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ACFF SPECIAL EDITION

Fall 2014 | Vol 3 No 1

american conservation film festival 2014 n the dance between conservation & art

the meaning of wild | photo Justin De Shields


AMERICAN CONSERVATION FILM FESTIVAL By Amy Mathews Amos

October 30– November 2

2014

At ACFF, we like to think of each year as a journey. We start the year soliciting great conservation films from around the world. As spring rolls around we begin screening the dozens of submissions we receive, choosing the best and regretfully passing on those that don’t quite fit. In the summer we reach out to filmmakers and other speakers to enhance our program. And in the fall we pull off a remarkable four-day event with conservation films and discussion throughout Shepherdstown. The 2014 festival is a bit of a journey all its own. Films like America’s Amazon and the Battle for Turkey Creek reveal sides of the South most of us have never seen before. The Meaning of Wild and DamNation take us out West to explore America’s untamed wilderness and perhaps overly-tamed rivers. We cross the world’s oceans in Maidentrip, climb mountains in Africa in Snows of the Nile and rediscover an extinct Australian species in Sticky. We See complete schedule of films, page 12. LOCATION KEY BCLS Byrd Center for Legislative Studies NCTC National Conservation Training Center OH Shepherdstown Opera House RH Reynolds Hall 2 | fluent

even travel back in time, to when passenger pigeons blocked out the sky in From Billions to None. But of course there’s no place like home, and Invasive fills us in on the voracious snakeheads now lurking in the Potomac. No need for plane tickets. Just come to the 12th American Conservation Film Festival October 30–November 2. You can find the full schedule at conservationfilm.org. Some highlights of the 2014 American Conservation Film Festival:


AMERICA’S AMAZON, 58 min Filmmakers: Lynn Rabren, Ben Raines The Mobile-Tensaw Delta is the most bio-diverse area in North America. This film provides a visually stunning look at the region, covering everything from the ancient climatic forces that shaped its evolution to its remarkable biological richness to current issues putting increased pressure on its fragile ecosystems. 6:45 pm Thursday BCLS, Block 1, followed by Q&A with Ben Raines photo America’s Amazon

BIG MEN, 99 min — Filmmaker: Rachel Boynton — Big Men takes us on a journey deep into the African oil industry in Nigeria and Ghana, delivering an exposé on the ambition, corruption and greed of oil companies. This film profiles citizens of Ghana and Nigeria whose lives are held hostage as corporations try to maximize profits and exploit the natural resources. 8:45 pm Friday, OH, Block 5 photo Big Men


COME HELL OR HIGH WATER: THE BATTLE FOR TURKEY CREEK, 56 min Filmmaker: Leah Mahan This film follows the journey of Derrick Evans, a Boston teacher who moves home to coastal Mississippi when the graves of his ancestors are bulldozed to make way for the sprawling city of Gulfport. Over the course of a decade, Derrick and his neighbors stand up to powerful corporate interests and politicians and face Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil disaster in their struggle for self-determination and environmental justice. 7:00 pm Saturday, RH, Block 12 DAM NATION, 94 min — Filmmakers: Ben Knight, Travis Rummel, Matt Stoecker — Dam removal has gone beyond the Monkey Wrench Gang and gone mainstream. Where obsolete dams come down, rivers bound back to life, giving salmon and other fish the right to return to spawning grounds. DamNation’s majestic cinematography moves through rivers and landscapes altered by dams. It also captures

a metamorphosis in values, from conquest of the natural world to knowing ourselves as part of nature. 8:30 pm Saturday, RH, Block 12 photo Ben Knight

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LOCATION KEY BCLS Byrd Center for Legislative Studies EMPTYING THE SKIES, 75 min Filmmaker: Douglas Kass, Roger Kass Songbird populations have been drastically declining for several decades, and a number of species face extinction. Based on Jonathan Franzen’s article in The New Yorker, Emptying the Skies chronicles the rampant poaching of migratory songbirds in southern Europe. This film follows an intrepid group of bird-lovers who risk their lives waging a secret war against poachers and the illegal trapping of songbirds. 1:30 pm Saturday, NCTC – Byrd, Block 7

