Return of the Musk Ox
Most of our screenings are enriched by discussions or Q&A sessions with visiting filmmakers, environmental experts, and other special guests. Below are just some of the bios of those attending. Bios will continue to be added throughout the Festival.
Hamilton will be discussing The Meaning of Wild.
Ben Hamilton is a filmmaker and outdoor enthusiast. He travels the world, loves the outdoors, and is infatuated with wildlife. Everyday in the field is a new learning experience and he strives to capture and share the majesty of our planet. Ben works as a freelance cameraman for National Geographic, Military Channel, among many others. His work has placed him face to face with a king cobra, hanging on a zip-line over alligators, surrounded by grizzly bears, eating unbelievably bizarre foods, and sitting in awe of the largest tidewater glacier in North America. When he is not working as a freelance cameraman Ben runs Pioneer Videography LLC. He founded Pioneer in 2007 and since has produced content ranging from environmental documentaries to tourism commercials. Conservation has always been at the center of Pioneer's productions and Ben continues to pitch socially responsible films today. Ben is Leave No Trace certified and is dedicated to minimal impact filming in the wild.
Hawkins will be discussing Extinction in Progress.
Frank Hawkins is a conservation biologist and policy advisor with many years of experience working with governments, civil society and local communities in Africa and around the world. Prior to joining IUCN, Dr Hawkins was Senior Vice-President at Conservation International. In addition to leading CI’s programme in Africa and Madagascar, he worked closely on green economy policy and land-use planning issues, emphasizing the value of nature as the basis for sustainable development, particularly in Liberia, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar and South Africa. He has collaborated with the US government and US-based institutions on a range of policy issues based on that field experience, including links between economic growth and natural resource use, mechanisms for promoting green investment, and multi-stakeholder engagement processes. He has organized events to highlight the potential for public-private partnerships to deliver nature-based development. Dr. Hawkins is delighted to have the chance to work within IUCN and outside to move these partnership opportunities to a higher level. For 20 years until 2007, Dr Hawkins worked primarily in Madagascar, with CI and other NGOs, where he conducted research on birds, lemurs and carnivores, and supported the government, local communities and local NGOs in implementing the National Environmental Action Plan. He has written or co-authored over 60 peer-reviewed papers and 10 books, the latest of which, the Birds of the Malagasy Region, will be published later this year. Dr Hawkins has joint UK and Canadian nationality, and is married with two teenage daughters. When not sampling the manifold delights of biodiversity around the world, he enjoys cycling, cheese and cinema, not necessarily in that order.
Johnson will be discussing Roaming Wild.
Sylvia Johnson made her first film as a Fulbright scholar in the ghettos of Brazil. The documentary film short, “Alagados,” was nominated for an award by the International Documentary Association, and screened as an official selection at film festivals across the globe. She is the founder of The Alagados Project, a 501c3 nonprofit that provides college scholarships as an exit strategy from poverty for talented first generation college students from the community where the film was made. Sylvia works as a producer, cinematographer, and editor through her production company, Free Roaming Studios. Her clients include top leadership of organizations such as the National Park Service and the Inter-American Culture and Development Foundation. Sylvia’s work has screened at Aspen Shortsfest, Telluride Mountainfilm, National Geographic, deadCENTER, and the American Conservation Film Festival among others. Born in Bolivia and raised in six different countries, Sylvia is a global citizen who loves sharing the world with others through film.
Kalina will be discussing Shored Up.
Ben is a film director and producer whose work focuses on the intersection of science, culture and the environment. He directs and produces original documentaries, narrative shorts and cross-media projects as well as client-driven video productions. Ben has worked for years with Niijii Films on the documentaries Two Square Miles and A Sea Change, two award winning films which have been successfully deployed for environmental justice and education, and both of which have been nationally broadcast in the U.S. Among his current projects Ben is currently directing and producing Shored Up, which explores the Army Corps’ controversial and ongoing beach replenishment project along the New Jersey Shore. In addition to his documentary work Ben has won several international awards for his short narrative film, Diorama.
Kaplan will be discussing A Will for the Woods.
Jeremy Kaplan is a director, cinematographer, and editor who resides in Brooklyn, N.Y. He received his B.A. from Boston College in Film and Philosophy and his M.A. in Documentary/Media Studies at The New School. His documentary work has brought him across the globe to Costa Rica, Egypt, and South Korea. He has produced award-winning short fiction films while short documentaries he has worked on played more recently at the Woodstock Film Festival and Africa World Documentary Film Festival. The topics have ranged from the environmental impact of American corporations in Costa Rica to a portrait of a progressive New York orthodox Jewish community. In 2009, he was a post-production intern on the 2010 Oscar-nominated documentary, Restrepo. While considering himself mostly a documentarian, he has worked as a producer and production manager for fiction films including the feature length film, Surviving Family (2012). The almost four years spent on A Will for the Woods have been the most gratifying work yet due to moving subject matter and the collaborative nature of the project.
