2017 Environmental

2017 Tahoe Film Fest: Environmental Selections


Environmental Selection

Trophy – USA – South Africa (2017)

Directed by:  Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz

Endangered African species like elephants, rhinos and lions march closer to extinction each year. Their devastating decline is fueled in part by a global desire to consume these majestic animals. Trophy investigates the powerhouse industries of big-game hunting, breeding and wildlife conservation. Through the eyes of impassioned individuals who drive these industries – from a Texas-based trophy hunter to the world’s largest private rhino breeder in South Africa – the film grapples with the consequences of imposing economic value on animals. Trophy will leave you debating what is right, what is wrong and what is necessary in order to save the great species of the world.

Nominated for the Grand Jury Documentary Prize at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival

An Inconvenient Truth

Environmental Selection

An Inconvenient Sequel:  Truth to Power – USA (2017)

Directed by:  Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk

More timely than ever, this rousing follow-up to the Oscar winning An Inconvenient Truth – which more than a decade ago brought climate change into the popular consciousness – charts former Vice President Al Gore’s ongoing mission to help try to solve our climate crisis before it’s too late. The years since the original film have seen Gore’s predictions sadly come to pass, as evidenced by a sobering tour of areas around the globe already impacted by rising sea levels and record-breaking temperatures. But all is not dire in this inspirational film, which also details how close we are to an alternative energy revolution, Gore’s training of an army of climate leaders to spread his message, and his pivotal role in influencing global climate policy.

A selection at both the Sundance Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival

From the Ashes

Environmental Selection

From the Ashes – USA  (2017)

Directed by:  Michael Bonfiglio

From the Ashes captures Americans in communities across the country as they wrestle with the legacy of the coal industry and what its future should be under the Trump Administration. From Appalachia to the West’s Powder River Basin, the film goes beyond the rhetoric of the “war on coal” to present compelling and often heartbreaking stories about what’s at stake for our economy, health, and climate. The film invites audiences to learn more about an industry on the edge and what it means for their lives.

From the Ashes premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 26, 2017

Print courtesy of National Geographic Films


Environmental Selection

Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution (USA) 2017

Directed by:  Jamie Redford

Filmmaker Jamie Redford embarks on a colorful journey into the dawn of the clean energy era as it creates jobs, turns profits, and makes communities stronger and healthier. Unlikely entrepreneurs in the communities from Folsom, CA to Georgetown, TX to Buffalo, NY reveal pioneering clean energy solutions while Jamie’s discovery of how clean energy works, and what it means at a personal level, becomes the audience’s discovery too. Reaching well beyond a great story of technology and innovation, the film als explores issues of human resilience, social justice, embracing the future, and finding hope for survival.

Print courtesy of HBO and the Redford Center

No Mans Land

Environmental Selection

No Man’s Land – USA (2017)

Directed by:  David Byars

With unfettered access, director David Byars gives a detailed on-the-ground account of the 2016 standoff between protesters occupying Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and federal authorities. After the leaders of this occupation put out a call to arms via social media, the Malheur occupiers quickly bolstered their numbers with a stew of right-wing militia, protesters and onlookers. What began as a protest to condemn the sentencing of two ranchers quickly morphed into a catchall for those eager to register their militant antipathy toward the federal government. During the 41-day siege, the filmmakers were granted remarkable access to the inner workings of the insurrection as the occupiers went about the daily business of engaging in an armed occupation. No Man’s Land documents the occupation from inception to its dramatic demise and tells the story of those on the inside of this movement – the ideologues, the disenfranchised, and the dangerously quixotic, attempting to uncover what draws Americans to the edge of revolution.

Nominated for Jury Award – Best Documentary Feature – Tribeca Film Festival

Print courtesy of The Film Collaborative

Standing Rock

Environmental Selection

Rise: Two Films (2017)

Rise: Sacred Water – Standing Rock (2017) – 50 minutes
Rise: Poisoned River (2017) – 44 minutes

Directed by:  Michelle Latimer

RISE is a vibrant, gripping and immersive documentary series that takes us to the frontlines of global indigenous resistance.

The people of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation of North and South Dakota are fighting to stop a pipeline from being built on their ancestral homeland. The Dakota Access Pipeline would snake its way across four states, bisecting sacred Indigenous sites and burial grounds along the route. The tribe fears that a leak could contaminate the Missouri River and spell disaster for the Great Sioux Nation. But water protectors are standing up in unprecedented numbers to preserve their way of life for future generations and to defend their sacred water.

Poisoned River examines indigenous life in the modern age and gives viewers a rare glimpse into Brazil’s Krenak People as they struggle to survive in the wake of a massive toxic spill that has not only contaminated their drinking water, but also their hunting grounds and culture.