NCTC National Conservation Training Center OH Shepherdstown Opera House RH Reynolds Hall

GROUND OPERATIONS: BATTLEFIELDS TO FARMFIELDS, 40 min Filmmakers: Dulanie Ellis, Raymond Singer Ground Operations: Battlefields to Farmfields champions combat vets who are rebuilding their own lives as organic farmers & ranchers and revitalizing their communities with access to local, affordable, fresh, healthy food. These heroes blow the lid off stereotypes and you’ll be rooting for them all the way to your farmers market. 5:30 pm Sunday, BCLS, Block 17, followed by Q&A

photo Emptying the Skies/©-thierry-nicaise

FROM BILLIONS TO NONE, 57 min — Filmmaker: David Mrazek, Joel Greenberg — From Billions to None reveals how the passenger pigeon, once numbering in the billions in North America, was hunted to extinction in a matter of decades. On September 1, 1914, Martha, the last passenger pigeon in captivity, died in the Cincinnati Zoo, marking the centenary of the extinction. 8:15 pm Thursday, BCLS, Block 1, with Awards Presentation and Q&A with David Blockstein, Joel Greenberg and David Mrazek, and 4:24 pm Sunday, OH, Block 16 Photo From Billions to None


photo Growing Cities

GROWING CITIES, 58 min — Filmmaker: Dan Susman — Growing Cities is an inspiring new film about urban farming in America. It follows gardeners and everyday people who are transforming their communities one vacant lot, beehive, and rooftop farm at a time. Along the way, viewers discover urban agriculture is about a whole lot more than simply good food. 4:30 pm Sunday, BCLS, Block 17

INVASIVE, 9 min Filmmakers: Ethan Oser, Gabriel Felder, Paul Blake The Northern Snakehead is a monster and has invaded the Potomac River, but Maryland and Virginia have very different ways of dealing with this invasive species. Do we leave them be or eat them until they are all gone? [S] 7:00 pm Friday, BCLS, Block 4 followed by Q&A with Ethan Oser photo Invasive

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ISLAND OF LEMURS: MADAGASCAR, 39 min Filmmakers: David Douglas, Drew Fellman Morgan Freeman narrates the incredible adventures of nature’s greatest explorers — lemurs. Originally an IMAX 3D release, this family-friendly film takes audiences on a spectacular journey to the remote and wondrous world of Madagascar, where lemurs arrived millions of years ago as castaways. They’ve since evolved into hundreds of diverse species, but are now highly endangered. 12:00 pm Saturday, NCTC–Family, Block 7, followed by Q&A discussion with primatologist Mireya Mayor photo Island of Lemurs: Madagascar

photo Love in the Tetons

LOVE IN THE TETONS, 9 min Filmmakers: Amy Marquis, Dana Romanoff Fifteen years ago, Juan Martinez stepped off a bus in Grand Teton and saw the stars for the first time in his life. This debut film in the NPX series reveals the journey that led Juan to the Tetons, his wife and his renewed vision of the American Dream. 5:05 pm Saturday NCTC–Byrd, Block 9 and 2:45 pm Sunday, OH, Block 15

LOVE THY NATURE, 75 min — Filmmaker: Sylvie Rokab — Narrated by Liam Neeson —  Love Thy Nature takes viewers on an awe-inspiring cinematic journey into the beauty and intimacy of our relationship with the natural world. Neeson is the voice of “Sapiens” — our collective humankind — who faces possible death due to the severity of Earth’s environmental crisis. Inspired by experts’ insights, Sapiens awakens to the realization that a renewed connection with nature holds the key to a highly advanced new era in human evolution. 9:00 pm Saturday, OH, Block 11

LOCATION KEY BCLS Byrd Center for Legislative Studies NCTC National Conservation Training Center OH Shepherdstown Opera House RH Reynolds Hall

