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 over 200 filmmakers and special guests who will attend the 2013 Environmental Film Festival and make it a unique and prescient event. Please check back often as new bios are added regularly! For specific information on who will be speaking with each film and event, please refer to the film description pages.
Mam will be discussing A RIVER CHANGES COURSE
Kalyanee was born in Battambang, Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge Regime. In 1979, she and her family fled the refugee camps at the Thai-Cambodian border and eventually immigrated to the United States. Even to this day her mother recounts stories of their flight. Kalyanee's father walked ahead of the family to protect them from land mines. They slept on pieces of plastic laid across the wet, jungle floor, while constantly evading soldiers pursuing them along the way. These stories and many others inspired Kalyanee to return to her native homeland for the first time in 1998, during the summer of her junior year at Yale. And they continue to inspire her to make films about atrocities occurring in Cambodia even today. But she was not always a filmmaker. After graduating from UCLA Law School, she worked as a legal consultant in Mozambique and Iraq. In Mozambique, she discovered a passion for photography. In Iraq, she discovered a passion for advocacy on important contemporary issues. These two passions enabled her to direct, produce, and shoot her first documentary short Between Earth & Sky (co-director David Mendez) about Iraqi refugees. And also led her to work as Cinematographer, Associate Producer, and Researcher on the Oscar-winning documentary, Inside Job with director Charles Ferguson. Kalyanee hopes to continue to combine her passion for art and advocacy to tell both compelling and universal stories.
McGrain will be discussing THE LOST BIRD PROJECT.
Todd McGrain has been a sculptor for over 25 years. During this time he has received a number of grants and awards including the Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. McGrain has permanent sculpture installations at the Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, New York; St. Paul Sculpture Park, St. Paul, Minnesota; Kissimmee Prairie Preserve, Okeechobee, Florida; Brand Park, Elmira, New York; Grange Audubon Center, Columbus Ohio; Kohler Art Center, Kohler, Wisconsin; Museum Civico Zoologia, Rome Italy. For the past ten years, McGrain has been directing his strengths as a sculptor toward the Lost Bird Project. He is on the faculty at Cornell University.
Christopher (Toby) McLeod
McLeod will be discussing STANDING ON SACRED GROUND: PILGRIMS AND TOURISTS IN THE PASTURES OF HEAVEN and STANDING ON SACRED GROUND: PROFIT AND LOSS
Producer/Director Christopher (Toby) McLeod circled the globe for five years filming the Standing on Sacred Ground series (2013). The four documentaries feature indigenous leaders taking stands for ecology and culture against government megaprojects, mining corporations, religious intolerance and climate change. McLeod founded the Sacred Land Film Project at Earth Island Institute in 1984 to make high-impact documentary films relevant to indigenous communities and modern audiences. He produced and directed In the Light of Reverence (P.O.V., 2001) and other award-winning documentary films: The Four Corners: A National Sacrifice Area? (1983), Downwind/Downstream (1988), and NOVA: Poison in the Rockies (1990). Awards include the Council on Foundation’s Henry Hampton Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship for filmmaking and a Student Academy Award in 1983. His first film was The Cracking of Glen Canyon Damn – with Edward Abbey and Earth First! McLeod holds a master’s degree from U.C. Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and a B.A. in American History from Yale.
McMannis will be discussing EMPOWERED: POWER FROM THE PEOPLE.
Suzanne McMannis homesteads with her husband, Lynn, on 50 acres in Freeville, NY. After building their barn and straw bale house and putting in an orchard, gardens, ponds, and pastures for their sheep and dairy cow, they started an organic vegetable CSA that keeps them completely out of trouble with its never-ending workload. They heat and cook with wood and have lived off-the-grid for a decade (with a 1kW Bergey wind turbine and 720W of solar panels).
Mercouffer will be discussing ROCK THE BOAT.
Born and raised in Romania, Thea and her family escaped the communist dictatorship in 1989, and immigrated to the US, where she continued to pursue her passion for acting and directing. In 1995 Thea received an MFA from the University of Washington. She worked as an actor in theater in film nationally and internationally, and since 2002, she has dedicated her time exclusively to film directing, her attention keenly focused on social issues. Thea directed, co-produced and co-wrote 6 films about sexual assault, in six different languages, as an educational tool for various immigrant communities in the US. Her documentary on human trafficking, I just keep quiet won the Pegasus Award for Excellence – the highest honor for government-sponsored projects. Heather and Goliath, her short doc about the whistleblower who brought the LA River to national attention in 2008, garnered multiple awards at national and international festivals. Rock the Boat – her first feature doc – was completed in late 2012 and has already won the People's Choice Award at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, the Isla Earth Award for Environmental Filmmaking at the Catalina Film Fest, and Best Feature at FILMAntrhopy. Thea lives and works in Venice, CA with her husband, their two children and Moxy the dog.
