Wild, Wonderful, Endangered West Virginia

Download press release here: WV Block PR

ACFF 2015 Opens with WV-Centered Films

The 13th annual American Conservation Film Festival opens on Friday, October 23, 2015, with a block dedicated to some of the most pressing issues facing West Virginia’s residents, environment, and economy. Environmental and economic degradation and compromised water quality are not new threats in West Virginia, but the three films featured in this block cast new light and personal perspectives on them.

Blood on the Mountain

Mari-Lynn Evans returns to ACFF for the third time; this time with her new film Blood on the Mountain, a searing investigation into the economic and environmental injustices that have resulted from industrial control in West Virginia. Evans’ first two documentaries, Coal Country and The Appalachians: America’s First and Last Frontier were enthusiastically received by large audiences at past ACF Festivals and Blood on the Mountain has been filling large venues in and outside of West Virginia since its release last year. The film is co-directed by Jordan Freeman and features Shepherdstown attorney Davitt McAteer, a former federal mine safety chief and assistant secretary for the Mine Safety and Health Administration in the U.S. Department of Labor.

“Blood on the Mountain tells the honest history of West Virginia, the human struggle that has always ranged between repression and resistance — courageous coal miners fighting bloody battles for union representation and fair wages and work conditions, fighting battles between themselves and, ultimately, waging a war on the mountains and communities themselves as strip miners. It’s a legacy of a century-long war of attrition by revolving coal companies to break down and divide the people, their communities, and their land,” says Evans.

Thanks to its historical perspective, the film keeps hope alive in the coalfields, reminding viewers of the inspiring continuum of the Blair Mountain labor uprising in 1921, the victory of Miners for Democracy and Black Lung legislation, and today’s fearless campaigns against mountaintop-removal mining.

Immediately following the film, screening at 6:30pm October 23 at the Byrd Center for Legislative Studies o
n the Shepherd University campus, will be a brief Q and A discussion with the filmmakers, as well as Mary Anne Hitt , Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign and Davitt McAteer.Elk River Blues

The second film of this West Virginia block is Elk River Blues, inspired by the MCHM chemical spill into the Elk River in January 2014. The spill quickly overwhelmed the local distribution system and left 300,000 residents without water. Filmmaker and producer Mike Youngren jumped on the story and captured much of the immediate aftermath to create this powerful story of systemic failure that “was the inevitable consequence of a culture of lax regulation and legislative oversight,” according to WV Rivers Coalition executive director Angie Rosser.

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A 2-minute short film called Poisoned: WV Water Crisis, profiling one family’s story of how the chemical spill affected them, closes out the block.

Immediately following the films, the filmmakers and special guests will be available for a second Q and A session. Everyone is then invited to Domestic bar and restaurant to Get Shaken and Stirred with ACFF at Tito’s Night, where special cocktails, light hors d’oeuvres, and a late night dinner menu will be offered.

Another excellent West Virginia-based film screens on Saturday, October 24, at the National Conservation Training Center at 4:15pm. Overburden, directed by Chad Stevens, profiles a pro-coal activist who joins forces with a tree-hugging environmentalist to take on Massey Energy after her brother is killed in a mining disaster. This screening, offered on a ‘pay as you can’ basis, is the West Virginia premier and people associated with the film will be attending.

Audiences moved to act will be offered “action opportunities” on the ACFF website to learn more about how to get involved with protecting the environment.

Tickets for these and 42 other films from around the globe are currently available online at www.conservationfilmfest.org.


ACFF Partners with Shenandoah University to Present ‘Best of Fest’ October 1, 2015

If you don’t think people picking up trash sounds like the makings of a good movie, you haven’t yet seen “Trash Dance.” Choreographer Allison Orr finds beauty and grace in garbage trucks and in the men and women who do this dirty, difficult, and sometimes dangerous work. After following Austin sanitation workers on their daily routes for several weeks, Orr convinces them to perform what results in a beautiful and poignant performance for an audience of thousands.Trash Dance edited

The American Conservation Film Festival (ACFF), based in Shepherdstown, WV, is entering its 13th season of presenting the most outstanding conservation-themed documentary films and programming with the mission of informing and inspiring people to become engaged in conservation issues. To bring some of ACFF’s best films to a wider audience, they do a Best of Fest at theaters and venues around the West Virginia-Virginia-Maryland region. Best of Fest is coming to Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA, on October 1st in the Halpin-Harrison Hall, Stimpson Auditorium. Show time is at 6:30pm.

 The university’s environmental studies, mass communication, and dance programs, along with the Shenandoah Outdoor Adventure & Recreation program, are co-sponsoring the event, which is open and free to the public. “This is really the perfect movie to screen at Shenandoah,” said Jennifer Lee, ACFF’s Development & Communications Director. “It is fun, moving, personal, and combines conservation with performance art.”

“Trash Dance” was the Festival’s 2014 Green Fire Award winner, its top award for filmmaking excellence. In addition to the movie, several trailers of films in the upcoming 2015 Festival will be shown to give audience members a preview.

“We are excited to partner with ACFF and bring this unique film to the attention of our students, faculty and staff, as well as the local community,” said Shenandoah University President Tracy Fitzsimmons.

For more information about the film, please visit http://trashdancemovie.com
For information about the 2015 American Conservation Film Festival, visit http://conservationfilmfest.org.
For information on Shenandoah University, visit http://www.su.edu

Press Contact:
Jennifer Lee, ACFF Development & Communications Director

13th American Conservation Film Festival Announces 2015 Schedule

Download Press Release

Shepherdstown, WV – Three films at this year’s American Conservation Film Festival will make their world premier and four their US premier among the 46 compelling films screening from October 23 to 25 in Shepherdstown. The Festival brings together the finest conservation films and filmmakers from around the world. The weekend also features discussions with scientists and educators, professional workshops, family programming, and social events — all with the mission of engaging, informing, and inspiring its audience through the power of film.

This year’s Festival will present films with a wide range of environmental and conservation themes. The Festival opens on October 23 with a block dedicated to West Virginia and features three films profiling the environmental and economic injustices the state has suffered over the decades.   Filmmaker Mari-Lynn Evans will discuss her film “Blood on the Mountain” about the history and legacy of coal mining in the state. On the same night in another venue, an exciting block of films featuring wild mustangs (Unbranded) and bison (Silencing the Thunder) will send you to the mountains of the American west. After the films, ACFF invites you to get stirred and shaken at Tito’s night at Domestic restaurant, sponsored by Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Discuss the films, mingle with filmmakers, and enjoy specialty cocktails and a late-night dinner.

At five venues in and around Shepherdstown, ACFF invites its audience to explore the world through the stories, images, and people that create this diverse offering of films. Several filmmakers and subject matter experts will be present during the festival and participating in discussions following the screening of their films. Jacob Steinberg will introduce the world premier of his film Osprey: Marine Sentinel; Dr. Amanda Stronza, Director of the Ecoexist Project will introduce Pathways to Coexistence about the people and elephants of Botswana; and student filmmaker, Sam Sheline will be on hand for his film called Add One Back about oyster farming in the Chesapeake Bay.

ACFF engages its audience in issue-relevant films, some uplifting and some enraging, and encourages festival participants to deepen their understanding of these issues and take action. The “Action Opps” page of the ACFF website will offer resources that support audience members in turning inspiration into action.  The Conservation Filmmaker Workshop is offered October 24 and 25 at the National Conservation Training Center to aspiring and professional filmmakers who wish to hone their craft, exchange ideas in a creative and collaborative environment, and expand their professional network with colleagues and industry leaders working in a similar genre of film production

 ACFF presents four awards to outstanding festival films: the Green Fire Award for overall excellence in filmmaking; the Broadcast Award for a film previously or scheduled to air on a national television network; the Student Filmmaker Award, a $500 cash prize awarded to an emerging student filmmaker; and the Audience Choice Award. All of the award-winning films will be shown at an encore event on November 1 at the Shepherdstown Opera House.

Full festival passes, allowing entrance to all films and events over the four days, are $40, day passes are $20, and tickets for a specific block of films are $12. Discounts offered for seniors, students, and members of the military.

 Get a sense of the Festival here: https://vimeo.com/114801522

Film descriptions, schedule, and ticket info here: www.conservationfilmfest.org.

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About ACFF

The American Conservation Film Festival is an annual event held in Shepherdstown, WV, a vibrant arts community 70 miles west of Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD. ACFF features films from a diverse group of conservation filmmakers from around the world.

This 501(c)(3) non-profit organization addresses conservation through the lens of film, providing a platform for education and dialogue about more sustainable ways to live.  ACFF programming promotes solutions to pressing conservation issues, respect for the world’s natural and cultural heritage, and passion for conserving our resources.  Since 2003, the Festival has screened over 400 films to over 30,000 audience members, presented filmmaking workshops for aspiring documentary filmmakers, hosted panel discussions with filmmakers, and offered free family programs with the mission of engaging, informing, and inspiring people toward better ways to live, work, and play.


2015 ACFF Sponsors

The 2015 American Conservation Film Festival is sponsored by: The Campbell Foundation, the Nora Roberts Foundation, Patagonia, Earth Touch, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service National Conservation Training Center, West Virginia Division of Tourism, Shepherd University, The Downstream Project, The Observer, Oxbow Farm, Route 11 Potato Chips, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Hobert & Kerr, P.C., Shepherdstown Opera House, Green Path Consulting, Flurie, Slick & Kinnett CPAs, Sparkfire Media, Friends of the National Conservation Training Center, HBP Inc., Jefferson County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Skinner Law Firm, West Virginia Film Office, Younis Orthodontics, Barbara and Andy Ferrari, The Spirit of Jefferson, Fallon Insurance, and Jefferson Security Bank.

Press Contact:

Jennifer Lee, ACFF Development & Communications Director
jennifer@conservationfilmfest.org   (540) 539.6150