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MAPPING THE BLUE, 29 min — Filmmaker: Alison Barrat In 2012 the Cook Islands announced the largest Marine Park on Earth. In stunning 4K imagery this film tells the story of how Kevin Iro, founder of the park, and his team use a high-tech GIS system to designate multi-use areas inside the pristine park. 1:40 pm Saturday, OH, Block 6 followed by Q&A with Alison Barrat

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photo Living Oceans Foundation

photo First Run Features

MAIDENTRIP, 82 min — Filmmakers: Laura Dekker, Jillian Schlesinger Fourteen-year-old Laura Dekker sets out, camera in hand, on a two-year voyage in pursuit of her dream to be the youngest person ever to sail around the world alone. In the wake of a year-long battle with Dutch authorities, and global media scrutiny, Laura finds herself far from land, family and unwanted attention, exploring the world in search of freedom and adventure. 8:00 pm Thursday, OH, Block 2


SEARCH FOR THE BIG SEVEN, 26 min Filmmaker: Francois Odendaal Five youngsters set off on a wild adventure in the vast Addo Elephant National Park, the only place in the world where the Big Seven are found. Close encounters with magnificent beasts teach them more about themselves and our role as custodians of a small blue planet. 1:30 pm Saturday, NCTC – Family, Block 8

SCHOOL’S OUT, 36 min Filmmakers: Lisa Molomot, Rona Richter No classroom for these school children: This film takes us to a kindergarten in Switzerland where children ages 4 to 7 spend every day outside in the forest. The film follows the children, educators and parents through one school year and looks at an educational structure that embraces environment and exploration. 2:15 pm Saturday NCTC – Family, Block 8 and 2:15 pm Sunday, BCLS Block 13

photo Snows of the Nile

SNOWS OF THE NILE, 20 min — Filmmakers: Nate Dappen, Neil Loin — Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains rise 5000m from the heart of Africa. At their summits, are some of Earth’s only equatorial glaciers. Snows of the Nile follows two scientist/photographers on an expedition to retrace the steps of the Duke of Abruzzi’s legendary 1906 expedition and re-capture the famous glacier photographs taken by Vittorio Sella in order to visualize the impacts of a century of climate change. 7:15 pm Thursday, OH, Block 2, followed by Q&A with Nate Dappen

photo School’s Out

RETURN TO THE TEPUIS, 10 min Filmmaker: Jenny Nichols “I hear the most beautiful sound in the world,” says Dr. Bruce Means referring to the call of a toad that he and his expedition team travelled to the tops of the Tepuis of South America to find. In this short film, the team braves the elements and Means’ first time repels into crevices in search of the elusive pebble toad. 7:00 pm Thursday, OH, Block 2


photo Sticky

STICKY, 20 min Filmmaker: Jilli Rose Exiled from the tropical paradise where they evolved, a handful of remarkable stick insects clung to life on a single, windswept bush on the world’s tallest sea stack for 80 years. Now they’re back from the brink of extinction, but when can they go home? Sticky tells a wonderfully positive Australian conservation success story, celebrating the persistence of life, the adventure and passion embedded in science, and the little creatures underfoot. 12:55 pm Saturday, OH, Block 6 and 2:55 pm Sunday, OH, Block 15

TRASH DANCE, 68 min Filmmaker: Andrew Garrison Choreographer Allison Orr finds beauty and grace in garbage trucks, and in the unseen men and women who pick up our trash. Filmmaker Andrew Garrison follows Orr as she rides along with Austin sanitation workers on their daily routes to observe and later convince them to perform a most unlikely spectacle. On an abandoned airport runway, two dozen trash collectors and their trucks deliver — for one night only — a stunningly beautiful and moving performance, in front of an audience of thousands. 7:00 pm Saturday, OH, Block 11, followed by Award Presentation and Skype Q&A with Andrew Garrison and 5:30 pm Sunday, OH, Block 16

“Glass calm sunset in Fords Terror - Tracy Arm Fords Terror Wilderness,” photo Justin DeShields

