Attending Filmmakers & Special Guests

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.

Sam Abell

Abell will be discussing An Evening with Sam Abell

Sam Abell learned photography from his father at their home in Sylvania, Ohio, where he was born on February 19th, 1945. He graduated in 1969 from the University of Kentucky in Lexington with a B.A.Abell has worked with the National Geographic Society since 1970 and has photographed more than 20 articles on various cultural and wilderness subjects. He has also lectured on photography and exhibited his images to audiences throughout the world.

In 1990, Eastman Kodak published a retrospective monograph of his photographs titled Stay This Moment: The Photographs of Sam Abell. A companion exhibit of his work was shown at New York City’s International Center of Photography in November of that year.

Abell’s book credits include Contemplative Gardens, The Inward Garden: Creating a Place of Beauty and Meaning, Australia: Journey Through a Timeless Land, and Seeing Gardens. In 1998 he collaborated with author Stephen Ambrose on Lewis & Clark: Voyage of Discovery and again in 2002 on The Mississippi: River of History.

That same year, he worked with author Leah Bendavid-Val to produce a retrospective of his life and work titled Sam Abell: The Photographic Life. Two additional book projects, Four Stories and The Life of a Photographer, are scheduled for publication in October 2007 and October 2008, respectively.Sam Abell lives in Albemarle County, Virginia, with his wife Denise.

Claudine AndrГ©

André will be discussing BENY, BACK TO THE WILD

Claudine André, (born 6 November 1946 in La Hestre, Hainaut Province, Belgium), is a Belgian conservationist. She founded Lola ya bonobo in 1994, which is a bonobo sanctuary, just south of Kinshasa, at Mont Ngafula, in the Lukaya Valley, Democratic Republic of Congo. The aim of the sanctuary is to collect young bonobos, most having been orphaned due to the actions of poachers, and eventually reintroduce them into a forest reserve. During the same year, Claudine André started the Friends of Animals in the Congo, of which she is still president.

Johannah Barry


Johannah E. Barry is President of Galapagos Conservancy, the only US based institution exclusively focused on supporting biodiversity conservation in the Galapagos Islands. Galapagos Conservancy’s goal is the long-term ecological integrity of Galapagos and its unique marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Galapagos Conservancy is part of an international network of the Friends of Galapagos Organizations. These international chapters unite global efforts to address the most urgent needs of Galapagos and its key institutions. 

Ms. Barry’s background includes over twenty five years of institutional advancement and organizational development. Ms. Barry has held senior fundraising positions with the World Conservation Union (US), The Wilderness Society, Resources for the Future and served as consultant to the Weyerhaeuser Company Foundation, Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture, and the Audubon Naturalist Society. Ms. Barry holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English from Washington State University and the University of Virginia, respectively. 

Hedrick Belin

Belin will be discussing The Endangered Rivers Program.

Hedrick joined the Conservancy in January, 2007. Charged with directing the Conservancy as it meets the myriad of challenges facing the Potomac River, he will guide the Conservancy through its next phase of growth and help expand our important conservation work throughout the watershed. Hedrick will provide the leadership to actively protect water quality, preserve scenic beauty, and encourage responsible recreation in the Potomac River watershed. He comes to the Conservancy with over 15 years of nonprofit fundraising and leadership experience, most recently as Vice President of the Metropolitan Group, a strategic communication and resource development consulting firm.

Before joining the Metropolitan Group, Hedrick worked for several conservation groups, including the National Park Foundation, Izaak Walton League of America, and the League of Conservation Voters. In addition to his extensive fundraising and management expertise, Hedrick has experience mobilizing grassroots advocates, formulating public policy, partnering with public agencies and developing conservation programs. Hedrick received his bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University, and his master’s in public administration from George Washington University. He lives with his wife and two children in Silver Spring, Maryland. 

Christine Bird

Bird will be discussing Ocean Adventures with "JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD"

Christine credits friends from medical school for the path towards becoming a part of the Jonathan Bird’s Blue World team. Over dinner one night they convinced her to learn to scuba dive. So, at the end of her first year of medical school, she not only passed her classes but got certified to scuba dive. She soon joined a local dive club and learned a great deal from the members about the underwater world. There she also met Jonathan and began her next adventure in diving and an apprenticeship in underwater photography and filmmaking. One of her favorite dives is the Airplane Graveyard in Kwajalein Atoll which she first visited on a film project with Jonathan in 2001.

Christine, a member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame, is a family medicine physician by training, working at a community health center in Massachusetts. She has filled many roles with Oceanic Research Group and Jonathan Bird Productions, working as Production Assistant, Production Manager and Researcher on several films. She was the Production Manager for Sharks: Deep Trouble for National Geographic Channel. As the Executive Producer of Jonathan Bird’s Blue World, Christine is in charge of funding.

Jonathan Bird

Bird will be discussing Ocean Adventures with "JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD"

Jonathan fell in love with the ocean in the 1980s when he learned to dive in college. Already an avid photographer, he combined scuba diving and photography to create what would eventually become not only his passion, but his profession. Although Jonathan has had a few close calls with dangerous animals like sharks, his worst underwater injuries have come from pointy sea urchins and crown-of-thorn sea stars. He was once head-butted by an angry dolphin. None of these things have dampened his enthusiasm for the excitement of underwater exploration.