Kass will be discussing Emptying the Skies.
Douglas Kass is an Adjunct Professor of Filmmaking and Film Studies at Elon University in the United States of America. He has a Master of Arts degree from the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television and a Bachelor of Arts degree with High Honors in Film/Art from Wesleyan University, where he also received the prestigious Frank Capra Award. Emptying the Skies is Mr. Kass’ first feature-length film. His previous work includes several shorts – subjects including the documentary Behind the Walls of S-21, a devastating recollection of life and death at the notorious S-21 Prison during the Khmer Rouge era in Cambodia. This film includes rare interviews with survivors and the prison’s most notorious executioner. Behind the Walls of S-21 was funded by the United Nations and distributed by The Documentation Center of Cambodia on Independent Networks though out Asia.
Kelley will be discussing The Meaning of Wild.
J.J. Kelley is a distinguished filmmaker and adventurer. A producer at National Geographic, Kelley has been contributing to the production of original content for The National Geographic Channel, NOVA, The New York Times and PBS. Some of his shows include The President’s Photographer, Bones of Turkana, and Battle for the Elephants a 2013 one-hour special investigating the illicit trade in elephant ivory. He is also the co-creator of the adventure production company, Dudes on Media. His award winning feature documentaries have aired NBC Universal Sports, PBS, Outside TV and 10 international television networks, in addition to winning over 20 film festival awards including The Best Environmental Film Award at the 2013 Sedona Int’l Film Festival. Paddler Magazine called his Emmy nominated second film, Paddle to Seattle “the best feature film about paddling produced in the past decade.” Kelley is an Appalachian Trail Thru-hiker, biked across Alaska, kayaked from Alaska to Seattle, and traveled the length of The River Ganges. He regularly stops in the studios as a guest on National Geographic Weekend to share his most recent adventures. This will Kelley’s 4th visit to EFF, pervious films include: Bones of Turkana, Battle for the Elephants and Go Ganges!
King will be discussing Haiti Redux.
Fredric King was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Streets of Legend. The film was also the winner of Best Cinematography at Sundance. Fredric developed Blue Valentine, he launched the distribution arm of his company, Fountainhead Transmedia to spearhead the domestic and international sales of his cult film B.I.K.E. When not making movies or video games, Fredric is making concrete in Haiti to aid in the rebuilding efforts. While in production of Haiti Redux, a documentary about the reconstruction efforts after the earthquake of January 12, 2010. Fredric recognized the significant potential impact of private sector investment in 2011 he conceived, formed and launched the Haitian American Reconstruction Partnership (HARP) to harness this potential to affect positive social change.
Knight will be discussing DamNation.
Ben, a self-taught photographer/filmmaker jumped ship after a decade at a daily newspaper just before the industry began cutting back and rolled the dice with his friend Travis—starting a small production company called Felt Soul Media. Ben was raised in North Carolina, but has spent the past 17 years in Telluride, Colorado where he spends the majority of his time in a dimly lit room obsessing over how best to tell an obscure story. Felt Soul Media has a neatly organized pile of awards on display in a tiny closet in Ben’s office.
Elizabeth Kucinich, Policy Director for the Center For Food Safety, is a sustainable pure food and vegan advocate, a champion for peace, human and animal rights and the environment. As a key advocate for GMO labeling, she was Executive Producer for the documentary, GMO OMG, which will be screening this year at the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital. She serves on the board of the Rodale Institute, America's oldest organic research institute.
Liang will be performing and discussing Himalaya Song.
Dave Liang is the Emmy winning creator and producer of The Shanghai Restoration Project, an electronic group that combines Chinese instrumentation with hip-hop and electronica. His music has reached the top of the electronic charts and can often be heard in TV shows, radio programs, and advertising campaigns around the world. His projects have received coverage in The New York Times, NPR, BBC, and The Wall Street Journal. He has performed at the Sundance Film Festival, the American Museum of Natural History, MASS MoCA, the Hong Kong New Vision Festival and recently returned from touring in Indonesia and Japan. In addition to his production work for artists on his own label Undercover Culture Music, Liang has also worked with artists on Bad Boy, Warner, and Universal. His most recent album The Classics was featured on NPR's All Things Considered and consists of remakes of classic 1930s Shanghai jazz standards.