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Wildscreen Festival 2020

Center for Environmental Filmmaking News October '20
By Maggie Burnette Stogner
8 October 2020

In the midst of these chaotic, uncertain times, there is one clear path forward: creating caring communities, building resilience and hope together, and embracing solutions that work for everyone in order to forge a path for a better future.

At the virtual 2020 Jackson Wild Summit this past week, filmmakers, conservationists, impact strategists, and distributors from around the world converged to set a course for equitable, high impact media production and distribution.

Our film “Unbreathable - The Fight For Healthy Air” continues to be a catalyst for environmental justice and community engagement. We can make a significant difference if we pull together and work toward a great good. Sadly, we can no longer take for granted environmental protections, the sanctity of our National Parks, and the logical move to clean energy. Please join us in being sure to exercise your right to vote and encourage others to do the same. So much is at stake.

Center for Environmental Filmmaking

Upcoming Events

Election Day - Plan Your Vote

Eligible voters are more likely to cast a ballot if they make a plan to vote. What’s your plan? Our nation faces unprecedented times in the midst of a global pandemic, a battle for human rights, environmental conservation, and social justice. This New York Times resource page provides resources for teaching and learning about the upcoming 2020 election. The recently released environmental film, “Purple Mountains,” follows professional snowboarder and mountaineer Jeremy Jones, as he searches for common ground amongst voters. This film is a great resource for how to have a bipartisan conversation.

EcoComedy Awards

Mark your calendars! The EcoComedy video competition is an annual event hosted by CEF in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and Clean Air Partners, and is a signature event with the DC Environmental Film Festival. Due to Covid-19, DC-EFF was moved online and the EcoComedy night was postponed. CEF will host the awards ceremony for these comedic environmental short films on November 17, time to be determined. The theme for this year’s competition was “Clean Air and Clean Water.” Previous winners can be seen here.

Jackson Wild Virtual Summit 2020 Highlights

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CEF faculty, students, and alum had a strong presence at the 2020 Jackson Wild Summit this year. Two alum were fellows in the highly competitive Jackson Wild Media Lab. AU/CEF graduate Robert Boyd is currently a post-grad fellow with AU’s Investigative Reporting Workshop and hopes to use his skills in filmmaking to create documentaries that highlight the intersection between human society and microscopic life, ranging from insects to viruses.
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AU alumna Katie Bryden is the senior digital producer at Conservation International and focuses on a variety of conservation impact projects, spanning work across governments and public audiences. Her participatory filmmaking approach is breaking new ground.

Alum Sylvia Johnson’s film, “Mermaids Against Plastic,” won the Best Changing Planet Film - Short Form category at the awards summit. This short film follows an incredible woman in her quest to protect the ocean she loves from marine plastic pollution.

CEF Executive Director Maggie Burnette Stogner interviewed the finalists for the Impact Campaign Award for three outstanding films: “The Elephant Queen,” “Sea of Shadows,” and “Peng Yu Sai” for the Impact Campaign Case Studies program. She was a panelist for the live program: “Action Coalition Forum: Impact Campaign Development,” a lively discussion on the challenges and opportunities to achieving media impact.

Maggie rolled out her latest research project, an extensive look at how we can change hearts, minds, behaviors, and create visionary change through media: “Impact Media Report: Creative, Collaborative, and Outreach Strategies for Nature, Environmental, and Science Films” Funded by HHMI/Tangled Bank Studios, this research launches a conversation for innovative, holistic, and equitable media models. Special thanks to Marjee Chmiel at HHMI and to CEF graduate assistant researchers and co-authors Nicole Wackerly and Carlos Macher, as well as to report designer Kylos Brannon. We encourage you to contact us with your feedback.
Impact Media Report: Creative, Collaborative, and Outreach Strategies for Nature, Environmental, and Science Films

CEF Associate Director Larry Engel was a panelist for the live program “Action Coalition Forum: Stay Healthy, Be Green.” The forum highlighted existing industry trends and a variety of international practices for greening production to create shared standards specific to documentary and nature filmmaking with opportunities for incentivized collaboration with institutions and associations affiliated with media production and distribution. Larry is a leading instructor for the CEF program Classroom in the Wild and authored the “Code of Best Practices in Sustainable Filmmaking,” a guide written to ensure filmmakers are adopting pro-environmental practices throughout their production process.

Chesapeake Film Festival Recognition


UNBREATHABLE - Trailer

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“Unbreathable: The Fight for Healthy Air” won Best Environmental Feature in the Chesapeake Film Festival. The virtual festival took place virtually from October 1 - 4.

This film, directed by CEF director Maggie Stogner, addresses access to clean air for everyone in partnership with the American Lung Association and AU’s Center for Environmental Policy. The Clean Air for All symposium was held on September 29, recognizing the accomplishments of the Clean Air Act. Keep up to date with upcoming screenings and events at www.unbreathable.org.