Director Michelle Latimer will introduce the film

The Age of Consequences

Environmental Selection

The Age of Consequences – USA (2016)

Directed by:  Jared P. Scott

The Age of Consequences investigates the impacts of climate change, resource scarcity, migration, and conflict through the lens of US national security and global stability. Whether a long-term vulnerability or sudden shock, the film unpacks how water and food shortages, extreme weather, drought, and sea-level rise function as accelerants of instability and catalysts for conflict. Left unchecked, these threats and risks will continue to grow in scale and frequency, with grave implications for peace and security in the 21st century. Military veterans and Pentagon insiders take us beyond the headlines of the European refugee crisis, the conflict in Syria, the social unrest of the Arab Spring, the rise of radicalized groups like ISIS, and lay bare how climate change stressors interact with societal tensions, sparking conflict. The film’s unnerving assessment is a call to action to rethink how we use and produce energy. In any military strategy, time is the most precious resource.

The New Environmentalists

Environmental Selection

The New Environmentalists – USA (2016)

Directed by:  John Antonelli

Narrated by:  Robert Redford

The New Environmentalists – from Peru to Tanzania – share a common goal – safeguarding the Earth’s natural resources from exploitation and pollution, while fighting for justice in their own communities. This Emmy award winning series features inspiring portraits of six passionate and dedicated activists. These are true environmental heroes who have placed themselves squarely in harm’s way to battle intimidating adversaries while building strong grassroots support.

Under the Arctic Sky

Environmental Selection

Under An Arctic Sky – USA (2017)

Directed by:  Chris Burkard

The film follows six surfers along with adventure photographer Chris Burkard and filmmaker Ben Weiland as they seek out unknown swell in the remote fjords of Iceland’s Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. Chartering a boat, they depart from Isafjordur on the cusp of the largest storm to make landfall in twenty-five years. With the knowledge that storm brings legendary swell, the crew are optimistic, but face failure when the storm forces them back to shore. Making the decision to carry the expedition on by road they experience the brutality of Iceland’s winter and being to question if searching out the unknown is worth risking their lives for. Despite setbacks the team pushes on and finds that uncertainty is the best ingredient for discovering the unimaginable. 

Under An Arctic Sky premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 23, 2017

Print courtesy of Sweatpants Media

Beyond the Brink

Environmental Selection

Beyond the Brink – USA (2017)

Directed by:  James Thebaut

Beyond the Brink focuses on California’s San Joaquin Valley and the ever increasing difficulties for farmers and the local produce industry die to drought and water scarcity. The San Joaquin Valley is representative of a global crisis due to dwindling sources of agriculture around the planet. As these agricultural “food baskets become increasingly unable to produce for its dramatically growing population, the critical ramifications on the social fabric and our national security become obvious. The film also examines a multitude of solutions and technologies currently being formulated, invented and utilized in modern day agriculture.

Director James Thebaut will introduce the film


Environmental Selection

Jane – USA (2017)

Directed by:  Brett Morgan

No one had studied Africa’s chimpanzees in the wild before 26-year-old Jane Goodall set up camp in Tanzania’s Gombe forest. This documentary, using never-before-seen 1960s footage by famed National Geographic photographer Hugo van Lawick, captures that revolutionary encounter. Narrated by Jane herself – with a moving original score by Philip Glass – shows the young researcher at work, jade eyes focused, her wry smile barely hiding her disbelief that her childhood dream has come true. As the chimpanzees grow to trust Jane, she sits among them, until she’s feeding and grooming them. Jane fell in love in Africa: with science, with the animals, and with Lawick, whom she married. Yet Jane kept returning to Gombe and her wild family. Today, Jane’s loose ponytail is white, but her message, which still rocks science, is unwavering – intelligence and compassion are not ours alone – but shared. Thus, we must protect Africa’s wildlife.

Premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on September 10, 2017

Water and Power


Water & Power:  A California Heist – USA (2017)

Directed by:  Marina Zenovich

Emmy award-winning director Marina Zenovich’s Water & Power: A California Heist, executive produced by Academy Award winner Alex Gibney and produced by Jigsaw Productions, unfolds like a real-life version of the 1974 film noir “Chinatown,” uncovering the ruthless exploits of California’s notorious water barons, who profit off the state’s resources while everyday citizens endure a debilitating water crisis. In the midst of a historic drought that has left many residents without access to safe drinking water, this film peels back the layers of California’s history of water manipulations and examines pivotal events that now jeopardize the state’s groundwater reserves, putting at risk the future of its fertile farmlands – which provide nearly half the country’s fruits, nuts and vegetables.

Water & Power: A California Heist premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival

Print courtesy of National Geographic Films

(Environmental Section)

What Lies Upstream

Environmental Selection

What Lies Upstream – USA (2017)

Directed by:  Cullen Hoback

In this detective story, filmmaker Cullen Hoback investigates the largest chemical drinking water contamination in a generation. But something is rotten in state and federal regulatory agencies, and through years of persistent journalism, we learn the shocking truth about what’s really happening with drinking water in America. What Lies Upstream is a powerful document for the world at large on the perils of believing government organizations and corporations will take care of the human species. Cullen Hoback has discovered what the protesters of Standing Rock, the Flint activists and the unsung heros of many environmental groups. We all must join in the movement to protect water now and for generations to come.

Winner – Documentary Competition Award – Seattle International Film Festival

Nominated – Grand Jury Prize – Dallas International Film Festival

Print courtesy of The Film Collaborative