2019 Film Festival

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Important Stuff

2019 TEFF Poster

More Important Stuff


Reception Saturday, April 13 from 4 to 6pm Closing Reception, April 21 from noon to 3pm




Curatorial Statement: Photography in the hands of great artists can transmit a visual message that can make an impact, like no other medium. A single still image is capable of saying something so profound that its effect is undeniably felt by all people. The artistic expression may be an individual one, but an image can be universally understood, and resonate around the world. The Lucie Awards is honored to have been asked to curate and present exceptional images that do just that.
For the UN Climate Change Legacy Exhibition, we have called upon renowned photographers who have dedicated their lives to documenting melting icebergs, drought, air, water, waste pollution and the undeniable effects these things have had on our planet. It is a condensed, compassionate plea, through their lenses, of the effects of climate change.
Their images may be startlingly beautiful, which can complicate the horrific message they convey, but look beyond the amazing artistry and try to understand the subliminal ideas within these framed works. Bravo to these brilliant image-makers who challenge us with their documentary record of what is taking place. It has been a privilege to curate their works for the COP21. We have been humbled by their clarity and consistent endeavour to keep shouting to the world to do something. Hossein Farmani, Chair, The Lucie Awards, Susan Baraz, Co-Chair, The Lucie Awards




by Lysander Christo, Writer/Photographer. Age 12
Silent steps of evolution, highest height of all the world.
Of all the world a graceful trot,
so fast, yet so slow through the savannah,
where the elephants trumpet and blow.
Your long purple tongue so strong, and so speechless
you eat the thorns of a tree of a foliage,
that resembles barbed wire fence.
If you could speak, you would tell us,
the ways of living in peace, with no menacing gaze.
If you could speak, my friend, you would tell us
how to revive ourselves, or what we have done.
We have blackened the earth and sullied our air,
we have killed your friends,
for nothing but the triumph of money
and the triumph of cash, no matter
who we are deep inside, we’re sorry for this.
Despite the commandments, despite the laws,
we have done what we wish and transformed
rainforests to deserts and savannahs to dust,
we have escaped the laws of nature,
the true laws that keep all animals from destroying the earth. From your unjudging heights
you look down upon us.
You see so much that you know the answers,
you are the messenger of knowledge itself. You are the mighty giraffe.

Published Nov. 29, 2017: BIODIVERSITY.ORG


Bareiss Exhibition of Marie Wilkinson, Cyril & Lysander Christo

Humpback Whales

Director: Greg MacGillivray

Web site: www.humpbackwhalesfilm.com

TRT: 39m

Narrated by two-time Golden Globe® nominee Ewan McGregor, is an extraordinary journey into the mysterious world of one of nature’s most awe-inspiring marine mammals. Set in the spectacular waters of Alaska, Hawaii and the remote islands of Tonga, this ocean adventure offers audiences an up-close look at how these whales communicate, sing, feed, play and take care of their young. Captured for the first time with IMAX® 3D cameras, and found in every ocean on earth, humpbacks were nearly driven to extinction 50 years ago, but today are making a slow but remarkable recovery. Join a team of researchers as they unlock the secrets of the humpback and find out why humpbacks are the most acrobatic of all whales, why they sing their haunting songs, and why these intelligent, 55-foot, 50-ton animals migrate up to 10,000 miles round-trip every year.

A MacGillivray Freeman film presented by Pacific Life, Humpback Whales is directed by Greg MacGillivray (The Living Sea, Dolphins, Everest) and produced by Shaun MacGillivray (To The Arctic, Grand Canyon Adventure). Filmed with 15perf / 65mm IMAX® cameras, Humpback Whales is written and edited by Stephen Judson (Everest, To The Arctic) with a musical score by Steve Wood. (Journey to the South Pacific, To The Arctic). A One World One Ocean production.

MacGillivray Freeman Films is the world’s leading independent producer and distributor of giant-screen 70mm films with 38 films for IMAX theatres to its credit. Throughout the company’s 50- year history, its films have won numerous international awards including two Academy Award®nominations and three films inducted into the IMAX Hall of Fame. Humpback Whales follows in the company’s long tradition of films known for their artistry and celebration of science and the natural world.


MacGillivray Freeman Films (MFF) bring their exhilarating giant-screen storytelling to one of the most enormous and vastly fascinating creatures on earth in Humpback Whales – an immersive ocean adventure that invites audiences to dive head-first into the mysterious realm of these 55-foot, 50-ton aquatic mammals. In a splashing, exuberant, musical mix of 3D imagery, underwater splendor and scientific exploration, the film beckons the compelling question: what might life be like from a humpback POV?

Narrated by two-time Golden Globe® nominee Ewan McGregor (Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) and presented by Pacific Life, it’s a whale of a tale that begins with promising news. Once feared as monsters, and very nearly hunted to extinction, today humpbacks appear to be in the midst of a slow but remarkable recovery. Now protected by global bans on whaling, the image of the humpback has transformed 180 degrees into a wellspring of wide-eyed human curiosity, passion and inspiration. The result has been a golden age of cetacean science now tackling the many puzzles of their intriguing behaviors.

Splashing right into this exciting new era, Humpback Whales tags along with leading whale researchers using pioneering methods to better understand what whales do when no one’s watching. As the film sails from the tropical Kingdom of Tonga to lush summertime Alaska to the invitingly warm waters of Hawaii, moviegoers have the chance to follow along on the humpback’s epic migration, while experiencing its devoted bonds, amazing songs and underwater acrobatics.

In some of MFF’s most movingly intimate footage – as intimate as you can get with a 50-ton seafarer – the humpbacks croon their long, complex songs, raise their jumbo-sized babies, display their acrobatic feats, work in cooperative teams and chase one another in high-speed competitions. It all leads up to an edge-of-your-seat whale rescue – and an unforgettable reminder that the future of whales depends in large part on us humans allowing them to sing their own tune.

