From Oscar-winning filmmakers Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, WILD LIFE follows conservationist Kris Tompkins on an epic, decades-spanning love story as wild as the landscapes she dedicated her life to protecting. After falling in love in mid-life, Kris and the outdoorsman and entrepreneur, Doug Tompkins, left behind the world of the massively successful outdoor brands they’d helped pioneer like Patagonia, The North Face, and Esprit, and turned their attention to a visionary effort to create National Parks throughout Chile and Argentina. WILD LIFE chronicles the highs and lows of their journey to effect the largest private land donation in history.
WILD LIFE will screen at the Mendocino Film Festival on Friday, June 2nd at 10:00 a.m. in the Festival Tent, as well as Sunday, June 4th at 10:20 a.m. at Coast Cinemas.
GROUNDWORKS travels from traditional acorn gathering spots to the studios where the “Groundworks” performance was rehearsed before being shared at sunrise on Alcatraz—nearly 50 years after the Indians of All Tribes occupied the island and brought attention to Native American rights. Originally initiated by contemporary dance company Dancing Earth Creations, the “Groundworks” project was designed to amplify the oft-forgotten Native presence everywhere in the Americas.
Groundworks weaves together four artists’ stories and their contemporary ways of sharing traditional Indigenous knowledge. By exploring their creative practices, it highlights these Native artists’ contemporary relationships to the Pomo, Ohlone, Tongva, and Wappo/Onastatis territories, languages and traditions. Their efforts to “re-story” the land through creative reclamation are important facets of the Land Back movement.
Profiled in the documentary are Ras K’dee, Pomo, a musician with ties to multiple bands in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties; Bernadette Smith, singer and dancer from the Manchester-Point Arena Band of Pomo Indians; Kanyon Sayers-Roods, a multidisciplinary Ohlone artist from Indian Canyon, a sovereign Indian Nation outside of Hollister, California; and L. Frank, a Tongva-Acjachemen artist, tribal scholar, canoe builder, and language advocate.
We spoke with director, producer, writer and cinematographer, Ian Garrett, about his film, GROUNDWORKS, via Skype on May 16, 2023.
GROUNDWORKS will be screening at the Mendocino FilmFestival on June 4 at 3pm in the Festival Tent. A special program with Coastal Pomo dancers will open the program and a panel discussion will follow.
Maria Niro is a New York City-based artist and award-winning filmmaker whose work has been broadcasted on television and screened in theatres, festivals, and museums worldwide. She is a member of New Day Films, a filmmaker-run distribution company providing social issue documentaries to educators founded by American Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, activist, and feminist Julia Reichert in 1971.
She serves on the advisory board of More Art, a nonprofit organization that supports collaborations between professional artists and communities to create public art and educational programs that inspire social justice.
As the National Gallery of Art put it for the East Coast Premiere of The Art of Un-War:
“Internationally renowned artist Krzysztof Wodiczko has dedicated his work and life to denouncing militarization and war. Maria Niro’s recent documentary The Art of Un-War follows Wodiczko’s trajectory from his birth in Warsaw during World War II, to his expulsion from Poland by the communist regime, to today. Combining sculptural elements and technology, Wodiczko’s projects often function as interventions in public spaces, disrupting the valorization of state-sanctioned aggression. Since the 1980s, his deft, site-specific projections of images onto the facades of office and government buildings have grown to incorporate recordings of personal stories told by war veterans, refugees, and immigrants, projected directly onto war memorials, often animating the busts of revered historic leaders. Niro documents many of his major works, including The Homeless Vehicle Project (1988–1989), created in collaboration with homeless communities in Montreal, Philadelphia, and New York City; The Hiroshima Projection (1999), projected onto the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, Japan; and the as-yet-unrealized project of transforming Paris’ monument to war, the Arc de Triomphe, into a temporary site for peace activism.”
As a nation, we are in the throes of a re-examination of history, but whose history, and who gets to tell it, and how do we live today with various versions of our history, that were memorialized in the past? How do we best evaluate and live with the impacts of different versions of history and the potential harm and even re-traumatization that a particular version creates?
What role does art play in this process? whose art? and for whom?
These are among the questions addressed by the filmmakers, Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman, in their documentary, TOWN DESTROYER, which screens on Friday, June 2nd, at 1:00 PM at The Coast Cinemas.
You may recall the furor over whether or not to destroy or cover up the 13 panels of the 1930s murals by Popular Front artist, Victor Arnautoff, THE LIFE OF WASHINGTON, at San Francisco’s George Washington High School. Snitow & Kaufman film students, parents, Native American activists, artists of different ethnicities, scholars, and museum directors, all against a background of vivid cinematography of the controversial panels, as well as many other relevant works of art, both at the high school, and elsewhere across the country.
Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman’s films include the award-winning “Company Town,” “Between Two Worlds,” “Thirst”, “Secrets of Silicon Valley”, and “Blacks and Jews.”
Alan was a producer at the KTVU-TV News, the Bay Area Fox affiliate, for 12 years. Before that, he was an award winning News Director at KPFA-FM. He has served on the Boards of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, Film Arts Foundation, California Media Collaborative, Food and Water Watch, and much more.
Deborah Kaufman founded and for 13 years was Director of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, the first and largest independent Jewish film showcase in the world. She has been a Board member of the California Council for the Humanities, the New Israel Fund, and Amnesty International USA. She has been a consultant, programmer, lecturer, and activist with a variety of human rights, multicultural and media arts organizations.
We spoke with Deborah and Alan on May 8, 2023 via Skype.
The documentary, BODY PARTS, traces the evolution of “sex” on-screen from a woman’s perspective, uncovering the uncomfortable realities behind some of the most iconic scenes in cinema history and celebrating the courageous individuals leading the way for change. It’s an eye-opening investigation into the making of Hollywood sex scenes, shedding light on the actors’ real-life experiences, and tracing the legacy of exploitation of women in the entertainment industry, as well as recent hard fought changes in that industry.
On May 1, 2023, we spoke with Director, Kristy Guevara-Flanagan, and Producer, Helen Hood Scheer, about BODY PARTS, which will be screening at this year’s Mendocino Film Festival at Crown Hall on Sunday June 4 at 1pm.
Kristy Guevara-Flanagan is an Associate Professor at UCLA’s School of Theatre, Film and Television, where she heads the MFA Directing Documentary concentration. She has been making documentary films that focus on gender and representation for nearly two decades, starting with a 1999 experimental documentary about a blow-up doll (which screened at the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art, among other venues). Guevara-Flanagan’s documentary and experimental films have screened at the Sundance, Tribeca, SXSW, and HotDocs film festivals and the Getty Museum. Her work has been broadcast on PBS and the Sundance Channel, received numerous awards, and been funded by ITVS, the Sundance Institute, the Tribeca Institute, Latino Public Broadcasting and California Humanities.
Helen Hood Scheer is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, freelance producer, and associate professor at California State University Long Beach, where she spearheads the creative nonfiction track and serves as the internship advisor for students in the Department of Film and Electronic Arts. In 2023, she won CSULB’s Distinguished Teaching Award. Throughout her instruction, service, and professional work, Helen is a strong advocate for students. In 2020, she received the Advancement of Women Award from the CSULB President’s Commission on the Status of Women, and both Helen and her students were featured in Claiming the Director’s Chair, an article expressing the CSU’s commitment to preparing the next generation of female filmmakers for California’s multi-billion dollar entertainment industry.
Katherine S. Newman became the Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs of the University of California in January of 2023. She was simultaneously appointed as the Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at U. C. Berkeley. Dr. Newman is the author of fifteen books on topics ranging from technical education and apprenticeship, to the sociological study of the working poor in America’s urban centers, middle class economic insecurity under the brunt of recession, and school violence on a mass scale. She has written extensively on the consequences of globalization for youth, on the impact of regressive taxation on the poor, and on the history of American political opinion on the role of government intervention.
Her latest, co-authored with Elizabeth S. Jacobs, a senior fellow in the Center on Labor, Human Services and Population at the Urban Institute, is MOVING THE NEEDLE: WHAT TIGHT LABOR MARKETS DO FOR THE POOR, published this month by the University of California Press. We spoke with Dr. Newman on April 24, 2023.
We end this edition of Forthright Radio with audio from the last floor speech that Montana’s first transwoman elected to Montana’s State Legislature, Zooey Zephyr, before she was censured by the necessary 2/3 vote of House on April 26, 2023. Her offense? Calling out that the gender affirming health care they were outlawing would result in deaths, and used the phrase, “blood on their hands.”
Articles pertinent to this edition of Forthright Radio:
On May 5th & 7th, Intermountain Opera concludes their 2022-23 season with a performance of Verdi’s opera, Rigoletto. We spoke with Intermountain Opera’s Artistic Director, Michael Sakir, about the opera and his work with Intermountain Opera.
You can find Olivia Weitz’s segment on Yellowstone Public Radio about Intermountain Opera’s Wheels of Harmony Tour:
The Bozeman Doc Series afforded us the opportunity to interview the filmmaker of the film, of THE LAKE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD, Kathy Kasic, and the ‘main character,’ Professor of Ecology in the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences at MSU Bozeman, John Priscu.