Mesila will be discussing Selections from Matsalu Nature Film Festival, Estonia.
Tiit Mesila is an Estonian journalist and screenwriter.
For much of his career Tiit worked for major Estonian film studios Tallinnfilm and Eesti Reklaamfilm where he mainly focused on documentaries as a screenwriter and producer. In 1970ies he was one of the co-founders of film-commercials production which back then was something new in Soviet Estonia and Soviet Union as a whole.Tiit has also worked as an editor and editor-in-chief for some Estonian newspapers and magazines.
Since 2003 Tiit Mesila is the director of International Matsalu Nature Film Festival.
Meyer will be discussing THE LOST BIRD PROJECT.
Muffie Meyer, well-known for directing the original documentary, Grey Gardens (with the Maysles & Ellen Hovde). has worked extensively for PBS, where her credits as producer/director include: Dolley Madison; The New Medicine; Liberty! (6-part mini-series); Benjamin Franklin (3-part mini-series); American Photography: A Century of Images (a 3-part mini-series); Behind the Scenes, (ten-part series about the arts). She has made films for Nova, American Experience, and Nature. In addition, she directed (with Ellen Hovde) the feature film Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (Virginia’s Story) starring Ellen Barkin and David Strathairn. Her productions have received Emmys, the Peabody Award, the Columbia DuPont Journalism award, the Japan Prize (among others). She has lectured at Harvard, Princeton, NYU, York University (Canada) and more.
Monroe will be discussing Rivers Lost, Found, and Turned-Around.
Jeremy Monroe is the Director of Freshwaters Illustrated. "I see my job as helping to reconnect people to the vibrance, diversity, and profound importance of freshwater ecosystems. My background in aquatic ecology helps me to access stories and people that can help share and celebrate the beauty and value of freshwater life, and with a talented group of visual artists and communicators, I work to make those stories as compelling as they can be. I live with my wife and two daughters within canoe-carrying distance to Oregon’s Willamette River."
Olds will be discussing THE AGE OF ALUMINUM.
Dr. Jim Olds is Director and Chief Academic Unit Officer, Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study and Krasnow University Professor of Molecular Neuroscience. His scientific interests focus on the functional role of the mammalian neocortex, hippocampus and cerebellum, in health and disease, with special emphasis on how these highly ordered neuroanatomical regions interact to store and retrieve complex memories (ranging from face recognition to motor programs). He also has an interest in public policy, especially with regard to federal funding of biomedical research here in the United States and around the world.
Ortiz will be discussing AMAZON GOLD.
Vice President and co-founder of ACA, is one of Peru’s most respected conservationists, having established one of the first environmental groups in Peru (APECO). He has excellent scientific credentials as an authority on rainforest management and has worked with major groups such as Conservation International, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
Pakenham will be discussing IDLE THREAT.
My role as an activist in the environmental movement is quite focused on idling. Focused and personal. It began more than 4 years ago when we went to war for a second time in the Middle East over oil. And it became ever more aggravating for me to watch fellow NYers, mindless at the wheel, idling their engines and wasting gas… or oil as I saw it. Besides, I felt it was disgraceful on many fronts. Bad Air, health issues, wasted money.
One evening, I became particularly fed up with a stretch limo parked in front of my apartment house, idling, as his customers were inside a nearby restaurant. It was spring, at night and around 50 degrees outside. I knocked on the window. The limo driver and I had a 10 minute discussion. Ultimately, I convinced him to shut off his engine.
This first success gave me courage. For the next six months I would follow the same procedure on my way to and from work and on the weekends. I found myself becoming more and more successful.
Palmer will be participating in several events at American University throughout the festival, including SHOOTING IN THE WILD.