A MacGillivray Freeman film presented by Pacific Life, HUMPBACK WHALES is directed by Greg MacGillivray (The Living Sea, Dolphins, Everest) and produced by Shaun MacGillivray (To The Arctic, Grand Canyon Adventure). Filmed with 15perf / 65mm IMAX® cameras, HUMPBACK WHALESis written by Stephen Judson (Everest, To The Arctic) with a musical score by Steve Wood (Journey to the South Pacific, To The Arctic). A One World One Ocean production.

Journey into Amazing Caves

Director: Stephen Judson

Web site: www.amazingcaves.com

TRT: 38m

All over our planet there are landscapes that hold caves beneath them. Challenged by the underground frontier and inspired by the secrets it may yield, cavers share a passion for exploration. Journey into Amazing Caves follows Hazel Barton and Nancy Aulenbach on an adventure to explore caves in canyon walls, in glaciers and beneath the rainforests of Mexico. In these unusual and hostile places, Barton, a microbiologist, searches for tiny organisms that somehow survive there. The microorganisms that live in environments with no light, few nutrients, and in the case of glaciers, locked in ice for hundreds or thousands of years, have developed unique survival tactics and lethal weapons against other organisms that compete for the same, few nutrients. Barton studies this subterranean life in hopes it may point to new drugs or antibiotics to fight human illness

High on a cliff near the Grand Canyon, Dr. Hazel Barton and Nancy Aulenbach rappel down to a cave entrance, dangling more than 700 feet above a turquoise-hued river. They aim to be the first to explore a little-known cave formed millions of years before the river cut through the canyon.

In Greenland, Barton and Aulenbach join a team of scientists and adventurers who are attempting a record depth – 500 feet — into a glacier ice cave. They descend dramatic surface crevasses into a cathedral-like world of blue ice. Razor-sharp ice shards fall from the glacier walls. As Nancy studies how these caves are formed, Hazel collects tiny organisms that can survive extreme pressures and temperatures. These organisms are in suspended animation and can be brought back to life when removed from the ice.
The underwater caves of Mexico’s Caribbean coast contain the beautiful formations found in typical, terrestrial caves. In the film, the water is so clear, you won’t know you’re underwater until you see Hazel in Scuba gear. These caves are beautiful, but dangerous. One wrong move by a caver here can be deadly. Beneath the Mayan jungle, Hazel searches underwater cave passages for microorganisms living in the shimmering halocline: where the freshwater that flows eneath the jungle meets the ocean saltwater.

As it conveys the excitement of scientific exploration, Journey into Amazing Caves takes audiences on an adventure in the natural world…to the underground landscapes that are as beautiful and vital as any place on Earth.

Rigging a Canyon Cave

It was no surprise to MacGillivray Freeman’s film crew that the cave in Little Colorado River Canyon had never been explored. Not only were there no roads to this location, the cave was on a cliff 300 feet below a plateau and more than 700 feet above the river. The ‘easiest’ way into the cave was from the plateau above. Helicopters flew the 30-person crew and 3-1/2 tons of gear to and from the site each day.

A team of expert riggers devised a 20-foot truss and winch that lowered crew and equipment down the sheer cliff to the cave entrance. MFF trusted this venture to rigger and production manager Earl Wiggins whose last job was overseeing the safety of Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 2. Director of Photography Brad Ohlund was impressed with the result: “Not only did Earl and Mark Chapman build a system for getting people and gear into an impossible location, they created shooting platforms in no time flat. I just had to show them where I wanted the lens, and literally, only minutes later, the camera and tripod would be rigged solid.” He continued, “They quickly understood that in IMAX, we always need to put the camera where it doesn’t want to go.”

Surviving Greenland’s Ice Caves

“There were certainly major technical challenges shooting IMAX footage in the vertical ice shafts of Greenland, but nothing of any technical nature even approached the sheer magnitude of sitting on three thousand feet of ice, or realizing at the bottom of one of the ice caves that we were not even a fifth of the way to bedrock, ” said Cinematographer Gordon Brown.

The most difficult shots were deep within Minnik, the near 600-foot ice cave. The crew needed to set up a platform close to the bottom of the cave to film the characters’ descent. At this depth, the ice is under 300 pounds of pressure per square inch, making the ice walls very unpredictable. On one ascent, when a crew member merely kicked the ice wall with his crampons to get a hold, a 100-foot crack rifled across the face of the walls above them. Though the film and caving team tried their best to purge the icy shaft of icicles, they realized even the smallest of loose shards could prove dangerous, even deadly, if they plummeted hundreds of feet to the crew below.

The falling ice caused the crew to abandon the filming platform and move to a 9600 pound ice block, wedged precariously in the shaft, but just around the corner from the platform and out of the way of falling ice. As the film team used ice screws to secure their position, they heard another sharp snap as the block beneath them shifted a quarter-inch. They watched a crack move in slow motion up the wall for about 40 feet. The block shifted another quarter inch. Continues Brown, “The disturbing part was that the ice block did not settle or roll, but continued to grind away at its trappings a quarter inch at a time. Every five minutes our hearts stopped as we felt our footing shudder and we heard an awful snap and grind. There wasn’t anything to do but keep shooting.”


TRT: 56m, 46s

Completion Date: October 12th 2017

Dubbed by: Dr. Gacrcía

Release Year: 2017

Nominated BEST DOCUMENTARY – New Mexico Filmmakers Showcase

Nominated BEST LATIN SONG “Indita del Río Puerco” – New Mexico Music Awards

Returning to the ruins of a remote valley where he grew up, New Mexico folklorist Nasario García unearths memories of a time before the rains stopped, when the Hispanic villages flourished with stories of land, river, animals, magic and myth.