Jonathan is an Emmy Award-winning underwater cinematographer and producer, president of the non-profit organization Oceanic Research Group as well as a widely published author, award-winning assignment cinematographer, photographer and speaker. He is the author of 7 books, director of over 20 films and a member of the Wyland Ocean Artist Society.

Allie Bombach

Bombach will be discussing JULIO SOLIS, A MOVESHAKE STORY

Founding her production company Red Reel in 2009, Allie is an award winning documentary filmmaker who lives on the road. She is the producer and director of MoveShake, a film series that tells the personal stories of movers and shakers creating positive change for environmental or social issues. Believing in the power of storytelling, she documents these people’s experiences and insights with the intention of shifting perspectives and igniting change.

Rich Bonczek

Bonczek will be discussing VISION: THE PORTSFUTURE PROJECT.

Rich has worked for the Department of Energy’s Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office located in Lexington, Kentucky since 2006. However, his involvement with the Portsmouth and Paducah sites, where uranium enrichment occurred or is occurring through gaseous diffusion, respectively, goes back to the beginning of the environmental restoration activities at the sites in 1991. At that time, he began work as a Risk Assessment Team Leader for Martin Marietta (DOE’s Prime Contractor for operations and maintenance for the two sites at that time). Currently, for the Department, he serves as a senior technical advisor for the environmental management program and is heavily involved in strategic planning of the cleanup activities. He manages risk assessment activities at both sites and is a senior reviewer of project documents. Additionally, he is the Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office representative to the Department’s Environmental Management Low-Level Waste Disposal Facility Review Group (LFRG) and liaison to the Department’s Environmental Management Office of Groundwater and Soil Remediation. Finally, he is the Contract Officer Representative for grants with Ohio University and the University of Kentucky.

Rich has performed or managed risk assessments for over 100 areas located at multiple sites in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, New York, and South Carolina. He is also the author or co-author of over 40 technical papers on risk assessment and risk management. He has taught courses in risk and health assessment for state and federal employees, including courses for graduate credit in human health risk assessment at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Rich has BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Animal Science (emphasis on genetics and animal breeding with minors in applied statistics and animal physiology) from Purdue University and the University of Minnesota. Post-doctoral research was completed with the Agricultural Research Service of the Department of Agriculture in the late 1980’s. 

Eve Bratman

Bratman will be introducing SHARK LOVES THE AMAZON

Eve Bratman is an assistant professor with the International Development Program at SIS. Dr. Bratman’s research involves sustainable development politics in the Brazilian Amazon. Her major research projects focus on the links between environmental policy, agriculture, and human rights in Brazil and beyond. Dr. Bratman also has a keen interest in urban politics and development issues closer to home, including in Washington DC.

Dr. Bratman holds a Ph.D. from American University’s School of International Service (2009). She was a Fulbright Scholar in Brazil (2007) and holds a Certificate in Human Rights from the Washington College of Law (2004).

Kathy Brew


Kathy Brew’s experience spans experimental work to independent documentaries and public television productions. She has worked for public television on both the west and east coasts in the U.S. –WNET/Channel Thirteen in NYC and KQED/Channel 9 in San Francisco. Ms. Brew has worked over the years with several other artists/producers on a range of media projects, including: Regret to Inform, a documentary about widows of the Vietnam War that won awards at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival and the Independent Feature Project’s American Spirit Awards, as well as having been nominated for a 1999 Oscar in the documentary category; Rabbit in the Moon, a documentary about Japanese-American internment during World War II, another award-winning film at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival, which aired on POV in 1999 and won a national Emmy; several commissioned projects for ZDF-Arte Television (in Germany) with artists Lynn Hershman and Gustav Hamos. Her own independent video work,Mixed Messages, examines gender stereotyping in popular culture and received numerous awards at film and video festivals.

Jack Byrne

Byrne will be introducing River Shorts

Jack Byrne is a biologist, earned a BS in biology and a Masters in environmental law and policy, became an environmental and social entrepreneur, then an educator, and currently works as Director of Sustainability Integration at Middlebury College to make sustainability leadership more visible, effective and common in the culture of the college. He also coordinates Middlebury’s effort to achieve carbon neutrality by 2016.

He is a co-founder of the Foundation for Our Future. He also founded and directed the River Watch Network. He recently served as Green Campus Leader for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Commission on Education and Communication. He has also served as consultant to a variety of corporate, governmental and non-governmental organizations on a variety of sustainability and environmentally related issues.

Jack’s career has been in the non-governmental sector starting and developing organizations that support local, national and international initiatives in: soil and water conservation; watershed health; citizen science; building capacity to integrate sustainability knowledge and skills in public schools, corporations and non-profit organizations. He has led the development of learning networks and communities on a variety of topics.

"As we face a global crisis, engaging the public through environmental filmmaking has become not just a side show, but a matter of survival." – Ben Hillman

© 2013 Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital

Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital