In this edition, recorded on May 16, 2018, we interview three of the producers of INVENTING TOMORROW, an inspiring documentary that features six passionate teenage scientists from Indonesia, Hawaii, India and Mexico, creating cutting-edge solutions to the world’s environmental threats-right in their own backyards. It follows them, as they eventually journey to compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018.
(L-R) Producer Diane Becker, director Laura Nix and producer Melanie Miller
Laura Nix is known for her films The Yes Men Are Revolting (2014) as well as The Yes Men Fix the World (2009), The Light In Her Eyes (2011) about Houda al-Habash, a conservative Muslim preacher, founded a Qur’an school for girls in Damascus, Syria when she was just 17 years old. Her work in film goes back to 1997.
Melanie Miller is known for her work on Detour (2013), and Alaska Is a Drag (2017). Her film work goes all the way back to 2001 as associate producer on the Liars Club
Diane Becker has films going back to 2006, including Five Came Back(2017), Homegrown: The Counter-Terror Dilemma (2016), Legion of Brothers (2017), Jaco (2015) and many more.
(L-R) Melanie Miller, Laura Nix, Jose Manuel Elizade Esparanza, Fernando Miguel Sanchez Villalobos, Sahithi Pingali, Shofi Latifa Nuha Anfaresi, Jared Goodwin, Diane Becker, Jesus Alfonso Martinez Aranda
Project ENEV063T: Bangka’s Tin Sea Sand-Fe3O4 as a Removal of Heavy Metals in By-Product of Tin Ore Processing (above): Intan Utami Putri Shofi Latifa Nuha Anfaresi Banka, Indonesia
Project EAEV008 – An Innovative Crowdsourcing Approach to Monitoring Freshwater Bodies
above: Sahithi Pingali in Bangalore, India
Project EAEV018 – Arsenic Contamination through Tsunami Wave Movement in Hawaii: Investigating the Concentration of Heavy Metals in the Soil from the 1960 Hilo, Hawaii Tsunami
Jared Goodwin is from Hilo, Hawaii
Project CHEM059T: Photocatalytic Ceramic Paint to Purify Air
Fernando Miguel Sanchez Villalobos Jesus Alfonso Martinez Aranda Jose Manuel Elizade Esparaza above: in Monterrey, Mexico
When not producing films, Diane, Laura and Melanie can be found promoting science in other ways.
We continue our annual Radio Goes to the Movies series featuring films screening at the 18th annual Mendocino Film Festival. In this segment we speak with Kimberly Reed, who is the director, and co-producer, writer of DARK MONEY. It’s a political thriller, which examines one of the greatest present threats to American democracy: the influence of untraceable corporate money on our elections and elected officials. The film takes viewers to Montana—a frontline in the fight to preserve fair elections nationwide—and follows an intrepid local journalist, working to expose the real-life impacts of the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
Kimberly Reed’s work has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, NPR. One of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film,” she directed/produced the film, PRODIGAL SONS, and was recognized as one of OUT Magazine’s “Out 100.” Her other films include PAUL GOODMAN CHANGED MY LIFE and THE DEATH AND LIFE OF MARSHA P. JOHNSON, which listeners can actually view now on Netflix.
Billings Republican candidate, Debra Bonogofsky, became suspicious when her election was thwarted by last minute inaccurate, malicious ads and mailings, the source(s) of which could not be traced. She filed suit with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices.
Powerful Republican Representative Art Wittich’s name, along with eight other 2010 Republican candidates, first appeared on documents found in three boxes discovered in Colorado. Based on this and other information, Wittich was included in the investigation on the complaint filed with the commissioner of political practices by Debra Bonogofsky against Dan Kennedy and unnamed “others.”
Underfunded and understaffed, Jonathan Motl, MT Commissioner of Political Practices doggedly followed slim leads, ultimately filing indictments.
Gene Jarussi (foreground) was appointed Special Attorney General. He served pro-bono and spent thousands of hours preparing the case. From left to right: Art Wittich, his attorney from Missouri, Lucinda Luetkemeyer, with Jonathan Motl behind Jarussi.
