FIRE ON THE HILL: THE COWBOYS OF SOUTH CENTRAL L.A.
FIRE ON THE HILL: THE COWBOYS OF SOUTH CENTRAL L.A.

EarthxFilm unveiled its lineup of virtual programming celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, including 36 features and shorts; virtual options for XR experiences; various filmmaker, youth leader live-streams, Q&A’s, panels, live music and EarthxFilmYouth programming. Kicking off with Music on April 17 at 6:00PM EST, EarthxFilm will present the bulk of its programming, including Brett Falentine’s FIRE ON THE HILL: THE COWBOYS OF SOUTH CENTRAL L.A., Alexander John Glustrom’s MOSSVILLE: WHEN GREAT TREES FALL, David Byars’ PUBLIC TRUST, and Deia Schlosberg’s THE STORY OF PLASTIC on April 22-27.

The 2020 EarthxFilm festival supports its filmmakers financially during this uncertain time, with screening fees and online donations collected for the films and filmmakers participating in the virtual film festival presentation. Cash prizes totaling $20,000 will be awarded to filmmakers and the environmental organizations and efforts that the winning films explore at a live-streamed awards ceremony on Sunday, April 27. Additionally, the 2020 Youth Film Competition, a Planet911 Challenge developed in collaboration with Instagram and Creative Visions, will award up to $5,000 in cash and prizes.

“It has been a labor of love to curate the offerings we have the privilege of presenting at this year’s EarthxFilm film festival as we mark a half century of Earth Day,” said Michael Cain, Co-Founder and President of EarthxFilm. “So many of the stories we share about conservation, climate change, and the heroes working to protect our planet are a testament to the triumph of the spirit, and our collective hope for the future.” David Holbrooke, EarthxFilm Artistic Director adds “We can’t think of a better time than now to gather (at a distance) and experience those stories, highlighting the difference we can play.”

Notable virtual attendees for the festival participating in panels, intros, Q/As and musical performances will include EarthxFilm alumni Louie Psihoyos (RACING EXTINCTION, THE GAME CHANGERS), Danni Washington, Jeff Orlowski (CHASING CORAL), Leilani Münter (RACING EXTINCTION), Slater Jewell-Kenker (YOUTH UNSTOPPABLE), Judith Helfand (COOKED), and Danni Washington. They will join filmmakers, music artists, and film subjects from this year’s film presentations, including Matthew Modine (RIPPLE EFFECT), N’Dambi and Classic Roots (TURNING TABLES), and other notables including Dereck and Beverly Joubert (OKAVANGO: RIVER OF DREAMS).

This year’s festival will kick-off with EARTHXDANCE, a live-streamed DJ set featuring Classic Roots, a Toronto-based music producer and performer. Classic Roots developed his renowned original sound through the integration of traditional Anishinaabe drumming and singing with the unique sound of techno/house, highlighting the intersection of urban and indigenous cultures. His performance will begin with a screening of Chrisann Hessing’s documentary short TURNING TABLES about his music and influence.

Highlights of this year’s documentary features include; Brett Falentine’s FIRE ON THE HILL: THE COWBOYS OF SOUTH CENTRAL L.A., a multiple award winner on the film festival circuit about South Central L.A.’s urban cowboy culture and how a mysterious fire in 2012 nearly wrecked it all; Alexander John Glustrom’s MOSSVILLE: WHEN GREAT TREES FALL, about a small town in Louisiana where a giant chemical plant displaced its long-time African-American residents; David Byars’ PUBLIC TRUST, narrated by Robert Redford, which weaves together an assortment of stories connected by the indefatigable journalist, Hal Herring, who works tirelessly to shine a light on the chicanery involved with America’s public lands; and Deia Schlosberg’s THE STORY OF PLASTIC, which looks at the scope and scale of the single-use plastic scourge and how plastic has taken over the world, to a very harmful effect.

In addition to the documentary feature and short screenings, EarthxFilm will also present various XR experiences through EarthXR. “The magic of EarthxFilm and EarthXR has always been in how we can leverage art, music, stories, and media to help audiences holistically connect with the world around us,” added Tiffany Kieran, Director of Interactive Programming for EarthXR. “Our 2020 festival will still deliver this same multi-sensory experience despite our current physical restrictions, potentially bringing together an even broader audience to learn and be inspired toward climate action.”