Experiential Learning through CEF

All Year, All Weather


All Year All Weather: Early Outdoor Education

The early years of a child’s life are formative and impactful. The Dunn sisters in Brevard, NC know this and have combined their backgrounds in experiential education to provide an early education collective near Pisgah National Forest. CEF graduate student Jess Wiegandt spent time with the program filming the unique learning atmosphere and has released her short film, “All Year, All Weather: Early Outdoor Education,” on Vimeo.

Classroom in the Wild 2021

Classroom in the Wild (CITW) is a week-long intensive film program hosted through CEF which takes place over spring break. CITW 2021 will take place March 6-13 and will be based on the Chesapeake Bay. This program is open to beginners and experienced filmmakers who are passionate about the outdoors and communicating environmental, natural history, and conservation subjects. Applications are due by November 1 and can be found here.
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Palmer Scholarship Recipients 2020

Each year, students in the environmental filmmaking program are awarded the opportunity to apply for the Palmer Scholarship, a fund established by CEF founder Chris Palmer and his wife Gail Shearer. The scholarship honors Palmer’s parents. The 2020 scholarship recipients are graduate students Jess Wiegandt, Marissa Woods, and Jessica Marcy. All three women are pursuing their MFA in Film and Media Arts. Each student offers a wide variety of experience, from expedition leadership to specializing in motion graphics. Funding for students is an essential part of the Center, and allows for students to continue projects that elevate environmental stories of impact. Learn more about donating to support CEF here.

CEF Welcomes New Associate Director

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Dr. Krzysztof Piertroszek has joined the CEF team as an associate director. CEF has been collaborating with Krzysztof on a variety of projects. Krzysztof is the founding director of Immersive Designs, Experiences, Applications, and Stories Lab (IDEAS Lab) and teaches immersive filmmaking and game development courses in AU’s Game Lab. Krzysztof is an award-winning filmmaker, has developed several VR video games, and has published over 40 peer-reviewed research papers. CEF is excited to have him join the team and looks forward to the collaborative projects to come!

New Resources and Deadlines

Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellowship

The Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellowship is a component of the Fulbright US Student Program and provides opportunities for selected Fulbright US Student/Study Research grantees to participate in an academic year of storytelling on a globally significant theme. Utilizing a variety of storytelling media, Storytellers have the opportunity to share their stories, and the stories of those they meet, through National Geographic and social media platforms. The application is due Tuesday, October 13, 2020 at 5pm ET.

Ford Foundation Release of “Beyond Inclusion” Resource

The Ford Foundation is dedicated to promoting international cooperation and strengthening democratic values to achieve reduction in poverty and injustice worldwide. The foundation’s new research study, “Beyond Inclusion: The Critical Role of People of Color in the US Documentary Ecosystem,” explores how documentary film is used by artists and advocates to advance social change, and how individuals within communities often subject to inequality are used by the industry. The report provides a critical overview of the work and influence of nonfiction organizations led by and serving People of Color in the US. “Beyond Inclusion” calls for a generational investment in POC documentary infrastructure in order to amplify the authorship, analysis, and leadership of communities of color, to advance documentary as a medium of social change, and to build a more inclusive and ethically-grounded sector.

Her Wild Vision Initiative

A new initiative launched with a focus on uplifting female-identifying photographers, filmmakers, and conservationists worldwide. The directory built through this initiative focuses on professionals working specifically in editorial and other storytelling markets covering issues of conservation, natural sciences, and the environment. The directory is keyword searchable, making finding an underwater photographer located in Southeast Asia or a drone operator in Kenya efficient. Learn more about Her Wild Vision Initiative here.

Center for Media and Social Impact Book Release

Executive Director for CMSI Caty Chattoo recently launched her book “Story Movements: How Documentaries Empower People and Inspire Social Change,” discussing the function of documentary in democracy with stories of motivations behind major documentary films. The Center for Media and Social Impact at American University is an innovation lab and research center that creates, studies, and showcases media for social impact. CMSI produces resources for the field and academic research, convenes conferences and events, and works collaboratively to understand and design media that matter. More information about Chattoo’s recent book and other publications can be found here.

For more information, contact Maggie Burnette Stogner at stogner@american.edu.

Visit our website, www.environmentalfilm.org

Check out our latest announcements by following CEF on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

If you missed it, watch:


50 Years of Earth Day

Earth Day has spread to a global initiative of caring for the planet. In the past 50 years, we have seen more advocacy and action taken to protect our planet and resources, but there is still work to be done. Join us as we dive into the 50 years of Earth Day and what action still needs to be taken as we face rising temperatures, changing ecosystems, and limited resources.

Produced by the Center for Environmental Filmmaking
Directed by Beth Ebisch, Grace Eggleston, and Lia Nydes
Narrated by Grace Eggleston

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