Tenacious investigative journalist, John Adams, persevered after his job with Lee family paper, Great Falls Tribune, was eliminated. He then founded the MT Free Press, and was crucial in finding the truth about Dark Money in MT.
Quinn Costello, editor & co-producer of the documentary, RODENTS OF UNUSUAL SIZE, share his thoughts & experiences in creating this joyful exploration of the “Giant Swamp Rats Are Literally Eating Louisiana”.
Hard headed Louisiana fisherman Thomas Gonzales doesn’t know what will hit him next. After decades of hurricanes and oil spills he faces a new threat – hordes of monstrous 20 pound swamp rats. Known as “nutria”, these invasive South American rodents breed faster than the roving squads of hunters can control them. And with their orange teeth and voracious appetite they are eating up the coastal wetlands that protects Thomas and his town of Delacroix Island from hurricanes. But the people who have lived here for generations are not the type of folks who will give up without a fight. Thomas and a pack of lively bounty hunters are hellbent on saving Louisiana before it dissolves beneath their feet. It is man vs. rodent. May the best mammal win.
Award winning non-fiction filmmakers Quinn Costello, Chris Metzler and Jeff Springer have traveled to many corners of the world in search of unique stories highlighting the important environmental, scientific and cultural issues of contemporary society. With the success of documentary projects as varied as PLAGUES & PLEASURES ON THE SALTON SEA, THE NEW ENVIRONMENTALISTS and EVERYDAY SUNSHINE: THE STORY OF FISHBONE they have gone on to screen their work at SXSW and Tribeca along with national TV broadcasts on PBS and the Sundance Channel. Along the way they have continued to pursue other sub-cultural documentary subjects, including: rogue economists, lucha libre wrestlers, ganja-preneurs and evangelical Christian surfers.
The filmmakers of RODENTS OF UNUSUAL SIZE grew up in different parts of the country, but a passion for the swamp sealed their pact. Cajun Reeboks were donned and the journey began in search of the notorious “nutria rat”. Four years after first setting sail for Louisiana they emerged from the bayou covered in mosquito bites and an unwavering love for a place at the “End of the World” that is bursting with joy.
One person’s pest is another person’s pet.
Native to South America, nuria were introduced to the Bayou to be farmed for fur production during the Great Depression. Some escaped, and with no natural predators, they out-populated the native muskrats. Their numbers were kept somewhat in check until the anti-fur movement of the 1980s wiped out the fur market.
The population soon sky-rocketed to more than 25 million, literally eating the wetlands & causing tremendous environmental destruction. The state of Louisiana instituted the Nutria Control Program, which pays $5/tail.
Righteous Furs, a collective of fashion designers, prides themselves in utilizing nutria pelts. Their motto is “Save Our Wetlands. Wear more nutria.”
Efforts to create a nutria cuisine have been less successful.
BURNED: ARE TREES THE NEW COAL? tells the little-known story of the accelerating destruction of our forests for fuel, and probes the policy loopholes, huge subsidies, and blatant green-washing of the burgeoning biomass power industry.
A dedicated group of forest activists, ecologists, carbon scientists, and concerned citizens fight to establish the enormous value of our forests, protect their communities, debunk this false solution to climate change, and alter energy policy both in the US and abroad. The directors/producers of BURNED, Alan Dater & Lisa Merton say, “It’s not too late.”
Alan Dater has decades long experience in many different aspects of film making, working on such films as “Johnny Cash! The Man, His World, His Music”; Emmy Award winning TV medical series, as well as National Geographic Specials. He moved to Vermont in the 1970s, where he started Marlboro Productions.
Lisa Merton joined him in 1989. Together, she & Alan have co-directed/produced such films as HOME TO TIBET, about a Tibetan refugee’s return to his homeland, and TAKING ROOT: THE VISION OF WANGARI MAATHAI, founder of the Green Belt Movement of Kenya, & the first environmentalist, as well as African woman, to win the Nobel Peace Prize. It won numerous international awards. Since 1996, Lisa has been a member of New Day Films, a documentary film collective.