Highlights of this year’s EarthXR program include Adrien Moisson’s WILD IMMERSION endorsed by Jane Goodall; PIVOT FOR THE PLANET – How the XR industry was prepared to lead on virtual festivals with Sarah Steel, Global Content Partnerships Lead –Google/You Tube and Kris Severson, Director of Global Content Partnerships at HTCVive/VR for Impact; VIRTUAL DIVING FOR CONSERVATION with Google Earth/Underwater Earth with Christophe Bailhache, Sophie Ansel, and Lorna Perry, all of Underwater Earth; A PREDICAMENT OF PANDEMICS with Ulrico Grech-Cumbo and Damien Mander, founder and CEO of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation and GHOST FLEET + THE OUTLAW OCEAN documenting the intersection of environmental justice and human rights with Ian Urbina, bestselling author of The Outlaw Ocean, Lucas Gath, co-director of GHOST FLEET VR, and Niki Joo, trafficking specialist of Mosaic Family Services.

Throughout the festival, EarthxFilm will have youth friendly offerings showing films appropriate for youth and educator audiences that can be incorporated into distance learning curriculum for Earth Month. EarthxFilm will also announce the winners and showcase the top 25 films from the Planet911 Challenge, which in collaboration with Creative Visions and Instagram, asked youth from around the world to show how or why they will protect the planet.

Adding more programming for youth engagement, produced by EarthxFilm, a newly created video series, EarthxFilmYouth Reports, will showcase youth climate activists, environmental experts and young planet heroes. Anchors age 10-22 will interview guests, moderate panels and hold town hall discussions with other environmentally aware young people. A few of the confirmed panels include youth from March For Science, Earth Guardians and One Up Action. Films will also be complemented by work from EarthxFilmYouth’s team of Planet911 reporters, including interviews with directors and PSAs.

In addition to Classic Roots, N’Dambi and other artists will be presenting live musical performances.

EarthxFilm 2020 Virtual Presentation Film Lineup

FEATURE FILMS

CURRENT SEA
Director: Christopher Smith
Country: Cambodia/Malaysia/USA, Running Time: 90 min

Overfishing of the ocean’s waters is happening all over the world, having a horrendous impact not only on marine ecosystems but also on the local fishermen who depend on these habitats for their livelihood. That is undoubtedly the case in Cambodia, where illegal fishing is devastating this once robust seascape. CURRENT SEA explores the situation in a tense and riveting way by following a couple of deeply committed expats who are determined to end this scourge and bring justice to the perpetrators, but of course, put themselves into great peril along the way.

FIRE ON THE HILL: THE COWBOYS OF SOUTH CENTRAL L.A.
Director: Brett Fallentine
Country: USA, Running Time: 79 min

South Central Los Angeles is known for a lot of things, but being home to an urban cowboy culture is not top of the list. FIRE ON THE HILL: THE COWBOYS OF SOUTH CENTRAL L.A. tells the story of this little-known community, and how a mysterious fire in 2012 nearly wrecked it all, but ultimately, this film celebrates how resilience is the key to navigating life. They may have different paths, but being on a horse keeps these three cowboys moving forward against all the odds.

LAST WILD PLACES
Directors: Vanessa Serrao, Sarah Joseph
Country: USA, Running Time: 60 min

The famed biologist E.O. Wilson has worked to start a campaign called Half Earth, which posits that we need to put aside fifty percent of the planet’s surface and dedicate it to animal species. It is a big, bold idea, and the National Geographic Society is making its own ambitious efforts on this with its own Campaign for Nature, which aims to protect thirty percent of the planet by 2030. LAST WILD PLACES is a film that looks at different areas around the world where this effort is already underway, and it has to be given how quickly 2030 is coming up.

MOSSVILLE: WHEN GREAT TREES FALL
Director: Alexander John Glustrom
Country: USA, Running Time: 75 min

MOSSVILLE: WHEN GREAT TREES FALL is haunting, disturbing and essential viewing. It tells the story of Mossville, a small town in Louisiana where a giant chemical plant has landed, displacing its long-time African-American residents. One of them says in a home video: “I am human just like you. I breathe. I think. Just like you.” She died from cancer not long after, and her son Stacey says, “That is why we fight.” In the long-time, uphill battle for environmental justice, “disposable people,” as another character says, are left behind. It is tragic and heartbreaking, but there are people – and you meet them in this forcible documentary – who are not going to go without a fight, which is deeply inspiring. “I want them to know that we existed.”