THE MEANING OF WILD, 30 min — Filmmaker: Ben Hamilton — The Meaning of Wild takes viewers on a journey through one of our nation’s wildest landscapes, the Tongass National Forest of Alaska. The film follows wildlife cameraman Ben Hamilton as he travels by boat, plane, kayak and foot to share the true value of wilderness. 3:15 Saturday, NCTC, Block 9 and 2:12 Sunday, OH, Block 15


LOCATION KEY BCLS Byrd Center for Legislative Studies NCTC National Conservation Training Center OH Shepherdstown Opera House RH Reynolds Hall

UNACCEPTABLE LEVELS, 90 min Filmmaker: Ed Brown On average, all of us have over 232 industrial chemicals floating around in our bodies, and the research is showing that this is now a huge reason for concern. From health care to regulations, we explore every angle of this issue to provide others with the big picture so people can make up their own minds to determine what is acceptable in their own lives. 4:40 pm Saturday, OH, Block 10

photo “Muddy Boots,” ML Lincoln

WRENCHED, 93 min Filmmaker: ML Lincoln Wrenched captures the passing of the monkey wrench from the pioneers of eco-activism to the new generation which will carry Edward Abbey’s legacy into the 21st century. The fight continues to sustain the last bastion of the American wilderness — the spirit of the West. [some profanity] 6:30 pm Friday, NCTC – Byrd, Block 3 fluent

WE ARE THE LAND, 14 min — Filmmakers: Drew Heskett, Lauren Lindberg, Ryan Westra — Amidst national controversy surrounding the potential dangers of hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking,’ environmental activist Pauline Matt stands alone to protect her native homeland — the Blackfeet Reservation of northern Montana. [S] 8:00 pm Saturday, RH, Block 12, with Student Film Award Presentation, and 4:00 pm Sunday, OH, Block 16

photo We Are the Land

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2014 ACFF SCHEDULE THURSDAY, OCTOBER 30 OPENING NIGHT

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 1

BLOCK 1: BYRD CENTER FOR LEGISLATIVE STUDIES 6:45 America’s Amazon, followed by Q&A with Ben Raines 8:15 Broadcast Award Presentation for From Billions to None, followed by Q&A with David Blockstein, Joel Greenberg and David Mrazek

BLOCK 6: OPERA HOUSE 12:30 Well Fished [S] 12:55 Sticky 1:15 Earth, Water, Woman 1:40 Mapping the Blue, followed by Q&A with Alison Barrat 2:30 The Last Ocean

BLOCK 2: OPERA HOUSE 7:00 Return to the Tepuis 7:15 Snows of the Nile, followed by Q&A with Nate Dappen 8:00 Maidentrip Opening Night Gathering at domestic restaurant 117 East German Street (Cash Bar) 10:00 – midnight

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31 BLOCK 3: NCTC BYRD AUDITORIUM FREE OF CHARGE 6:30 Wrenched (WARNING: Some profanity) BLOCK 4: BYRD CENTER FOR LEGISLATIVE STUDIES 7:00 Invasive [S] followed by Q&A with Ethan Oser 7:30 Nokhoi Zeekh: In Search of Wolverine 7:40 The Race to Save Pennsylvania’s Bats 8:15 The Phantom Wolves of Sun Valley BLOCK 5: OPERA HOUSE 8:45 Big Men Green Carpet Costume Party at domestic restaurant (Cash Bar) 10:00 – midnight