Jenny Murray’s film, ¡LAS SANDINISTAS! chronicles the crucial role of women combatants in Nicaragua’s successful revolution to overthrow the decades long dictatorship of the Somoza family.
Using stunning archival footage from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, and contemporary interviews with women who had survived resistance to the brutal repression, poverty, disease, economic inequality and social injustice, the film focuses on the major Sandinista General, Dora María Téllez, as well as four of her revolutionary allies. Fully 30% of the FSLN – The Nicaraguan Sandinista Liberation Front – were women.
General Dora María Téllez entering Léon after leading the assault of Nicaragua’s second largest city. It was a major turning point.
After the success of the revolution, women filled crucial ministerial roles in health and culture, achieving historic success before the Reagan administration’s blockade and backing of the Contras diverted the all-too-scarce resources needed to continue their programs. Dora María was Minister of Health from 1985 – 1990, succeeding Lea Guido.
Now, 35 years later, amidst staggering levels of gender violence in Nicaragua, and while their own stories are being erased from the history books, these same women brave the streets once again to lead the popular movements for equality and democracy.
Poet, Daisy Zamorra, became Minister of Culture after serving as an FSLN combatant and the voice/program director of the clandestine Radio Sandino. In spite of her dramatic success, she was “fired” after refusing the unwanted advances of a member of The (all male, 9 member) Directorate. She is now a professor in San Francisco.
Monica Baltodano “La Jefa” was a Sandanista general, who led the crucial assault on Masaya. She worked in the movement for several decades, and after experiencing the corruption and authoritarianism, she left in 2005 to form the Movement to Reclaim Sandinismo, known as El Rescate.
Dora María Téllez founded the MRS (Sandinista Renovation Movement) for democratic reforms in 1994. The struggle continues – as do the women.
QUEST, the new film by Santiago Rizzo, is autobiographical, based on his relationship with an amazing Berkeley Willard Middle School teacher and coach, Tim Moellering, and his “PROMISES NEVER BROKEN.”
Co-written with Tim Moellering, Santiago promised him to make the movie as he died.
Tim Moellering, beloved Willard Middle School coach. After his death, Berkeley named a baseball field in his honor.
Santiago credits Tim with helping him overcome his abusive home life.
Dash Mihok plays Tim and Gregory Kasyan plays “Mills”.
Lou Diamond Phillips plays the stepfather, “Gus”. Betsy Brandt plays his mother, “Ruth”.
Lakeith Lee Stanfield plays “Diego”, Mills’ older artist friend, who paints the “Trust Your Struggle” mural above to honor him.
TIM’S TOP 10 RULES TO LIVE BY
Have empathy for everyone.
Put yourself in someone else’s skin and walk around in it.
Tell the truth.
You’ll have less to remember. You know you never lied and eventually people will trust you.
Do what you say you were going to do. Even if it means showing up on time. People will trust you.
Assume Positive Intent.
If they are incompetent, so be it, but it doesn’t hurt you to assume they are doing their best.
Be Physically Active.
It’s better than any drug. It’s fun and can be a boon to your social life. If you are running an errand, walk or ride a bike because you’ll feel better. It may not be obvious at first but it adds up.
Just do it.
If the choice is between sitting around and doing nothing or doing something, do something every single time.
Don’t blame anyone.
No one is to blame for anything. Only you can change what you do. If you blame someone else, you can’t solve the problem. Instead, you are telling someone else to solve the problem. If you don’t blame then you will be able to take control.
Your possessions can be replaced.
People are obsessed with their possessions. Letting your possessions control you is a terrible way of living. When you can let them go, you become free. There’s little relationship between wealth and happiness.
Seize the Day. Accomplish something everyday. Otherwise you’re wasting time. There’s always something wonderful to experience. Go do it.
Solve your problems.
Some people like to have problems so they have something to complain about. Don’t waste time. It also gives you something to do. Something to strive for.