PUBLIC TRUST
Director: David Byars
Country: USA, Running Time: 96 min

Our public lands are a complicated mix of good intentions and shady deals, which this documentary does its damndest to explain. What we learn is that very little is straightforward in this murky world as various entities, including politicians, ranchers, extractionists, and outdoor enthusiasts, all jockey for some part of what rightly belongs to every American. Narrated by Robert Redford and executive produced by Yvon Chouinard with Patagonia, PUBLIC TRUST weaves together an assortment of stories, connected by the indefatigable journalist, Hal Herring. Working tirelessly to shine a light on the chicanery involved with public lands, Herring also shows us why they matter – or should matter so much to each of us.

THE GREAT GREEN WALL
Director: Jared P. Scott
Country: USA, Running Time: 91 min

This documentary pulses with energy and purpose as it follows the Malian singer, Inna Modja, on her ambitious and inspiring journey across Africa. Her mission is to help build a green wall of trees that will start to offset the desertification happening in the Sahel region that is particularly feeling the effects of climate change. It is not an easy journey. There are multiple challenges from skeptics and other oppositions, but Modja is formidable and will not be defeated. Ultimately, this will be an 8000-kilometer edifice, the largest natural structure in the world, three times the size of the Great Barrier Reef. It is well on its way, so far, having built fifteen percent, proving determination can conquer the seemingly impossible.

THE STORY OF PLASTIC
Director: Deia Schlosberg
Country: USA, Running Time: 89 min

In the 1967 film, THE GRADUATE, Dustin Hoffman’s character, Benjamin Braddock, a recent college graduate, is told by a family friend, that the future is plastics. How right he was. And how unfortunate that he was so right because single-use plastics have such a pernicious effect on our lives, it is often hard to comprehend. THE STORY OF PLASTIC works to help us understand the scope and scale of this global scourge. Produced with the same folks who made the widely-seen STORY OF STUFF, this documentary takes us around the globe to see how plastic has taken over our world, having a deleterious impact that is far beyond anything imagined by screenwriters more than 50 years ago.

SHORT FILMS

A FISTFUL OF RUBBISH
Director: David Regos
Country: Spain, Running Time: 14 min

This film feels funnily familiar because it takes some of the famous tropes of spaghetti westerns from a time gone by, and gives it a clever twist. What is significantly less clever is the real-world message that this doc conveys. It appears the iconic sets for these famous films have now been trashed with, well, trash. Luckily, there is an effort afoot to right this wrong and clean up the mess left behind.

AKASHINGA
Director: Maria Wilhelm
Country: USA, Zimbabwe, Running Time: 14 min

The illegal hunting and killing of elephants has been an enormous challenge for Zimbabwe. In an effort to combat this scourge, the country has established an elite troop of rangers, all of whom are women, and called Akashinga. The film, executive produced by James Cameron, shows how the women’s training is brutal and rigorous, but their commitment unwavering, motivated by a steadfast belief in their mission.

CHASING GHOSTS
Director: Eric Bendick
Country: USA, Running Time: 16 min

This all-too-true film is the stuff of myth and legend where obsessive people have strange yet intriguing quests that take them to alluring landscapes. The people in this story are scientists and photographers. The setting is a murky, muddy, alligator, and snake-filled swamp in a remote part of Florida, a character in itself. What consumes them is the Ghost Orchid, a rare and enigmatic flower. Their mission: to identify the pollinator – which remains unknown.

COUNTER MAPPING
Directors: Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, Adam Loften
Country: USA, Running Time: 10 min

Jim Enote, a traditional Zuni farmer and Director of the Ashiwi Awan Museum and Heritage Center, is working with Zuni artists to create maps that bring an indigenous voice and perspective back to the land. The goal, to counter Western notions of place and geography while challenging the arbitrary borders imposed on the Zuni world.

EPOCH
Director: Kevin McGloughlin
Country: USA, Running Time: 2 min

This short is a visual poem about our land told through the aerial eye of Google Earth. We are challenged through this lens to understand how both resilient and fragile this planet truly is.

FERRYMAN AT THE WALL
Director: David Freid
Country: USA, Running Time: 16 min

Nature knows no borders we learn in this short documentary spanning all three countries in North America. We begin down south, where we meet the Ferryman of the title and other compelling local characters with a smart take on what is actually happening in this controversial landscape. A hop north reveals that what is happening south of the border is wildly similar to what’s mirrored on the Canadian side, proving nature does not take sides.

GOLDEN
Director: Charles Post
Country: USA, Running Time: 8 min

Eagles are an iconic raptor in this country but not an easy species to study. It requires long travels to remote landscapes and feats of derring-do, like rappelling into eagle’s nests. Perhaps, in part, it is those extra degrees of difficulty that drew Caitlin Davis to this challenging work, but it is, in fact, something that she actually dreamed about as a child. Once you meet Caitlin Davis in GOLDEN, it will all make sense.