The story of Nasario remembers the Río Puerco begins with a cante jondo, a song that Nasario García hears in Andalucía, Spain in the 1960s that triggers memories of his chilhood in a small village in New Mexico. This moment inspires his life’s work, which has now spanned four decades, as an acclaimed folklorist and oral historian chronicling the life and stories of this isolated valley in the American Southwest. Nestled among mesas and extinct volcanoes, southeast of Chaco Canyon, and adjoining Navajo and Pueblo communities, the Hispanic villages of this valley bloomed in isolation from the 1900s to 1950s. Their origins, language and culture reflected the intersection of influences from Spain, Mexico and Native communities that are part of New Mexico’s past and present.

In the documentary, Nasarío remembers the Río Puerco, Dr. García lets the landscape speak through him in story, silence and song as he wanders through the now ghost towns of his youth.

The film’s narrative mirrors how memory creates an eternal present. Every time Nasario returns to the ruins, the story begins and ends again. With eloquence and humor, he guides us into memories of his childhood and the lives of early settlers like his grandparents and parents who ranched and farmed the land. He takes us on adventures, from threshing pinto beans to encounters with hawks and bears, Sunday rituals and Christmas horse rides, twilight stories of witches, magic and enchanted mesas, racing the river after thunderstorms, and eventually, the arrival of droughts. The family’s departure to the city ends the story when Nasario is nine – till it begins again, many years later, when he is in his twenties and hears a song far from home.

The cinematography captures the dramatic hues, light and expanse of the desert. Archival photos and brief dramatic sequences evoke the storytelling spirits of the valley. The soundtrack features cante jondo and oud compositions, New Mexico roots music, Mexican ballads and an original song, the “Indita del Río Puerco.” Together, these elements create a deeply-felt cinematic encounter between teller and tale, what is gone and left of memory, and coming home to the story only you can tell. In its celebration of oral storytelling traditions, the film also offers an invitation for audiences to stop and listen to their own stillness, to a place from long ago that waits in the soul.

River of Gold

TRT: 56m

RIVER OF GOLD is the disturbing account of a clandestine journey into Peru’s Amazon rainforest to uncover the savage unraveling of pristine jungle. Ron Haviv and Donovan Webster, two war journalists, led by Peruvian Enrique Ortiz, bear witness to the apocalyptic destruction in the pursuit of illegally mined gold with consequences on a global scale. Flash forward four years to a massive intervention by the Peruvian government. What will be the fate of this critical region of priceless biodiversity as these extraordinarily beautiful forests are turned into a hellish wasteland?


By Sarah duPont, Co-Director/Producer


In the summer of 1999, I journeyed to the Peruvian Amazon, a remote and pristine area, the largest piece of contiguous rainforest left on the planet. There we meandered along undulating brown rivers by boat, the best way to traverse this dense and roadless place. I was traveling with an intrepid group of scientists. Our destination was the research station we had built to study and protect this critical ecosystem. I came to learn firsthand how the Amazon is one of the most important places for the stability of our environment; not only is the Amazon an untapped plethora of important species, it also houses countless trees that keep the world’s weather patterns steady.

Since that time, I have been fortunate to travel back to the jungles of the Amazon. But it has become a different place. Roads have been built and people have arrived. It has become a new wild west, a place without law. People driven by poverty and the desire for a better life have come, exploiting the sacred ground. Almost 10 years after my first trip to the once pristine Amazon, I could no longer travel the rivers without witnessing mass ecological destruction. In desperation, I gathered a team of some of the best scientists, environmentalists, and artists to document this tragedy. I wanted to create a film that is both beautiful and informative; one that I hope will affect the audience so that they too can step forward to protect the Amazon and ensure that the future climate of the world is as we know it today.

But how was I to deliver this message? How could I get people to pay attention in this chaotic time? For me, I knew that it felt like war. A war against the environment. Ecocide. Then a thought was born. Why not make a documentary that follows journalists who specialize in war reportage, filming them as they witnessed this broad, far reaching, and criminal eradication of the Amazon? This film would capture this war against nature.

RIVER OF GOLD was indeed a very difficult and dangerous film to make. As the producer I was at times very concerned for the safety of the team. We were documenting places where outsiders are never allowed. The stakes were high and we knew that filming illegal mines would not be welcomed. Moments of the shoot were thick with tension; we were skirting danger, not knowing if we would be able to complete our mission successfully and safely. But thanks to our courageous and talented crew, we came home with 26 hours of horrible, poignant, yet beautiful imagery for the world to see. We can now all witness young men standing in barrels laden with mercury, child prostitution and slavery, and the majestic trees once filled with the joyous songs of birds now turning into desolate and toxic soil all gone in the quest for gold.

And what is this destruction worth? Does the sparkling superfluous glitter of gold outshine all other necessary elements of life? This beautiful and intricate web of life that we have been given to nourish our bodies and souls is being destroyed. And for what?

Humans have the capacity for greatness and the ability to create solutions. I believe in grace. RIVER OF GOLD was made in the hope for a safe and healthy world.


Website: www.silentforests.com

TRT: 109m

SILENT FORESTS is an intimate, character-driven portrait of conservationists and activists who are fighting against all odds to stop forest elephant poaching in Africa’s Congo Basin region. After a study revealed that more than half the central African forest elephant population has been lost to poaching in the last decade, there has been a concerted effort to save those that remain. SILENT FORESTS will explore this story through a range of dynamic subjects; including one of Cameroon’s first female eco-guards, a grassroots wildlife law enforcement group, a Congolese biologist studying elephant behavior, a reformed elephant poacher, and a team of anti-poaching sniffer dogs led by a Czech conservationist. As passionate and tenacious as these conservationists are, they are up against huge institutional challenges like corruption and lack of funding that threaten to derail all their attempts to fight for the future of the forest elephant.

