Thursday, August 21, 2014

"Grasslands": one hour doc premieres August 23 on Oasis HD

Screen capture from the official website for "Grasslands" the documentary

When I began writing in this space five years ago, I decided my goal was to do my part to introduce people to the beauty and grandeur of native prairie. Sometimes that has meant showing photos of grassland birds and other creatures, and sometimes it has meant speaking out against development and policy that threatens their world.

Writing and photos of this kind, amplified by social media, will reach a certain audience, but to take the next step you need something that moves, sings, and shimmers with a radiance closer to the life imperiled by our ignorance. So when Ian Toews of 291 Film Company asked me last year to participate in his new HD documentary on grassland, I was more than happy to help.

Now, after many hours in the field with Ian and his assistant Jason Britski, the film, titled simply Grasslands, is premiering on Oasis HD. It will air for the first time this Saturday, August 23rd at 10 pm ET (that will be 8 pm here in the centre of the universe). Later this fall it will air again on City TV.

The trailer for the film (below) will give you an idea of how Ian uses a camera. He has a light touch and is especially good at letting landscape speak for itself. As always with grassland matters, the story is in a minor key, but the sights, colours, and sounds recruit our senses, encouraging us to speak and act on behalf of those whose voices are not heard in boardrooms and legislatures.

Here is a blurb on the film from its website, to be launched later this week:

“Grasslands examines the unique natural habitat of the mixed-grass prairie through four seasons from the perspectives of the ranchers, conservationists, and aboriginal people who understand it best and live by preserving it. It is guided by a powerful metaphor / symbol: The re-discovered wallows of the re-introduced bison.”

The film company has also posted four "webisodes", additional stories on the people featured in the film. 
Here is one where I get to talk a bit about birds:

So, if you are not out on real grassland on Saturday night, or you have a PVR you can record with, see if you can watch this film and then ask yourself what you can do to help conserve and restore our native prairie places here and across the Great Plains.

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