LOST WORLD
Director: Kalyanee Mam
Country: USA, Running Time: 16 min

National interests can end up creating some unusual unforeseen situations. LOST WORLD tells a surprising story of how the small but financially ambitious city-state of Singapore dredges sand from under Cambodia’s mangrove forests to create an artificial “natural” landscape. Seen through the eyes of a Cambodian woman who knows how important mangroves are to ecosystems, we witness how much she and her country is losing in this unfortunate exchange.

LOWLAND KIDS
Director: Sandra Winther
Country: USA, Running Time: 22 min

Of course, it is hard to know, but it is estimated that there will be 150 million people across the world who will become refugees because of the climate crisis and the attendant rising seas. LOWLAND KIDS looks at the first Americans who will be forced from their homes. These people reside on the Isle de Jean Charles along the Louisiana coast, including a pair of teenagers who are desperately hoping to stay on the island where their family has lived for generations.

MATTHEW MODINE’S RIPPLE EFFECT
Directors: Matthew Modine and Andrew Klein
Country: USA, Running Time: 8 min

For almost four decades, Matthew Modine has been making movies, leaving a real imprint on audiences. His own deeply thought-provoking Director:ectorial efforts are less known. With RIPPLE EFFECT, Modine, a long-time activist and environmentalist, seeks to find what famed ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau called “wavemakers,” the remarkable people making extraordinary efforts to save our seas. Modine will be in attendance in Dallas at the second screening if his shooting schedule allows it.

MELTED
Director: Sierra Quitiquit
Country: USA, Running Time: 5 min

Melted imagines the future of the world if nothing is done to address the global climate crisis. The year is 2098, the ice caps have melted and all the snow is gone. The world we live in is barren, dry, dystopian and inhospitable to human life. The pursuit of adventure remains as the protagonists seeks the thrill of skiing. Budding filmmaker and professional skier, Sierra Quitiquit makes her directorial debut with this beautiful and emotionally provocative plea to protect what is dearest to her – snow, the natural world and this beautiful planet.

NOBODY DIES IN LONYEARBYEN
Director: David Freid
Country: USA, Running Time: 9 min

Longyearbyen, Norway, the world’s northernmost city, creates a challenge for people who live there: you are not allowed to be buried there. The permafrost preserves bodies in its icy embrace. Of course, it is tragically melting, creating new disturbing challenges, like the recent flooding of the famous Seed Bank in Svalbard. What the smartly directed film really wants to know is what zombie viruses – or people – could emerge from this arctic underground?

ODE TO DESOLATION
Director: Lindsey Hagen
Country: USA, Running Time: 14 min

Fire lookouts used to abound across the wilderness in North America, but like so much in the woods, they have become diminished. There are a variety of reasons, including less wild places and advanced technology, but there are some folks still out there looking for smoke amidst the trees. ODE TO DESOLATION introduces us to Jim Henterly, a naturalist and illustrator who continues to do this unusual yet valuable work.

ON A WING AND A PRAYER
Director: Dominic Gill
Country: USA, Running Time: 11 min

The Louisiana Wetlands are a national treasure that few folks really know about. Filmmakers Nadia and Dominic Gill set out into this untold region to tell us more about a low-flying, high-risk happy pilot and the curious people who inhabit this incredible place in ON A WING AND A PRAYER, a section of the overall film LAST CALL FOR THE BAYOU.

SACRED STRIDES
Directors: Forest Woodward, Anna Callaghan, Marie Sullivan
Country: USA, Running Time: 13 min

For many, running heals, but the runners in this film are looking to do more than to feel good – they want their moving feet to have an impact on a critical issue: the Bears Ear National Monument. Since President Obama proclaimed the monument, entities who wish to extract from the mineral-rich region have contested it. On the other side are environmental activists and indigenous people running 800 miles to protect their sacred land.

SAVING SALMA
Director: James Robinson
Country: Indonesia/USA, Running Time: 7 min

This clever short doc tells the story of a young Indonesian elephant named Salma. She had fallen into a hole and was near death when a local conservation group led by a Goldman-prize winning activist banded together with some other noble folks to rescue the gentle giant. The film is both gripping and strangely fun to watch as Salma finds her way back to health.

SHOULDERS DEEP
Director: John Fiege
Country: USA, Running Time: 7 min

Aniya Wingate was 17 years old when Hurricane Harvey viciously swept into her hometown of Houston, Texas, and displaced her from her grandmother’s home. She tragically became a climate refugee, which will become an all-too-common story with millions more expected to follow this bleak path in the future. However, Wingate was determined not to let this derail her life and decided to process this extremely challenging experience through a beautifully compelling dance performance.

