Missoula, MT (Feb. 6, 2023) — The Redford Center and IF/Then Shorts, announced today the finalists for their IF/Then x The Redford Center Nature Connection Pitch partnership. Following a competitive open call for short documentary films focusing on humanity’s connection with nature, five finalists were selected. The five film teams will come together as a cohort to participate in career-building opportunities at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, including a workshop focused on impact-driven storytelling, tailored pitch training, and festival activations. An esteemed panel of film industry luminaries and environmental experts will provide feedback to the finalists at an in-person pitch event at Big Sky on February 24, 2023. The projects will receive a combined $25,000 in production grants, along with mentorship, distribution/festival consultation, and impact strategy support.
Marking the continuation of the partnership between IF/Then Shorts (an initiative of Field of Vision) and The Redford Center after 2021’s Nature Access Pitch at DOC NYC, the IF/Then x The Redford Center Nature Connection Pitch celebrates stories highlighting the vast benefits that time outdoors can contribute to individual, community, and environmental health.
The five films provide 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. With an emphasis on Black, Indigenous, People of Color, LGBTQIA+, immigrant, and undocumented communities, these films also highlight the difficult yet resilient ways these communities navigate the residual impacts of forced displacement, generational trauma, and inequity and injustice, and the unparalleled benefits of continued connection (and reconnection) with the natural world.
“The films submitted for this pitch program speak to humanity’s innate need for nature connection—across all ages, cultures, and countries—and the barriers and problematic legacies standing in the way of equitable access to nature for all,” said Redford Center Executive Director, Jill Tidman. “Inside these stories, which help us understand humanity’s proximity to nature—or lack thereof, we are offered a magnified look at many other pressing societal issues, and reminded of the interconnectedness of it all.”
“What a joy it is to continue in partnership with our esteemed colleagues at The Redford Center in support of these five stellar projects.” said IF/Then Co-Director Merrill Sterritt. “Fostering a non-competitive atmosphere to develop not only the work but connections in their creative community is a privilege and IF/Then Shorts is thrilled for the opportunity to support these filmmakers in their creative and career development while they gain invaluable knowledge from The Redford Center on impact-oriented storytelling.”
The winner of 2021’s inaugural partnership between The Redford Center and IF/Then Shorts, BETWEEN EARTH & SKY, directed by Andrew Nadkarni will have its world premiere in competition at Big Sky, an Academy-qualifying film festival.
IF/Then x The Redford Center Nature Connection Pitch Finalists
Directors: Jose Jesus Zaragoza and Max Maldonado
BLACK SNOW investigates environmental racism through the practice of sugarcane burning in the Florida Everglades. Pre-harvest burnings are being phased out around the world but Big Sugar says doing so would be the beginning of the end of the sugar industry in America. Health experts believe the smoke causes serious respiratory issues for residents of the low-income communities of the Glades. The battle has been ongoing and contentious.
Directors: Alyson Sperry and Emily Cohen
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.
IF THESE STONES COULD TALK
Director: Hana Elias, Producer: Anakha Arikara, Writer/Researcher: Zane Elias
After 50 years of nomadic living, Nassib returns to his hometown in the north of Israel to build the home he hopes to retire in. Capturing everyday relations to land like gardening, seeding, and walking, IF THESE STONES COULD TALK is a meditation on return.
KANENON:WE – Original Seeds
Director: Katsitsionnni Fox, Producer: Katja Esson
KANENON:WE 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
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.
About the IF/Then x The Redford Center Nature Connection Pitch
The IF/Then x The Redford Center Nature Connection Pitch open call took place between August 23rd and October 9th 2022, and was open to original, stand-alone documentary shorts in production. Each filmmaker will pitch their submission to an esteemed panel of industry leaders, filmmakers, and environmental experts at a Big Sky Documentary Film Festival pitch event on February 24, 2022. Each project will receive a $5,000 production grant and mentorship from IF/Then and The Redford Center that includes production support, an impact-driven storytelling workshop, pitch training, creative feedback, distribution consultations, and festival strategy.
The pitch was open to individuals living and working in the United States, with an emphasis on stories and storytellers representing communities most impacted by environmental injustice and barriers to nature access, including Black, Indigenous, people of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, recent immigrants, undocumented people, people with disabilities, and women. Submissions were required in the form of character-driven, place-based, community-inspired, short-form storytelling that showcases immediate solutions to cope with humanity’s disconnection with the outdoors.
For more information, please visit fieldofvision.org/redford2023.
Founded in 2016 with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, IF/Then Shorts is a fund and mentorship program at Field of Vision that supports storytellers in breaking barriers to access, exposure, and sustainability in the media landscape. IF/Then works with creators who experience inequity based on factors such as race, gender, class, sexuality, ability, ethnicity, age, citizenship, and/or geography. IF/Then has supported 85+ U.S. and international short documentary films, many of which have achieved prestigious festival premieres, awards, and extensive media broadcasts on The New York Times Op-Docs, Al Jazeera English, PBS Reel South, POV Shorts, Cathay Pacific Airlines, Netflix, and more. In addition to The Redford Center, IF/Then receives funding from the MacArthur Foundation, Kalliopeia Foundation, and Hulu, and has secured philanthropic support from the Surdna Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, ESPN Films, RYOT Films, and other esteemed institutions in its seven-year history.
Field of Vision is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
ABOUT THE REDFORD CENTER:
Co-founded in 2005 by Robert Redford and his son James Redford, The Redford Center is a nonprofit organization that advances environmental solutions through the power of stories that move. Over the years, The Redford Center has produced three award-winning feature documentaries and more than 40 short films, supported more than 150 film and media projects with grants and other services, inspired the creation of more than 550 student films, and dispersed more than $10 million to fiscally sponsored projects. Redford Center films and impact campaigns have halted the construction of dirty coal plants, restored the Colorado River Delta, reconnected people to nature, and helped accelerate the clean energy revolution and clean transportation solutions in communities across America. For more information, visit redfordcenter.org.
ABOUT BIG SKY DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL:
Now entering its 20th year, the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival is the premier venue for non-fiction film in the American West. Big Sky offers an ideal setting for filmmakers to premiere new work and develop lasting relationships with fellow filmmakers and industry. The festival draws an audience of 20,000 and film entries from every corner of the globe to a uniquely intimate mountain town setting with a local Montana flavor. A hybrid festival, audiences can enjoy the festival program in Big Sky’s virtual cinema from nearly anywhere in the world. Selected for 5 years running by MovieMaker Magazine’s 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee, BSDFF is a top-100 rated festival on FilmFreeway and is an Academy Award-qualifying festival for short documentaries. The annual 10-day event takes place each February in downtown Missoula, Montana.