Blue Heart of Europe

River of Gold

An Amazon Aid Foundation Production

Trailer: https://blueheart.patagonia.com/

Total Run Time: 97 min

Release Year: 2018

Taos Environmental Film Festival in association with Amazon Aid Foundation, present River of Gold. River of Gold tells of  The Fight for Europe’s Last Wild Rivers.

Patagonia’s latest documentary film, ​Blue Heart​, depicts the fight to protect Europe’s last wild rivers and brings international awareness to a potential environmental disaster in Europe. The Balkan Peninsula between Slovenia and Albania is home to the last wild rivers in Europe where more than 3,000 proposed hydropower projects threaten to destroy the culture and ecology of this forgotten region. If fierce local opposition fails, 20,000 kilometers of pristine sparkling creeks, raging tributaries and swift, braided currents of the last undammed watersheds on the continent will be forever damaged by thousands of dams and diversions—at a time when dams are being decommissioned throughout much of the developed world.

Local activists living along the shores of these rivers and European NGOs such as RiverWatch are fighting against government corruption and foreign investment. ​Blue Heartdocuments the battle to protect Albania’s Vjosa River, the largest undammed river in Europe; the effort to save the endangered Balkan Lynx in Macedonia, and the months-long fight by women of Kruščica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, who are protesting day and night to save their community’s only source of drinking water.

“With the deluge of proposed hydropower dams and diversions in the Balkan Peninsula we are looking at what could be irreversible environmental destruction, but there is very little awareness of this issue in Europe or globally,” stated Ryan Gellert, Patagonia General Manager, EMEA. ​“We hope that this film will bring international attention to the local communities fighting to protect the free-flowing rivers they rely on and educate people about why hydropower dams are an outdated, dirty technology.”

“I believe this wild place requires and deserves protection. To destroy it, especially for an outmoded and expensive technology, is a waste of money and a moral travesty,” says ​Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia, Inc. founder

Created by Patagonia, in partnership with NGOs from across the Balkan region and throughout Europe and directed by Britton Caillouette, the film is a powerful moment in the larger ongoing effort to raise global awareness for the ​Save the Blue Heart of Europecampaign​. In the film and throughout the campaign, Patagonia asks people to act now and sign an online petition to put pressure on foreign developers and banks, who are funding dam-building projects, including within protected areas.

Blue Heart launches globally on 28 April 2018. The world premiere of the film will be held at Idbar Dam, ​Konjic​, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, followed by screenings across the Balkan Peninsula and in major cities worldwide.

About Patagonia

Founded by Yvon Chouinard in 1973, Patagonia is an outdoor company based in Ventura, California. A Certified B Corp, Patagonia’s mission is to build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. The company is recognized internationally for its commitment to authentic product quality and environmental activism, contributing $90 million to date in grants and in-kind donations.


About Patagonia

Founded by Yvon Chouinard in 1973, Patagonia is an outdoor company based in Ventura, California. A Certified B Corp, Patagonia’s mission is to build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. The company is recognized internationally for its commitment to authentic product quality and environmental activism, contributing $90 million to date in grants and in-kind donations.


About the director

Britton Caillouette has been making films in the outdoors for over a decade. A student of history with a keen eye for photography and a love for challenging production situations, he brings a unique style of visual storytelling and humanity to his stories. Britton directed his first documentary in war-torn West Africa while an undergraduate at Stanford University and has won awards for his work in both film and advertising including a Cannes Lion.

Britton Caillouette has been making films in the outdoors for over a decade. A student of history with a keen eye for photography and a love for challenging production situations, he brings a unique style of visual storytelling and humanity to his stories. Britton directed his first documentary in war-torn West Africa while an undergraduate at Stanford University and has won awards for his work in both film and advertising including a Cannes Lion.


Directed by: Nicolas Brown

Produced by: David Allen

TRT: 84m

Exploring some of the most remote and spectacular places on Earth, five pioneering scientists make surprising discoveries that flip our understanding of nature on its head, and offer new hope for restoring our world.

Academy Award-winning Passion Pictures and HHMI Tangled Bank Studios present one of the most important, but untold science stories of our time—a tale with profound implications for the fate of life on our planet.

Beginning in the 1960s, a small band of young scientists headed out into the wilderness, driven by an insatiable curiosity about how nature works. Immersed in some of the most remote and spectacular places on Earth—from the majestic Serengeti to the Amazon jungle; from the Arctic Ocean to Pacific tide pools—they discovered a single set of rules that govern all life. Now in the twilight of their eminent careers, these five unsung heroes of modern ecology—Bob Paine, Jim Estes, Mary Power, Tony Sinclair, and John Terborgh—share the stories of their adventures, and how their pioneering work flipped our view of nature on its head. Across the globe, they discovered that among the millions of species on our planet, some are far more important than others. They called these species “keystones,” because they hold the natural world together.

The role of keystones is both revelatory and surprising: sea otters help kelp forests flourish, supporting everything from salmon to eagles; wolves enable rivers to run clear and help forests thrive; and the humble wildebeest controls the numbers of trees, butterflies, elephants, and even giraffes on the savanna.

Unfortunately, these deep connections also work in reverse. When keystones are removed, ecosystems unravel and collapse—a phenomenon no one had imagined—or understood until their revolutionary discoveries. But with new knowledge also comes new hope, and these same visionaries reveal the remarkable resilience of nature—and how the rules they discovered can be used to upgrade and restore the natural world. They give us the chance to reimagine the world as it could and should be.

Based on the book by Sean B. Carroll, The Serengeti Rules will forever change the way we see nature. The film will be accompanied by a media and impact campaign to shine a light on restoration projects across the world.


official-selection-laurels-2019-gold2Director: Lynn Hamrick

Producers: Lynn Hamrick & Gail Yasunaga

Editor: Gail Yasunaga

Composer: Yasuhiko Fukuoka

With Master Chef Hiroji Obayashi including his family and friends, Candice Obayashi, Yasuyo Obayashi, Philip Chiang and Paul Prudhomme.