Chris Palmer is a wildlife filmmaker who joined the SOC faculty in 2004. Since then, he has founded its Center for Environmental Filmmaking; launched Classroom in the Wild, which takes students to the Florida Everglades, Alaska and other wilderness areas to make films; and initiated collaborations with Maryland Public Television, which broadcasts SOC student films as part of its “EcoViews” series about the Chesapeake Bay, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which gives students an opportunity to participate in many of its media projects. Palmer has produced hundreds of hours of films for television and the global network of IMAX theaters. He and his colleagues have won numerous awards, including two Emmys, an Oscar nomination and, most recently, the Environmental Film Educator of the Decade Award at the Green Globe Film Awards. His book, “Shooting in the Wild”, was published last May by Sierra Club Books. He holds a BS (First Class Honors) in Mechanical Engineering from University College London; an MS in Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture from University College London; an MPA from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
Patch will be discussing THE LAST ICE MERCHANT.
Sandy Patch has worked as an editor, colorist, engineer, and post consultant. He worked at Company 3 in Santa Monica, where he headed the company's digital lab, and currently works as a colorist at Final Frame Post, a boutique post house in Manhattan. This is his first film.
Pedersen will be discussing HOW I BECAME AN ELEPHANT.
As a producer, Alec has contributed to such groundbreaking documentary films as The Cove, UNITY – Shaun Monson’s epic second chapter in the EARTHLINGS trilogy which is coming to US theaters this summer, as well as the follow-up to The Cove, hitting theaters next year.
Alec’s undercover film work with Cove director Louie Psihoyos, Charles Hambleton, and other Oceanic Preservation Society team members during the film’s successful Academy Award season in 2010 exposed a popular Santa Monica, CA restaurant that was serving endangered sei whale, horsemeat, and blowfish. This sting operation resulted in a federal grand jury indictment to the restaurant and two of its sushi chefs with fines of up to $1.2 million and up to 67 years in prison. It is illegal to sell any kind of whale meat in the U.S.
Alec Pedersen lives in Los Angeles and owns a successful financial planning practice in Beverly Hills. Among his other duties in the field of animal conservation, Alec is proudly serving as the CFO on “How I Became an Elephant.”
Peoples will be discussing INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT IN TANZANIA: HEALTHY PEOPLE, HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT.
Sean Peoples is the multimedia editor and a program associate at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program. Through documentaries, interviews, and podcasts Sean explores the intersection of conservation and health in the developing world. Sean is also a contributor to the award-winning blog, New Security Beat, where many of his multimedia products are showcased each week.
Prince will be discussing VOICES OF TRANSITION.
Bernadine (Bernie) Prince is Co-Founder, Co-Director and Treasurer/Secretary of the FRESHFARM Markets, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, dedicated to educating the public about food and farming issues, providing vital economic opportunities for farmers, and celebrating the Chesapeake Bay watershed region’s agricultural heritage and bounty. Since 2009, FRESHFARM Markets operates eight producer-only farmers’ markets, including four in the District of Columbia (Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom, H St, NE and Penn Quarter) and four in Maryland (Annapolis, Harbor East-Baltimore, St. Michaels and Silver Spring). Prince has also directed a local foods and gardening program (FoodPrints) at Watkins Elementary School (Ward 6) in Washington, D.C. Bernadine Prince is a graduate of Ohio University where in the 1970’s she organized a food cooperative that purchased directly from local farmers, a bakery and dairy. She spent two years doing graduate work in anthropology at Penn State University, spent a summer doing fieldwork at Monticello near Charlottesville, VA and directed field archaeology projects in Virginia.
Prosek will be discussing An Evening with JAMES PROSEK.
Artist, writer, naturalist, and Yale graduate James Prosek made his authorial debut at nineteen years of age with Trout: an Illustrated History (Alfred A. Knopf, 1996), which featured seventy of his watercolor paintings of the trout of North America. Prosek has written for The New York Times and National Geographic Magazine and won a Peabody Award in 2003 for his documentary about traveling through England in the footsteps of Izaak Walton, the seventeenth-century author of The Compleat Angler. He co-founded a conservation initiative called World Trout in 2004 with Yvon Chouinard, the owner of Patagonia clothing company, which raises money for coldwater habitat conservation through the sale of T-shirts featuring trout paintings. He is working on a book of paintings of Atlantic fishes for Rizzoli and a project about naming nature.
His book Eels: An Exploration, from New Zealand to the Sargasso, of the World's Most Amazing and Mysterious Fish, was published by HarperCollins in September 2010 and is the subject of a documentary for PBS series "Nature" to air in spring 2013. His latest book is a collection of paintings of 35 Atlantic fishes called Ocean Fishes (Rizzoli, 2012). In autumn of 2012 Prosek was awarded the Gold Medal for Distinction in Natural History Art from the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.
Prosek is a curatorial affiliate of the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale, and a member of the board of the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies. He is working on a book about how we name and order the natural world.