BLOCK 7: NCTC BYRD AUDITORIUM FREE OF CHARGE 12:00 Island of Lemurs: Madagascar, followed by a Q&A with Mireya Mayor 1:30 Emptying the Skies BLOCK 8: NCTC FAMILY THEATER FREE OF CHARGE 1:30 Search for the Big Seven 2:00 America’s Wilderness: Dinosaurs in the Desert—Petrified Forest Wilderness 2:06 The Green Ninja: Styrofoam Man [S] 2:15 School’s Out 3:00 A Penguin’s Life in the City 3:03 Crazy Monster Frog BLOCK 9: NCTC BYRD AUDITORIUM FREE OF CHARGE 3:00 America’s Wilderness: We Remember—A History of the Saguero 3:10 America’s Wilderness: North Cascades Wilderness— Experience the Awesome 3:15 The Meaning of Wild 4:15 Aerial America: Wilderness 5:05 Love in the Tetons, followed by Q&A with Juan Martinez and Vanessa Torres BLOCK 10: OPERA HOUSE 4:00 Postcards from Climate Change—Postcard from Asheville 4:10 Postcards from Climate Change—Postcard from the Rockaways followed by Q&A with Melissa Thompson 4:40 Unacceptable Levels

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continued BLOCK 11: OPERA HOUSE 7:00 Trash Dance, followed by Green Fire Award Presentation and Skype Q&A with Andrew Garrison 9:00 Love Thy Nature BLOCK 12: REYNOLDS HALL 7:00 Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek 8:00 Student Award Presentation for We Are the Land [S] 8:30 DamNation Saturday Night Wrap Party at the Blue Moon Café (Cash Bar) 10:00 – midnight Sponsored by Fallon Insurance and Younis Orthodontics

SHEPHERDSTOWN LOCATIONS Byrd Center for Legislative Studies (BCLS) 213 North King Street on Shepherd University Campus Opera House (OH) 131 West German Street NCTC Byrd Auditorium (NCTC-Byrd) 698 Conservation Way – Main Building domestic restaurant 117 East German Street

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 2 BLOCK 13: BYRD CENTER FOR LEGISLATIVE STUDIES Join us for this DOUBLE BLOCK of Community Interest Films 12:00 Ticked Off: The Mystery of Lyme Disease 1:00 The New Green Giants 2:15 School’s Out 3:00 The Hailey Community Climate Challenge BLOCK 14: OPERA HOUSE 12:00 PSA: What does it take to restore the Chesapeake Bay 12:08 From the Field: American Black Duck 12:15 Passion for Pike 12:45 Carpe Diem: A Fishy Tale BLOCK 15: OPERA HOUSE 2:00 America’s Wilderness: Dinosaurs in the Desert—Petrified Forest Wilderness 2:12 The Meaning of Wild 2:45 Love in the Tetons 2:55 Sticky BLOCK 16: OPERA HOUSE 2014 Award-Winning Films 4:00 We Are the Land [S] 4:24 From Billions to None 5:30 Trash Dance BLOCK 17: BYRD CENTER FOR LEGISLATIVE STUDIES 4:30 Growing Cities 5:30 Ground Operations: Battlefields to Farmfields, followed by a Q&A

NCTC FAMILY THEATER (NCTC-Family) 698 Conservation Way–151 Instructional West Building REYNOLDS HALL (RH) 109 North King Street on Shepherd University Campus Blue Moon Café 200 East High Street (Corner of Princess & High streets)

For additional information: www.conservationfilm.org

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THE DANCE BETWEEN RIGHT FROM THE START, I was captivated by this film. Choreographer Allison Orr’s (right) enthusiasm was infectious, her vision unique, and her personality irresistible. Filmmaker Andrew Garrison introduces her to us by asking the ultimate question; namely, what’s this all about? It’s two days before her big show — the show in which the nervous staff and big trucks and impressive equipment of Austin’s trash department will perform a sort of mechanized dance before an overflow crowd in a vast parking area on a rainy summer night. The film is called Trash Dance, and it’s the Green Fire Award winner at this fall’s American Conservation Film Festival (ACFF) in Shepherdstown. u

Choreographer Allison Orr’s unique vision led to a sold-out performance by workers and equipment from the Austin, Texas trash department.

BY AMY MATHEWS AMOS 14 | fluent

photo Amitava Sarkar. Courtesy of Forklift Danceworks


&

CONSERVATION ART

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Allison doesn’t immediately anwer that question, and so throughout the film we’re left to ponder it on our own. On the surface, one could say it’s about appreciation: Appreciating the hard work that goes into collecting the unfathomable amount of garbage a city like Austin, Texas generates each week. One might also say it’s about awareness: Forcing people to think about the unthinkable volume of waste they generate every day. A conservationist (like me) might be searching for those markers in a film submitted to a conservation film festival, particularly when she sits on the selection committee for that festival (as I do). But to be honest, those markers aren’t there. In fact, while working shifts with the collection crews to understand their work and help shape her vision for the dance, Allison asks trash collector Charles Ledbetter if he ever gets depressed on the job, seeing all the stuff that people throw away. Charles bluntly answers no, because all that garbage keeps him in a job. Enough said. In this single scene, Andrew quickly

dispenses with the trite perspective that a largely liberal white audience might expect, and moves on to what the project — and the film — is really all about.

Trash Dance inspires the best in people by illuminating others’ art. He follows Allison and the crew through the months leading up to the performance as she scopes how the department’s different divisions — recycling, litter abatement, trash collection, yard waste and dead animal removal — operate, and the interests and talents of the people who operate them. What emerges isn’t sadness, but pride. Pride in providing needed city services. Pride in rising at 2:30 am when everyone else is asleep, putting in a hard day’s work, and handling

Don Anderson makes his crane dance during rehearsal.

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photo Andrew Garrison


photo Andrew Garrison

Performers take their bows with choreographer Allison Orr.

tasks that others couldn’t hack. Pride in kids and families and working a second job to make ends meet. A wise and warm choreographer, Allison recognizes the individual talents each worker brings to the project and integrates them into the show. Orange Jefferson is a master harmonica player, Anthony Phillips a competitive roller break-dancer, Don Anderson a truck rodeo winner (yes, there is such a thing) and Ivory Jackson a hip-hop composer. In on-camera interviews, the largely African-American and Latino workers share their multi-faceted lives beyond trash, and the reasons why they decided to donate so much of their precious time to the crazy white lady’s project. We meet the individuals behind the garbage collectors. So why is Trash Dance an award winner at a conservation film festival? Because it’s a great film and because it inspires. Trash Dance the film is a masterful metaphor for Trash Dance the performance. The cinematography is often a dance in itself: When a crew is cleaning up after a crowded street festival, Andrew sets their efficiently coordinated movements to music, as perfectly timed as the receptacle one worker expertly sends skittering through traffic to the disposal truck across the street. But more broadly, Allison reveals at the end of the film what her project is all about: Namely, providing people the opportunity to show themselves — in a very personal way — to folks

they may never see again, and for people who don’t even know each other to leave feeling more connected through a shared experience. And that’s exactly what Andrew Garrison accomplished with his film. He allows us to connect with the crew as individuals, not just trash collectors, despite our geographic or socioeconomic differences. ACFF’s mission is to promote outstanding film and the arts to educate and inspire people to become engaged in conservation. Saving the world doesn’t happen without the vision to see what’s possible and the inspiration to overcome the inevitable obstacles. And it doesn’t happen unless we all recognize our shared experience on Earth. Trash Dance inspires the best in people by illuminating others’ art. For that reason, it’s one of the highlights of the 2014 festival. Oh yeah — and it reminds us to reduce, recycle and reuse, too. fluent See Trash Dance at ACFF: Saturday, 7 pm, Opera House, Shepherdstown, WV, Trash Dance, followed by Green Fire Award Presentation and Skype Q&A with filmmaker Andrew Garrison Sunday, 5:30 pm, Opera House fluent | 17


The Bridge Fine Art & Framing Gallery

“Abstractions” • Through October 25 • Featuring art by Fran Skiles, Joe Mayer, Don Black, Evan Boggess, Joan Keith, Colleen Clapp, Thom Davis & 10 more artists

8566 Shepherdstown Pike, Shepherdstown WV 25443 • 304.876.2300 Fine Art, Ceramics, Photography & Custom Framing

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