TRT: 55m

HIRO’S TABLE is a documentary portrait of master chefHiroji Obayashi and his wife Yasuyo over a sixteen-year year span as they managed the day to day operation of their intimate Mom and Pop restaurant,

Hirozen Gourmet, nestled in the unlikely corner of a West Hollywood strip mall.

The film is a tribute to the subtleties of Hiro’s unique culinary vision and the perseverance it took for his family to transition from immigrant business owners to established restauranteurs with all the the

joys and sorrows that entailed.




Directors: Danielle Ryan, James Sherwood

Executive Producer: Martin Sheen

Music: Daniel Clive Mccallum

Animator: Anna Outridge

Illustrator: Mia Grimaldi

Cast: Prince Albert Ii Of Monaco, Tommy Remengesau (President Of Palau), Tony Burke (Australia’s Former Environment Minister), Enric Sala (National Geographic Explorer), Captain Paul Watson, Mario Pascobello, Ari Friedlaender, Michael Sutton, Guiseppe Notarbartolo Di Sciara, Mary Jean Samson Tabanera, Frank Talbot, Nicola Benyon, Georgios Troupis, Keobel Sakuma, Ruffino, Cindy Walter, Gerald Tuayon, Laurent Martin, Kip Evans, Pat Hutchings, Dave Gumban Alboa, John Day, Aki, Charles Littnan

TRT: 95m

THE MAP TO PARADISE is an adventure-filled and spectacularly gorgeous tale about the birth of the global movement to protect the sea. From underwater worlds of ice to glistening coral sanctuaries, discover what it takes to build a movement and to create positive change.

Filmed across six continents, the filmmakers have set out to challenge the mainstream narrative of hard-hitting environmental documentaries with a “doom and gloom” message, and replace it with one of hope and courage. Along the way, we meet a prince, a president, a pirate, and also an island chief—among others—who are all playing a role in the quest to save the planet.

Mixing colorful character-driven stories and hand-rendered animations, THE MAP TO PARADISE is a rare urgent environmental wake-up call that retains a sense of awe and wonder for the kind of beauty that is still possible.

A Bold Peace

official-selection-laurels-2019-gold2WRITER, DIRECTOR & PRODUCER: MATTHEW EDDY


TRT: 105m

Over 70 years ago, Costa Rica became one of the only nations in the world to disband their military and to redirect national resources towards education, health, and the environment. Since then, Costa Rica has earned the number one spot in the Happy Planet Index, a ranking of countries based on measures of environmental protection and the happiness and health of its citizens.  And the World Database of Happiness, with data on 149 nations compiled by a Dutch sociologist, lists Costa Rica as number one in self-reported happiness and number one in happy life years.

A Bold Peace juxtaposes the national policy of demilitarization (since 1948-49) with their investment in education, health, and the environment. Pointed parallels and contrasts are made with recent U.S. debates over the national debt, healthcare, the environment and the escalating cost of U.S. militarism. The film features former presidents, Costa Rican government officials, as well as scholars, journalists and citizens of Costa Rica.

Unfortunately, the Costa Rican example has received very little international attention. This documentary film will bring attention to Costa Rica’s inspirational national project, answering why happiness, health, and human rights occupy a relatively prominent place in this Central American country.

  • “….Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed…”  – – President Eisenhower (1953): Cross of Iron Speech
  • “The army is a thing of the past. War is not normal in human life. Peace is normal.” – José Figueres (former President of Costa Rica)
  • “There’s a great danger of turning society into machines who are producing goods and services and doing away with many of the spiritual aspirations of mankind.” – José Figueres (former President of Costa Rica)
  • “We have shown the world that it is possible for a country like ours to live without an army.” – Oscar Arias (former President of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Prize winner)

Chapter 1: Another Way

The film details Costa Rica’s relative success as indicated by its #1 ranking in several global surveys of happiness and its #1 ranking in the Happy Planet Index. Costa Rica’s “culture of peace” is explored as Costa Ricans explain their views on demilitarization, the value of social solidarity, and their perceptions of the cultural ethos of “Pura Vida.”

Chapter 2: The Abolition of the Military

In the early 1940s, an unusual coalition of the Catholic Church, labor leaders, and the Calderon administration pushed through progressive reforms which laid the foundation for a strong welfare state. Political corruption and electoral fraud led to the Civil War of 1948. The film explores the formation of Jose Figueres as a uniquely visionary leader and his rise to the national stage. Figueres’ decision to abolish the army was both pragmatic and idealistic. He was a self-taught man and a voracious reader of Tolstoy, Emerson, and other leading pacifists. As leader of the revolutionary Junta,

he solidified Costa Rica’s social democracy and walked away from power in order to honor that democracy.

Chapter 3: New Challenges

Costa Rica’s peace model has been put to the test several times. In the 1980s, in the face of raging Civil Wars across Central America and intense pressure from the Reagan Administration, President Monge’s Neutrality Declaration and President Oscar Arias’ Peace Plan negotiations are highlighted as bold attempts to stand for peace during a major escalation of the Cold War. A fascinating grassroots effort to remove Costa Rica from the list of the “Coalition of the Willing” at the outset of the U.S.-led Iraq War is detailed. In 2010, in a shocking provocation, the Nicaraguan Army occupied part of Costa Rica’s territory. Rather than retreat, Nicaragua doubled their forces on the border. Costa Rica diffused the crisis by appealing to the Organization of American States and

the International Court of Justice. Costa Rica’s response offers a crucial case study in international law and diplomacy.

Chapter 4: Costa Rica’s National Security Model

Costa Rican and U.S. experts reflect on Costa Rica’s 65 years without a military. Costa Rican commitments to diplomacy, international organizations, international laws and courts are detailed. The role of Oscar Arias in trying to export the Costa Rican model is also detailed. Both Panama and Haiti embraced demilitarization as a result of Arias’ efforts. Interviewees point out that the Costa Rica’s “no standing army” policy echoes Thomas Jefferson’s hope that the U.S. would have no standing army.

Chapter 5: Threats to Peace

Costa Rica is no utopia. Rising inequality in the wake of economic globalization, including neoliberal “free trade” agreements, threaten to destabilize Costa Rica’s traditions of solidarity and social democracy. And, much as in the 1980s, U.S. foreign policy – this time in the form of the Drug War – also threatens Costa Rica’s tradition of demilitarization.

Chapter 6: The Permanent Warfare State

The Costa Rican model illuminates the heavy opportunity costs and ongoing human tragedy of the U.S. military-industrial complex and permanent war economy. The U.S. defense industry, U.S. spending priorities, and U.S. diplomatic failures to support international law and UN treaties including the Arms Trade Treaty (led by the Costa Rican leader Oscar Arias) are critiqued. In the film’s conclusion, ordinary Costa Ricans read the names of 9 significant international peace and human rights treaties that Costa Rica has signed, but which the U.S. government has so far refused to sign.

A Bold Peace
Plastic Paradise

Plastic Paradise


Director: Angela Sun

Executive Producers: Gil Elbaz Elyssa Elbaz Cathy Tsang David Tsang

Cinematography by: Joseph Ochoa, Francisco Aliwalas, Mark Bella,

Original Music by: Jack Johnson, Scott Ohtoro, Ben Lear, Vanacore, Smidi Music, APM

TRT: 57m

Thousands of miles away from civilization, Midway Atoll is in one of the most remote places on earth. And yet its become ground zero for The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, syphoning plastics from three distant continents. In this independent documentary film, journalist/filmmaker Angela Sun travels on a personal journey of discovery to uncover this mysterious phenomenon. Along the way she meets scientists, researchers, influencers, and volunteers who shed light on the effects of our rabid plastic consumption and learns the problem is more insidious than we could have ever imagined.


The River and the Wall

TRT: 97m

The River and the Wall follows five friends on an immersive adventure through the unknown wilds of the Texas borderlands as they travel 1200 miles from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico on horses, mountain bikes, and canoes.

Conservation filmmaker Ben Masters realizes the urgency of documenting the last remaining wilderness in Texas as the threat of new border wall construction looms ahead. Masters recruits NatGeo Explorer Filipe DeAndrade, ornithologist Heather Mackey, river guide Austin Alvarado, and conservationist Jay Kleberg to join him on the two-and-a-half-month journey down 1,200 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.

They set out to document the borderlands and explore the potential impacts of a wall on the natural environment, but as the wilderness gives way to the more populated and heavily trafficked Lower Rio Grande Valley, they come face-to-face with the human side of the immigration debate and enter uncharted emotional waters.


BEN MASTERS | Director & Character

Ben Masters grew up in West Texas, studied wildlife biology at Texas A&M University, and spent four years working on a border ranch near Laredo. Masters is best known for UNBRANDED, a feature documentary on Netflix, in which he and three friends adopted 16 wild mustangs, trained them, and rode 3,000 miles from Mexico to Canada to inspire wild horse adoptions. He is a published author, a National Geographic photographer, cinematographer, and writer, and his work has received dozens of domestic and international awards including the Audience Award at Hot Docs International Film Festival, the People’s Choice Award at Banff Film Festival, and the Audience Award at Telluride Mountainfilm. Masters represents the interests of wildlife on 31.2 Million acres of federal public land as the Wildlife Management Chair of the BLM’s volunteer Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board.



Hillary Pierce is an Emmy Award-winning documentary producer based in Austin, Texas. She is a part of the producing team behind Keith Maitland’s dual 2016 documentaries TOWER and A SONG FOR YOU: THE AUSTIN CITY LIMITS STORY. Hillary began her documentary career at Maysles Films under the tutelage of Direct Cinema pioneer Albert Maysles and earned an MFA in Documentary Film at Wake Forest University. Her film THE ONE WHO BUILDS tells the story of the Muslim director of a refugee resettlement agency in the American South. TOWER won the Grand Jury Documentary Prize and Audience Award at SXSW in 2016, broadcast nationally on PBS’ Independent Lens in February 2017, was shortlisted for an Academy Award and won the 2018 Emmy for Outstanding Historical Documentary.

JAY KLEBERG | Producer & Character

Jay Kleberg is the Associate Director for Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. He is part of a team that conserves Texas’ most pristine lands to benefit wildlife and provide recreational opportunities to the public. He is a sixth generation Texan, born and raised on a working cattle ranch in South Texas. He is co-founder of a Brazilian-based Amazonian adventure travel company and conservation organization. Jay lived in El Paso for eight years working in cities along both sides of the US-Mexico border. He has experience with multi-day expeditions, having piloted a single-engine Cessna 5,500 miles from the Amazon to Texas in 2003, rode a mountain bike 2,700 miles along the Continental Divide Trail from the US- Mexico Border to Banff and paddled 264 miles of the San Marcos and Guadalupe Rivers as part of the Texas Water Safari. Jay lives in Austin with his wife and three daughters.


Filipe DeAndrade was born in Brazil, immigrated to the United States at age six, and grew up in Cleveland, Ohio.  When he’s not in the field, he’s living in Florida out of a film production truck converted from a retired ambulance.  Filipe is a Director for the Comfort Theory production company; the host for NatGeo Wild’s UNTAMED web series, and his love for wildlife is only equaled by his passion to tell their stories.  Filipe is an Emmy nominated Associate Producer, has been nominated for 19 NY EMMYs, and has freelanced across the world as a Director of Photography.