This film is so many things. It’s a family history of sorts, hence the title, THE HOUSE ON COCO ROAD, but it’s also a chronicle of the historic revolution in the tiny island of Grenada by the New Jewel Movement (Joint Endeavor for Welfare, Education and Liberation), co-founded by Maurice Bishop and Bernard Coard, and the destabilization under the Ronald Reagan regime, leading to the invasion and overthrow of the government there. As if that weren’t enough, it also chronicles the rise – and government repression of – revolutionary Black Activism in the United States, featuring Angela Davis and her sister, Fania Davis, as well as the director’s mother, Fannie Haughton. I don’t know how they got this all into a mere 79 minutes, without making it feel rushed or overfull, but the result is a beautiful, important film rich in both historical facts and emotional, social and cultural realities.
Damani Baker is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, who is one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 new faces in independent film”. His career spans documentaries, music videos, museum installations and advertisements. Some of Damani Baker’s documentaries include The House on Coco Road, which revisits the events and circumstances of the 1983 U.S. invasion of Grenada, and Return, an award-winning film that explores the genius of traditional African medicine. He directed music videos for Maiysha’s single “Wanna Be”, which was nominated for a 2009 Grammy, and Morley’s “Women of Hope”, inspired by pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi. His first feature documentary, Still Bill, was on the life and music of Bill Withers. His current projects include over 10 films for museums in Nigeria and Chattanooga, Tennessee. These films include interviews with President Bill Clinton, Dr. Kofi Annan and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. In addition, he is a professor at Sarah Lawrence College’s Film and New Media Department, the director of the Quest forGlobal Healing Film Series in Bali, Indonesia and media collaborator with the International Budget Partnership, tracking government transparency through budgets around the world.
Belvie Rooks is a producer of The House on Coco Road. She is Co-Founder of Growing a Global Heart. She is a writer, educator and producer whose work weaves the worlds of spirituality, feminism, ecology and social justice. She is a former board member of Bioneers, The Urban Habitat Program, and the Positive Futures Network/Yes Magazine, and is currently Chair of the Board of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, as well as a board member of the Institute for Noetic Sciences, and the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation. She is a Core Faculty member of Holy Names University’s Culture and Spirituality Program.
Her published works have appeared in a number of books, publications and anthologies including: The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult by Alice Walker (Scribner); My Soul is a Witness: African American Women’s Spirituality (Beacon Press); she was Co-Editor of Paris Connections: African American Artists in Paris, which was an American Book Award winner.
Fannie Haughton is Damani Baker’s mother, whose family moved from share cropping in Louisiana to Los Angeles in the 1950s. After having been told she “wasn’t college material”, she did very well at Cal State LA & transferred to UCLA, where she met Angela Davis, becoming her Teaching Assistant, as well as life long friend and supporter. After experiencing the repression of Black Activists and the deteriorating situation in urban America in the Ronald Reagan presidency, she moved her young family to Grenada in 1982.
Angela Davis was a young political activist and philosophy professor at UCLA, when she refused to disavow her membership in the Communist Party & was fired under the Ronald Reagan governorship. She was prosecuted for conspiracy involving the 1970 armed take-over of a Marin County, CA courthouse, in which 4 people were killed, but she was acquitted.
Fania Davis is Angela Davis’s sister and good friend of Fannie Haughton. They considered fleeing to Cuba to avoid the repression associated when Angela went under ground after being accused of conspiracy in the George Jackson/Marin County courtroom take over.
As Governor of CA, Ronald Reagan ordered the firing of Angela Davis from UCLA, as well as other repressive measures, including the closing of most of the state’s mental institutions, without providing for the displaced inmates.
As president, in Ronald Reagan’s imagination, the 10,000 airstrip being built on the tiny island of Grenada (12 mi x 21 mi, population 100,000) with international assistance to increase tourism, and with private firms from the U.S., Britain doing much of the work, could only be explained as Soviet/Cuban militarization. He ordered destabilization of the new government and then, an invasion by the US military.
9 year old Damani Baker’s experience was quite the opposite. Grenada was a place safe for children, where the Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop, was like an uncle, women had positions of power and health care was a right. He & his family hid under their bed during the 3 days of US bombardment of what had been their paradise.