He has been organizing expeditions since 1984. He is a principal investigator in the McMurdo Dry Valleys Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) project and SALSA, the Subglacial Antarctic Lakes Scientific Access project, which is the subject of this film. His work, and the work of his teams, have revolutionized our understanding of our Earth, as well as the diversity of life on our planet and beyond.
Kathy Kasic is a director/cinematographer and Associate Professor at California State University Sacramento. Twenty years ago she traded researching evolutionary biology in the Ecuadorian Amazon for filmmaking. Since then her artistic vision and craving for adventure have brought her to film off the bow of a ship, underwater in wild mountain rivers, and on the ice fields of Greenland and Antarctica. Using a sensorial emphasis on place to unveil the human relationship with the natural world, her 100+ productions have appeared at international festivals, on television (BBC, Discovery, Smithsonian, PBS, National Geographic), art galleries, museums (The Hirshhorn, Portland Art Museum, The Crocker), and won numerous awards. Most recently, Kasic field directed for BBC’s Earth Shot: Repairing Our Planet (feat. David Attenborough and Prince William) and directed The Lake at the Bottom of the World, a sensory vérité feature film about an international team of scientists exploring a subglacial lake 3,600 feet beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. She has been part of three National Science Foundation grants and mentored 12 graduate students. She believes that filmmaking is a way to give voice to what is not voiced, to see and hear more deeply, and to foster compassion across cultures.
THE LAKE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD will be screening at the Emerson Crawford Theater on Sunday, April 30th, 2023 at 7pm.
You may recall the horrifying news that hit the airwaves on March 26, 2018 about a van that had driven off the 100 foot cliff on HWY 1 just south of Juan Creek between Rockport and Westport on the north coast of Mendocino County, CA. Bad as the initial reports were, as more was learned about what had actually happened and what led up to it, the horror only grew.
Texas based journalist, Roxanna Asgarian, began investigating the tragedy within a day. Her investigations since have resulted in her book, WE WERE ONCE A FAMILY: A STORY OF LOVE, DEATH, AND CHILD REMOVAL IN AMERICA, published in March, 2023 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
She writes it as the true crime story that it certainly is, but her primary goal was to uncover the untold stories of the birth families of the six Black children taken from their families, who did NOT want to give them up, and who were making efforts to keep them, when the deeply flawed child welfare system thrust them first into the foster care system, and then fast tracked them into out of state adoptions.
Roxanna Asgarian reports about courts and the law for the Texas Tribune. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, New York Magazine and Texas Monthly, as well as other publications. She received the 2022 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award for WE WERE ONCE A FAMILY: A STORY OF LOVE, DEATH, AND CHILD REMOVAL IN AMERICA. It goes well beyond the earlier, sensationalist reportage by the mainstream press and delves into the systems and history that allowed this murder/suicide to happen. We spoke with her via Skype on April 10, 2023.
Tragic as this story of innocent children taken from their birth families by a Child Protection Service system which purports to protect children, it is but one aspect of our society that does NOT protect innocent children.
Once again, another mass shooting at a school ended in the murder and traumatizing of children, this one at the Covenant School in Nashville, TN, which led to protests at the State Legislature, the expulsion of two young black representatives, their unanimous reinstatement to represent their districts, and more diverse voices calling out the politicians only too happy to maintain the status quo.
One mourns the loss of the Hart children, particularly Devonte Hart, whose famous “hug heard around the world” – showing Devonte’s tear streaked face at the age of 14 hugging a white police officer during a tense demonstration protesting the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. He, with his “Free Hugs” sign, would have been 20 years old now. What might he have become, had his life not been cut short, his body never found?
The broadcast ended with Cheryl Wheeler’s song, “If It Were Up to Me,” which you can hear using this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Op7agdIFOGY. It is sadly even more relevant than when she first recorded it in 1997.
In this edition of Radio Goes to the Movies, we inquire about a new documentary from Bozeman based Grizzly Creek Films with director, Eric Bendick, PATH OF THE PANTHER.
Drawn in by the haunting specter of the Florida panther, it follows a wildlife photographer, veterinarians, ranchers, conservationists, and Indigenous people, who find themselves on the front lines of an accelerating battle between the forces of renewal and the forces of destruction that have pushed the Everglades to the brink of ecological collapse.
Once ubiquitous in North and South America, but now perched on the edge of extinction, this perilously small, sole remaining population of the panther east of the Mississippi is an emblem of our once connected world. A vision of what could be again.
We spoke with the Emmy Award winning director of Path of the Panther, Eric Bendick, about his work and this powerful new film via Skype on April 5, 2023.
It will be premiering on the National Geographic/Disney+ channel on April 28, 2023.
Source: FloridaWildlifeCorridor.org; Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.