Heather grew up in upstate New York near the Adirondack Mountains. After completing a BS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University, she spent the next

five years work as a field biologist. She has conducted conservation research in a variety of remote locations including Kodiak Island, Alaska where she led a two-month expedition to research the nesting ecology of the enigmatic Kittlitz’s Murrelet. She’s also worked in the Galapagos Islands, where she was part of a team studying Waved Albatross and Nazca Boobies as well as the Australian rainforest where she contributed to research on the behavior of the Satin Bowerbird. It wasn’t until she began her MS research at California State University Los Angeles that she discovered the wonderment of West Texas. She committed to field research in the hottest part of Big Bend National Park, during peak temperatures (100+ degrees), site unseen. Through her two seasons on the Rio Grande researching the impact of riparian restoration on the bird and butterfly communities she’s developed a deep appreciation for the wildlife and the people of West Texas.


Austin was born in Austin, TX. He is a 1st generation Guatemalan American and spent his childhood going back and forth between Austin, TX and Guatemala.  He chose to go to Texas A&M and while earning his B.S. in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Science, he spent summers working on cruise ships in the Mediterranean and river guiding on the Rio Grande in the Big Bend.  Austin has paddled a number of rivers around the world but he continues to call the Rio Grande his home. He now is the Activities and River manager for the leading outfitter in Big Bend, Far Flung Outdoor Center.  Austin has spent the past 5 years leading commercial trips down the Rio Grande, with the last 3 years as a permanent resident of the Big Bend area.  Collectively, he has paddled over 200 miles of the Rio Grande in the Big Bend area.

PHILLIP BARIBEAU | Cinematographer

Phillip earned a degree in media and theatre arts from Montana State University.  Following his passion for film, storytelling and adventure, he went to work in television and documentary filmmaking.  His most credited broadcast series are DESTINATION EXTREME on National Geographic (Field Producer/DP/Editor), AX MEN on the History Channel (Field Producer/Camera Operator), MEATEATER on the Sportsman Channel (DP) and MOUNTAIN MEN on the History Channel (Camera Operator).  In 2008, Phillip founded Implement Productions, based in Bozeman, MT.  Phillip’s first feature length documentary, UNBRANDED (Director and DP), won the 2015 Audience Choice Award at Hot Docs International Film Festival, Telluride Mountainfilm, and the Banff Mountain Film Festival.  He recently finished his next feature length documentary, CHARGED, THE EDUARDO GARCIA STORY (Director and DP).  CHARGED was the opening night film for the Santa Barbara film festival in January 2017 and is currently playing festivals nationwide.

JOHN ALDRICH | Cinematographer/Editor

John Aldrich grew up in Florida, but was raised by Texans and got here as fast as he could, studying Film and Government at the University of Texas (’94). He received his Master’s in Documentary Filmmaking from the Documentary Institute at the University of Florida (’00) and lived and worked in the Washington, D.C. area for the next ten years (seven of them as a producer/editor for National Geographic Television) before returning to Texas. Since then, his work includes producing, editing and shooting the feature docs AN UNREAL DREAM: THE MICHAEL MORTON STORY (CNN, December 2013, SXSW Audience Award) and AUDUBON (PBS, April 2017) as well as shorts for GQ, The New Yorker, National Geographic, Yeti, Natalie Merchant and Bob Schneider.

CINDY MEEHL | Executive Producer

Cindy Meehl is the founder of Cedar Creek Productions. She directs and produces feature film documentaries. She recently directed her new film, The Dog Doc, which is premiering soon in 2019. She was the director and executive producer on BUCK. Meehl’s other films she executive produced are REWIND, THE RIVER AND THE WALL, TRAPPED, UNBRANDED, FOR THE BIRDS, and DOGS ON THE INSIDE.

The River and the Wall
A Quest for Meaning

A Quest for Meaning

official-selection-laurels-2019-gold2Directors: Deborah Begel and David Lindblom

Executive Producers: Dr. Johnnye Lewis and Chris Shuey

Original language : Navajo & English | Subtitles: Englis

TRT: 88m

This documentary is a four part meditation on the Navajo people’s problems with contaminated drinking water. Nearly one out of three people in the Navajo Nation struggle with this issue. Four Stories About Water opens with a waterfall of people who reveal the scope of water contamination problems on Navajo lands, from the health problems that were likely caused by uranium tailings left uncovered to the view of water as “a spiritual element” to the fact that 30% of the Navajo people don’t have access to safe water. «For us Diné people, if we treat water with respect and have spiritual faith, water will respect us. In this way, we will go forward in a balanced and harmonised life. » David Begay



The Human Element

official-selection-laurels-2019-gold2TRT: 76m

For millennia, many civilizations thought that earth, air, fire, and water were the primary forces—the elements—of nature. Now, through new knowledge of how the world works, science has led us to realize that humanity itself has its own elemental power.

Earth scientists speak of natural tectonics. These are the forces cracking the planet’s crust with earthquakes and volcanoes. But humanity is a tectonic force, too. The combined power of our population, our technology, our survival needs, and our desire for affluence has reshaped the Earth as we know it.

James Balog—photographer, scientist, and filmmaker—recently dubbed the mechanisms of our impact “Human Tectonics.” In recognition of the widespread and long-lasting impact of humanity, the epoch of geologic time in which these impacts are taking place is known to science as the Anthropocene (pronounced “an’-throw-poe-scene”).

When the Anthropocene began is a matter of debate. Some scientists put it at 10,000 years ago, when agriculture became more prevalent than hunting and gathering. Many others peg it at 200 years ago, when the Industrial Revolution started spewing so much carbon dioxide and other gases into our air that the composition of our atmosphere changed. Still other scientists favor dating it to the first atomic bomb test: starting in 1945, the fallout from nuclear blasts laid down a worldwide layer of long-lived radioactivity on land and sea.

Human Tectonics produced the Anthropocene—and nearly everyone on Earth has benefited from the processes of the epoch. Increased industrial and agricultural capacity, improvements in water quality and medical care: these are big benefits to human life as a consequence of the Anthropocene. A dramatic increase in the human population during the past three centuries has resulted. The 20th century alone saw a fourfold increase in global population; as of 2018, there are 7.6 billion people on Earth. By the end of our current century, global population will likely reach 11 billion.

Ironically, that is both good news and bad news. Good news because people live at a generally higher level of health and comfort than our ancestors did. But it can also bring bad news for humanity and the environment around us.

Thus far, people have transformed more than 50 percent of the world’s land surface. 37 percent of all land area is now cultivated. Forests, deserts, and grasslands have been turned into farms and plantations, cities and suburbia. Populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians have plummeted 60 percent, on average, since 1970.


The Earth has warmed an average of 1.6 degrees F (1.0 degrees C) over the past 100 years. Some regions have seen two to three times that increase: the Arctic, for example, is warming four times as fast as the rest of the world. Storms, floods, and wildfires are more severe. Sea level is rising. Some of these impacts can be attributed to natural variation, but the science is crystal clear: most of these changes are a consequence of human impact.

The Anthropocene overturns centuries of Western philosophical tradition. It replaces the traditional idea that people are separate from nature with the realization that we are an integral part of it. As we reveal in our documentary film THE HUMAN ELEMENT, when people change the other elements, those elements in turn change us.

In THE HUMAN ELEMENT, Balog serves as our guide to the Anthropocene. The film takes us from Chesapeake Bay and the coal mines of Appalachia to the Rocky Mountains and the forests of California. We meet Americans on the front lines of climate change—and reveal what all this means for our children and our children’s children.

The Human Element

Four Stories About Water – D99’go T0 Baahane’

Producer,co-director, still photographer: Deborah Begel

Co-director, cinematographer, editor: David Lindblom

Executive Producers: Dr. Johnnye Lewis and Chris Shuey

Music: Michael Begay, Sharmita Benally, Heath Bergersen, Kip Powell, Lisa Powell and Andrew Thomas

Interviewers, Translators, Consultants: Sandy Ramone, Sarah Henio-Adeky, and Christine Samuel-Nakamura

Titles, Graphics: SandyKrolick

Ahéhee’– Thanks Also Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency, navajonationepa.org
And thanks to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for support of the DiNEH Project.

TRT: 33m

This is a unique lm in so many ways. It breaks down the causes of water contamination all across Navajo lands. And it’s told in the voices of people who live with these dif culties 24/7. ‘Four Stories About Water’ is most valuable to a problem — and a people — so long overlooked.

Robert Tohe, Environmental Justice Advocate, Flagstaff, Arizona


What the people are saying about their water problems is heartbreaking. This documentary will touch a lot of hearts and minds.

Jeannie Magill, Originator and Co-producer, “Milking the Rhino”


I found ‘Four Stories About Water’ to be informative, moving, and tragic. Also, beautifully shot.

Aaron Leventman, Producer, Moving Image Film Festival


A Deborah Begel production, in association with DiNEH Project of the University of New Mexico and Southwest Research and Information Center, with support from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9. Additional support from the University of New Mexico’s School of Pharmacy, Northern New Mexico College and Canal Seis.

© 2012 Deborah Begel Productions

Walking Thunder

Directed by Santa Fe residents, Cyril Christo & Marie Wilkinson and narrated by their son Lysander. The filmmakers travel with their young son Lysander across East Africa, filming over the course of ten years as they observe the role of the elephant and its own rapidly changing reality. Walking Thunder presents a unique way of engaging a broad audience on these topics, telling a story through a family’s perspective and a child’s eyes. The directors have published photography books and articles, and have lectured and exhibited artwork on the subject internationally- but they see documentary as a way to engage audiences on a wider scale and with greater emotional impact.

TRT: 94 m

Release Year: 2018

Too Precious to Mine

Director: Justin Clifton

TRT: 10m

The Grand Canyon is an irreplaceable natural treasure that draws over 5.5 million visitors to the park each year. Yet, irresponsibly operated uranium mines located on federal public land just miles from the North and South Rims threatens to permanently pollute the Grand Canyon landscape and the greater Colorado River.

I Am Nature

Directed by:  Elke Duerr

TRT: 8m

Elke Duerr, who divides her time between New Mexico, Montana and Europe. I am nature: You are human nature, nature in human form. You humans are the outside Earth, animated Earth. What befall one of us, befalls us all. Now the time has come for reciprocity, for caring for me and yourselves, for giving and receiving, for healing all life on this planet.


Tale of a Toxic Nation

Director: Louis Berry

TRT: 13m

It is the story of a nation rich in resources but weak in political influence. The Navajo Reservation has been left with over 500 abandoned uranium mines; toxic surroundings and an impossible clean up. The story has never been more relevant under an administration threatening to restart uranium mining.


Anthem for the Amazon

Anthem for the Amazon, Amazon Aid Foundation, TRT: 5m
Voices for the Amazon, Amazon Aid Foundation, TRT: 6m
Anthem for the Amazon is a collaboration to unite the world in a compelling call to action to save the world’s greatest rainforest through the universal language of music. 500 children from 50 different countries around the world came together to sing this global anthem and stand up for the Amazon rainforest. We hope you’ll sing along with them.

Hibaksha Remembers

Directed by: Jean E. Stevens

TRT: 7m

Hibaksha Remembers directed by Jean E Stevens. A young teenage poetess witnessed the world’s first nuclear attack on a civilian population. The Hiroshima Hibaksha (nuclear attack victim) used poetic language to describe that morning of August 6, 1945 at 8:15 AM. The narration was recorded on the campus of the University of California in 1986 when the director of this film was in art school. The narrator, a Japanese student, read the young Hibaksha’s account. The Japanese student and the music are now unknown.



Directed By: Jean E. Stevens