Supporting short films centered around restoring and strengthening humanity’s relationship with nature.
IF/Then Shorts and The Redford Center put out a call for filmmakers to share their short documentary works-in-progress focusing on connecting or reconnecting with nature for a pitch and professional development workshop series at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival 2023. The opportunity celebrates storytellers and stories that spotlight the physical, mental, spiritual, social, and planetary benefits of restoring and strengthening humanity’s relationship with the natural world. We invited projects poised to help attain the vast benefits that time outdoors can contribute to individual, community, and environmental health.
As social culture moves increasingly online, society and technology have placed humankind on a path to becoming an indoor species. Today, we spend over 90% of our time indoors. This growing disconnection from nature negatively affects us in significant ways — from health problems exacerbated by nature deprivation to systemic inequities reinforced when communities lack access to the outdoors.
This call for entries sought impactful stories of leaders, activists, and communities paving the way for creative and equitable solutions that reconnect individuals and communities with nature and the outdoors. Storytellers have a unique and important role to play in driving the culture change necessary to strengthen our care and respect for the natural world and champion efforts to break down systemic and individual barriers to access.
With this project, IF/Then and The Redford Center aim to increase representation of communities impacted most by environmental degradation and injustice and bring underrepresented and historically excluded communities and voices to the forefront.
An evolution and expansion on last year’s Nature Access Pitch partnership between IF/Then Shorts and The Redford Center, this opportunity focuses on supporting filmmakers’ career development and building skills to incorporate impact into storytelling practice.
The opportunity called for original stand-alone short documentaries in production (no more than 30 minutes) that explore solutions-based environmental stories centered around restoring humanity’s connection with nature and the outdoors.
Five finalists were selected to attend a live, in-person multi-day workshop and pitch at Big Sky Film Festival in Missoula, Montana, schedule for February 17-26, 2023.
Selected participants receive a workshop on issue-oriented, impact driven filmmaking from The Redford Center, a tailored pitch training session hosted by IF/Then Shorts, and will present their projects to a roundtable of invested participants in both the non-fiction and environmental activism space. Projects will have 7 minutes to pitch, followed by feedback and questions from a panel made up of industry leaders, filmmakers, and environmental experts. Each selected project will also receive a non-recoupable grant of $5,000 from The Redford Center to support the development and production of their project.
Submissions were in the form of character-driven, place-based, community-inspired, short-form storytelling centered around restoring and strengthening humanity’s relationship with nature, and the leaders, communities and cultures leading this charge.
This opportunity was open to individuals living and working in the US, prioritizing stories and filmmakers representing the communities often most impacted by environmental problems and the challenges of outdoor access, which includes Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQIA+ people, immigrants, undocumented people, people with disabilities, and/or women.
Suggested stories related to this theme may include but are not limited to:
● The physical, mental, spiritual, and social impacts of humanity’s growing disconnection from the natural world.
● The vast benefits that time outdoors can contribute to individual, community, and environmental health.
● Leaders, activists, and communities paving the way for creative solutions that reconnect individuals and communities with nature and the outdoors.
● An equitable, inclusive, and diverse environmental movement that brings underrepresented and historically excluded communities and voices to the forefront.
● Breaking down barriers of access to nature for historically excluded and marginalized communities, highlighting the complex social, racial, economic, and health inequities related to issues of nature access.
● Cultural practices that honor traditional and ancestral knowledge which reframe our relationship to nature.
● Current decolonization practices around land rights and histories that center Indigenous perspectives.
● Raising awareness around and addressing systemic bias, discrimination, and injustice in environmental policy.
In addition to being on theme, eligible projects must meet the following criteria:
● Be an original short documentary with a final duration of 10-30 minutes
● Be factually accurate, follow best practices in documentary ethics, and be designed for a U.S. audience
● Be accountable to and authentically represent the people and places featured in the film
● Be driven by (a) compelling character(s), with access to the character(s) secured
● Be presented in English or subtitled in English
● Have no prior distribution attached
Co-Directors: Max Maldonado and Jose Jesus Zaragoza
Location: West Palm Beach, Florida, USA
BLACK SNOW is a documentary film about environmental racism that focuses on the practice of sugarcane burning in the Florida Everglades. As fires from sugarcane burning in the Florida Everglades blanket low-income communities, residents unite to wage a courageous battle against the powerful sugar industry, politicians, and the state itself. Black Snow is a poignant exploration of strength, resilience, and the pursuit of environmental equality.
Co-Directors: Alyson Spery, Emily Cohen
Locations: Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA and Tlaxcala, Mexico
It took twenty years for Miriam Morillion to venture into the wilds of Jackson Hole, Wyoming where she lives. Determined not to let the pandemic isolate her, Miriam invited a few friends to go on a hike. Week after week, they hiked and thus formed a Spanish-speaking hiking group, CAMINA CONMIGO (WALK WITH ME). The group continues to grow, as does their connection to the natural world, to each other, and to themselves.
Director: Hana Elias, Producer: Anakha Arikara, Writer & Researcher: Zane Elias
Locations: Israel and New York City, New York, USA
After 50 years of nomadic living, Nassib returns to his hometown to build a house for his family. As the family seeks to understand their heritage by tending to the land, they confront their estrangement from the country as Palestinian citizens of Israel. Planting, gardening, and picking, If These Stones Could Talk, is a meditation on return.
Director: Katsitsionnni Fox, Producer: Katja Esson
Locations: 3 Haudenosaunee Territories - Akwesasne in Northern New York, Onondaga in Central New York and Oneida, Wisconsin, USA
The film follows three Indigenous women from three different Native Communities as they reclaim their ancient role as seed keepers, regenerating, protecting and rematriating sacred and endangered heirloom seeds for the future generations.
Director: Chihiro Wimbush, Co-Creator & Lead Participant: Arnold Trevino
Location: Central Valley, California, USA
After 25 years behind bars, Arnold Trevino takes recently incarcerated individuals out into the wilderness, where he has found solace, to connect with a natural world they have never had access to. Arnold brings a new group out to the Tule River Reservation, where his partner Donna lives, for a long weekend exploring the Sequoia National Forest and connecting with their inner selves, to discover what is precious and what can be released.
August 23, 2022 - Call for submissions opens.
October 9, 2022 - Call for submissions closes at 11:59 PM PT.
Early January 2023 - All applicants notified of status, finalists announced.
February 17-26, 2023 - Big Sky Film Festival
February 23, 2023 - In-person workshops at Big Sky
February 24, 2023 - Nature Connection Pitch
Application closed on October 9, 2022 (11:59 PM PT).
Please direct any questions regarding this program to email@example.com.
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