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Public Trust directed by David Garrett Byars
Public Trust directed by David Garrett Byars

The award-winning documentary feature Public Trust from director David Garrett Byars (No Man’s Land), executive producers Yvon Chouinard, Robert Redford and Patagonia Films, will be released on Friday, September 25 ahead of National Public Lands Day 2020, one day later. A series of Drive-In events will be held across the U.S. on or around September 1 ahead of the film’s release.

Directed by David Garrett Byars and produced by Jeremy Rubingh, Public Trust had its world premiere and won the Big Sky Award at the 2020 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula, Montana on President’s Day. Public Trust received the Audience Choice Award at the 2020 Mountainfilm in Telluride, Colorado and won the Audience Award at the 2020 Ashland Independent Film Festival in Ashland, Oregon. The film is an official selection of Camden International Film Festival this October.

In a time of growing polarization, there is one thing a majority of Americans still share and agree on: Our 640 million acres of public lands and waters – held in trust for the benefit of all citizens – should be protected. These wild places are intrinsic to our national identity, offer a solution to mitigate the climate crisis, provide habitat to animals large and small, and offer the most magnificent landscapes in the world. Through the work of Montana investigative journalist Hal Herring, Public Trust focuses on three land-based conflicts—the slashing of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah; the potential permanent destruction of the Boundary Waters Wilderness in Minnesota; and the de facto sale of one of the last wild places in America, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The film makes a clear case for protecting our public lands and how the extractive industries, driven by only greed and profit, are trying to rob us and future generations of our shared American experience and heritage.

Since it was signed into law over 100 years ago by President Teddy Roosevelt, every president except three – Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush – has used their authority established under the Antiquities Act to protect public lands and waters. And despite increased polarization on nearly every issue, there is widespread bipartisan support for our public lands and waters. According to a 2019 Conservation in the West poll, more than two-thirds of voters in Western states, a majority of Democrats and Republicans, think Congress should emphasize conservation on public lands.

“Our country is fortunate to have millions of acres of public lands, including National Parks, Monuments, Wildlife Refuges and Wilderness set aside for future generations,” said Executive Producer Robert Redford. “Sadly, these lands that belong to you and me are under unprecedented threats from the greed of big corporations, eager to weaken restrictions in the pursuit of profits. Many of our current politicians are also to blame. Public Trust, tells the story of citizens who are fighting back. It’s a much-needed wake-up call for all of us who want to preserve our unique and wild cultural heritage.“

Using extensive research and interviews with tribal leaders, government whistleblowers, journalists, and historians, Public Trust follows the people who are fighting back and the forces they are up against. Along the way, we meet the heroic activists who are defending the land from corrupt interests including: Angelo Baca, a Native American activist working to protect Bears Ears; Bernadette Dimientieff, a mother, grandmother, and executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee an organization formed to protect the Arctic Wildlife Refuge; and Spencer Shaver, a fierce defender of the Boundary Waters Wilderness where he grew up hunting and fishing. These stories bring us from the past and speak to the uncertain future of our public lands.


The Arizona premiere of Public Trust will be on September 1st at 7:30 pm (Gates open at 5:30 pm) at Cactus Drive-In in Tucson.


The Colorado premiere of Public Trust will be on September 1st at 8:00 pm (Gates open at 7:00 pm) at Comanche Drive-In in Buena Vista.


The Maine premiere of Public Trust will be on August 30th at 8:00 pm (Gates open at 6:30 pm) at Saco Drive-In in Saco.


The Montana theatrical premiere of Public Trust will be on September 1st at 8:55 pm (Gates open at 7:45 pm) at Amusement Park Drive-In in Billings.


The North Carolina premiere of Public Trust will be on September 1st at 8:00 pm (Gates open at 7:00 pm) at Raleigh Road Drive-In in Henderson.

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