In the fall of 2007 and again in 2009, students of the Environmental Filmmaking Workshop created two-minute trailers that were presented at various times during the Tales from Planet Earth Film Festival. The directors were all novice student filmmakers with a wide range of backgrounds. They were guided by Prof. Gregg Mitman, Judith Helfand, Sarita Siegel (in 2007), and Megan Katz (in 2009).
Students in the 2009 class attended a "boot camp" during which they met with representatives from various local community organizations. The community partners described issues that were important to them, and the students used those perspectives as seeds to create the films that are listed below.
100% pure Wisconsin queso
How white is our milk? How American is our cheese – in fact, who actually makes it? More and more of Wisconsin's farmer Johns are working with farmer Juans. Come on a tour of "America's Dairyland" and meet today’s milk producers and cheese packers – the new faces of dairy production. Sí, the Wisconsin countryside is changing.
An End to Slim Pickings
The best kind of fruit is free.
Madison is known for the second largest farmers market in North America and a love of all things local. But how “local” is our food -- really? Meet a community of gleaners who call Madison home and know just where to find apples, pears, grapes, raspberries and even kiwis in backyards, vacant lots, university walkways and gardens across the city.
Getting Them Home
Commitment Comes Naturally.
They come with broken bodies, tattered wings, and little hope. Only commitment, passion, and loyalty will get them home. It’s a love story...with a wild streak.
Holy Land, WI
Some of Wisconsin's most sacred land is under farmer Frank’s feet.
Frank Shadwald is a 77-year-old retired farmer who owns several hundred acres of valuable farm land in the Lower Wisconsin River Valley. But to Frank, his land is worth far more than money. There are fifteen ancient Native American effigy mounds located on his property, an important site of Native American culture—past and present. For the past twenty years, Frank has worked to preserve them. But what will happen to the land when Frank is not here to protect it?
I Thought I Was Going to a Party
Life's no dream for kids without papers.
My name is Josh Rae, I’m 19-years-old and I’m making a short movie for my Environmental Documentary class. Being half-Mexican myself I was drawn to Centro Hispano and got myself invited to a party they were throwing for Latino teens in Madison. Basically — I wanted to get some experience working with a camera and shooting some interviews. What I didn’t expect,
was to learn about a bill called the Dream Act, a bill that could drastically change the lives of thousands of immigrant youth throughout the U.S. So much for my rocking party...
More Jam, More Jobs
One young woman's attempt to convince twelve sororities to buy local.
When Chi Omega sorority sister Jessica Halpern finds out that buying high quality, locally produced products can help create jobs for homeless people in her town, she takes matters into her own hands. Follow Jessica and her tray of crackers as she tries to change sorority consumption patterns, and the local commodity food chain, one sister at a time — by buying Porchlight jam.
Plastics One Throught Seven
How one woman's idea in North Freedom, Wisconsin changed an entire industry and made a whole nation look for a tiny little number.
Meet Millie Zantow, 86, resident of North Freedom, Wisconsin and an environmental hero — at one point she was the only person sorting plastic in America. Her very simple question & revolution led to years of tenacious advocacy that turned the heads of the EPA and led to a national recycling policy — a veritable plastics revolution.
Seven students and one professor started with the following question: What’s So Natural About Wisconsin? They ended with the eight two-minute trailers listed below (well, okay, one’s actually three minutes). Enjoy!
I’m In a Badger State of Mind
a totemic cult so big . . .
only the high priests of
Badgerdom truly understand
Everyone knows that Wisconsin is the “Badger State,” but
what is a Wisconsin badger really? This film explores
the cultural history of badgers and meets self-proclaimed
Wisconsin Badgers, including UW-Madison’s elite team
of “Bucky Badgers.” Why are badgers so important to
Wisconsin? Everyone has answers at the ready, but are
their feelings about this icon grounded in fact or fiction? In
history, nature or imagination?
the ultimate recycling machine
In a state where industrial dairies are replacing familyrun
farms, this dairy goliath in northeastern Wisconsin
is working to lessen the vast environmental impact of the
bovine lifecycle. In addition to significant fossil fuel usage,
a farm this size produces more than 150 million pounds
of manure each year or the weight equivalent of 60,000
Honda Civics. So... Holsum Dairy is striving to minimize
their environmental impact by recycling every part of the
cow. But the lingering question remains—what is the cost
of human interference in nature’s cycles?
birds never had it so good
Thanks to the efforts of farmers like Matthew Smith of Blue
Valley Gardens, heritage turkeys have come back to their
native Wisconsin home. With a little love and respect, Matt
Smith gives them the best 35 weeks of their life.
For When the Buffalo Return
a meditative look at prairie restoration by any means
All across Wisconsin the dreaded garlic mustard,
buckthorn and purple loosestrife are WANTED—DEAD
or ALIVE. They are being burned out, weed whacked
and chemically treated. On the other side of the beloved
prairie, native seeds and heritage flora are being harvested
and replanted. What time will it be when the prairie is
a story of one family choosing to live off-grid
John Ivanko and his wife, Lisa Kivirist, chose to leave the
hustle and bustle and intense consumerism of the big city
for a more energy efficient and conservation-oriented
lifestyle. They grow 70 percent of their own food, produce
their own biofuel that can be used in cars, tractors and
other diesel vehicles and generate enough electricity
through their solar and wind energy systems to power their
entire bed and breakfast and farming businesses. They
actually receive a check from their utility company for
producing a surplus! But for them, the money saved and
the ecological footprint reduced are not nearly as important
as the legacy of energy consciousness and environmental
awareness they’re leaving their son, Liam.
Freewheels and Freedom
a ride through Madison bike culture
Peering into the world of Freewheel, one will discover that
the ways people use and get their bicycles are as diverse as
the people themselves. Freewheel is a free bicycle repair
shop where anyone can build a free bike. After three hours
of volunteering in the shop and helping others to build free
bicycles, you get to build your own bike and ride off—
FREE. A meditation (mostly on wheels) into how Madison
is striving to make bicycling an easy alternative to motor
transportation for all people, no matter their income level.
Madison’s people of the bicycle agree: “winter, summer,
rain or shine,” bicycling provides a sense of freedom and is
just more fun!
(or) "How to run your farm from 500 miles away"
Here in the middle of “America’s Dairyland” the fields
of corn are golden brown, sun dapples the red barns
and peaceful cows dot the countryside. City folks like to
romanticize idyllic side-of-the-road notions of life on the
farm; but here’s a dairy farmer who loves his life ... and has
a lot more to talk about than milk yield.
the tradition, the fish, the lakes... the ocean?
From the kitchens of one of Madison’s favorite Fridaynight
spots to the hallowed halls of the University, Fish
Fry traces the origins, meanings, and practices behind
this state custom, showing how a Wisconsin phenomenon
is connected to places and activities beyond the state’s
borders or even the shores of the Great Lakes. Hold fast to
your fork and discover how these pan-aquatic connections
do not diminish the Wisconsin-ness of the fish fry or its