STEP OUTSIDE
Director: Quinn Costello
Country: USA, Running Time: 9 min

The environmental movement has been working towards positive change for at least half a century, yet this remains hard to come by. That is why many in the movement believe that peaceful civil disobedience is the best tactic for change. Step Outside tells the story of a one-day protest walk in the Bay area in an activist effort to shut down the Wells Fargo global headquarters.

THE CHURCH FORESTS OF ETHIOPIA
Director: Jeremy Seifert
Country: USA, Running Time: 10 min

Allies in the environmental movement can be surprising sometimes. Cue Ethiopia, where the Orthodox Churches have stepped up in the effort to save the country’s forests. The Churches are often surrounded by pockets of primary forest, their faithful making it their duty to help preserve these native landscapes struggling and clear cut from farming and grazing. It is not easy work but perhaps made easier because the church people believe they are doing God’s work.

THE LONG HAUL
Directors: Scott Yorko, Zach Doleac
Country: USA, Running Time: 14 min

Keeping expeditions supplied is hard work out there on the northside of Alaska’s Denali mountain. Motorized support is not permitted, and the conditions are brutal, with efforts considered to be more perilous than the world-famous Iditarod. Of course, the people who do this work are not famous, but this short doc shows just how challenging their task is and why they are the right ones to do the job.

THE LOVE BUGS
Directors: Allison Otto, Maria Clinton
Country: USA, Running Time: 34 min

“Our love for each other is just beyond me to analyze … we’re scientists, not behaviorists,” says Charles O’Brien, lifelong entomologist, and dedicated husband. While he is reluctant to talk about their relationship, he is voluble about the work that he and his wife, Lois, did over their career, which has led to the collection and identification of more than a million insect species — the world’s most extensive private collection. This joyful, and yes, loving film recognizes and appreciates their pure passion for each other and the marvelous yet peculiar field of entomology while highlighting their efforts to protect the future of their invaluable insect collection in their old age.

THE RIVER IS ME
Director: David Freid
Country: USA, New Zealand, Running Time: 17 min

This river is now legally a person, but what constitutes a river is up for debate.

THE WILD INSIDE
Director: Andrew Michael Ellis
Country: USA, Running Time: 14 min

Horses can be healing for people and in the short documentary Wild Inside, those people are prisoners and the horses they are learning to train are wild. It’s hard and dangerous work but it gives these men purpose and a real skill that could be helpful on the outside. It also can help them process their problems through that unique bond between man and horse.

THIS LAND
Directors: Chelsea Jolly, Whit Hassett
Country: USA, Running Time: 10 min

Conservationists used to be primarily white men – sometimes bearded, usually cranky – but today’s activists are often people of color. They are also young, passionate, and willing to put themselves in peril for their cause. Faith E. Briggs, advocate and owner of public lands, makes an impact by running 150 miles through three imperiled National Monuments. Arduous but worthwhile, her act inspires each of her fellow landowners to do more to preserve this land.

TURNING TABLES
Director: Chrisann Hessing
Country: USA, Running Time: 17 min

Joshua DePerry, also known as Classic Roots, is a Toronto-based music producer and performer pioneering “PowWow techno.” Deftly navigating the two worlds that inspire his music, he puts his own spin on what it means to be urban and Indigenous.

VENTURE OUT
Directors: Palmer Morse, Jamie DiNicola, Matt Mikkelsen
Country: USA, Running Time: 15 min

For some people, coming out as LGBTQ is intimidating enough, but what about queer folks that also want to get out – as in outdoors? To lead the inexperienced, Perry Cohen started a non-profit called Venture Out that works to encourage and inspire the LGBTQ community to take trips into the wilderness and see what a life-improving – if not life-saving – experience this can be.

WHEN THE EARTH MOVES
Director: Julio Palacio
Country: USA, Running Time: 7 min

In 1970, Earth Day was a smart new idea that has since turned – fifty years later – into a global phenomenon. This short documentary shares the origin story of how this all came about by using old footage and new interviews with people who carry on the critical work of saving our planet today.

WILD SPACE
Director: Jordan Manley
Country: Canada, Running Time: 9 min

This high-energy, fast-paced short documentary follows Natalie Panek who is an actual rocket scientist who focuses on space junk. She also loves getting into the backcountry and its wide open spaces, which is perhaps why she is so committed to also making sure that we clean up those outer orbits.

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