift (15 minutes, 1989)
This offering of the National Park and Monument Series tells the story of Shenandoah National Park, in Virginia, and of what brought about its change from a depleted, ravaged land to a national park of high mountains and thickly wooded valleys.
Strange Days on Planet Earth: Invaders (55 minutes, 2005)
National Geographic’s Strange Days on Planet Earthis
a series that premiered on PBS this year — a "detective story exploring
the fate of our planet."; In Invaders, we learn how a
predator species has dramatic effects on its own environment—or on
another continent! One amazing story focuses on New Orleans, where the
challenge of the moment isn’t floods, but house pests!
Strange Days on Planet Earth: The One Degree Factor (55 minutes, 2005)
From the Arctic north to the tropical isles of the Caribbean, scientists are documenting a series of perplexing phenomena many believe is linked to climate change. In The One Degree Factor, we learn about unsettling transformations sweeping across the globe, and how scientists are assembling a new picture of our Earth, where seemingly disparate events are connected. Shifts in global climate means that places such as Alaska and the northwest corner of Canada are getting more than their share of heat. Scientists try to piece together a puzzle involving the rise and fall of the porcupine caribou, the mosquitoes that distract them, dust in the Americas, and a drying Lake Chad.
2005 Student Showcase:
Leave No Trace: Appalachian Trail and The Only Water We Will Ever Have (short subjects)
These films will be presented by their producers, all regional students: Leave No Trace is a film about low-impact hiking and camping by Tara Roberts, of Shepherd University. The Only Water We Will Ever Have, by Christophile Konstas, Mindy Hirsch, and Sarah Eckles, of American University’s Center for Environmental Film-Making.
2005 Filmmakers Forum:
Deborah Koons Garcia (The Future of Food)
Ms. Garcia's film, The Future of Food, offers an in-depth investigation into genetic engineering of food crops, gene patents, and food labeling — together comprising a "revolution"; in the way U.S. industries stock grocery-store shelves. She is known as "instigator and chief creative consultant"; for Grateful Dawg a documentary about the musical friendship between her husband, Grateful Dead bandleader Jerry Garcia, and "dawg music"; mandolinist David Grisman. Ms. Garcia’s educational series All About Babies won a Cine Golden Eagle and a Gold Medal from the John Muir Medical Film Festival. Her award-winning feature film, Poco Loco, is described as a Hispanic "Midsummer Night’s Dream,"; with an organic farm as the setting. The Future of Food was instrumental in passing a measure banning planting of genetically engineered crops in Mendocino County.
David O’Shields, Daryl Smith (America’s Lost Landscape: The Tallgrass Prairie)
Director David O’Shields and biologist/consulant Daryl Smith present their film, America’s Lost Landscape: The Tallgrass Prairie, documenting the changes to American prairieland during the past 150 years. In filmmaking since 1985, David O’Shields is founder of New Light Media, a Midwestern company specializing in documentaries that deal with issues of democracy, race, American history and the environment. Dr. Smith is director of the Tallgrass Prairie Center of the University of Northern Iowa. He has been involved in prairie reconstruction and restoration for 30 years.
Corwin Fergus, Daniel Hammill (Oil and Water: Reflections on Nature, Madness and Psyche)
Corwin Fergus is an artist and psychoanalyst living in Bow, Washington. He has a master’s in filmmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute, and a diploma in Analytic Psychology from the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland. Subjects in editor Dan Hammil's diverse filmography range from go-go dancing to Abu Ghraib. The two filmmakers appear as part of the Nexus of Science and Spirit Series of public events and lectures, supported by a grant to Shepherd University from the Metanexus Institute. ACFF co-hosts two presentations of Oil & Water with Shepherd’s Office of Sponsored Research.
Matthew Testa (The Buffalo War)
Producer/director Matthew Testa discusses his first feature documentary, The Buffalo War, which documents the latest controversy surrounding the American bison. Mr. Testa works as a freelance producer in addition to developing new film projects. He has worked on documentary productions for New York Times Television, National Geographic, Showtime, The Discovery Channel and PBS. Before producing documentaries, Mr. Testa was a newspaper reporter and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he first became familiar with the buffalo story.
Ray & Judy Schmitt (Mountain Memories: An Appalachian Sense of Place)
Ray and Judy Schmitt are founders of Real Earth Productions, based in Hardy County, West Virginia. Real Earth has produced more than 30 films productions, including several award-winners. Mountain Memoriesprofiles accomplished wildlife photographer Jim Clark, who shares his work and his West Virginia upbringing. Mountain Memoriescontains about 125 stunning images that Clarke made in the Allegheny Highlands, as he offers an interesting narrative of his career and his approach to photography.
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