When it comes to communicating issues as important as climate change and wildlife poaching, simply conveying the facts won’t do. The best way to inspire action is to lead with the heart, not the head; and one of the most immediate ways to tell a heart story is through film.
Film is a passion shared by several Rachel’s Network members, whether it’s Ruth Ann Harnisch’s harrowing 2015 documentary about rape on college campuses or Caroline Gabel’s work with the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital.
Here are a few of the projects our members have produced in recent years. Want to hold a screening of any of these films? Let us know!:
America’s Dirty Secret: Coal Ash (Mary Bookwalter and Raisa Scriabine, Producers, 2014) People in three Pennsylvania communities suffer from a rare blood cancer. In Juliette, Georgia, people are also getting sick. What do these communities have in common? Coal ash. Some 130 million tons of it is generated in the US each year. It contains toxins like lead, arsenic and mercury and it gets into ground water from unlined pond and pit storage sites.
Arise: The Movie (Molly Ross, Executive Producer, 2012) captures the stories of extraordinary women around the world who are coming together to heal the earth. Ahead of the Rachel’s Network 2013 Annual Conference, Molly Ross’ screened Arise for our members. “They have been sounding boards, cheerleaders and dear friends, and I will be forever grateful,” said Molly. Now Molly is working on a series based on the film, which will feature Rachel’s Network members and friends, and a documentary about Sami women called Still Here.
Baby Elephant Smuggling Exposed (Susan Wallace, Caroline Gabel, Raisa Scriabine, Producers, 2012) looks at the brutal trade in baby elephants on the Thai-Myanmar border. At least 50-100 calves and young females are removed from their forest homes every year and are traded illegally to supply tourist camps. This original investigative report by The Ecologist Film Unit in association with Earth Focus/Link TV and Elephant Family exposes this practice.
BEARTREK (Caroline Gabel, Producer, 2016) takes us to Alaska, Peru, the Arctic, and Borneo to discover four different bear species and the scientists racing to save them. Caroline also produced the forthcoming film The Game Changers and Hacking America (with fellow member Kristina Catto).
The Devil We Know (Alison Carlson, Producer, 2018) unravels one of the biggest environmental scandals of our time, a group of citizens in West Virginia take on a powerful corporation after they discover it has knowingly been dumping a toxic chemical into the drinking water supply. Alison has also helped fund other films on toxic chemicals including The Human Experiment, Toxic Hot Seat, and Semper Fi.
Food Chains (Lisa Holmes, Associate Producer, 2014) is an exposé that follows an intrepid group of Florida farmworkers as they battle to defeat the $4 trillion global supermarket industry through their ingenious Fair Food program, which partners with growers and retailers to improve working conditions for farm laborers in the United States.
The Hunting Ground (Ruth Ann Harnisch, Executive Producer, 2015) is a startling exposé of sexual assault on US college campuses, institutional cover-ups, and the brutal social toll on victims and their families. It comes from the Academy Award-nominated filmmaking team behind The Invisible War and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Ruth Ann is a regular producer of films including Columbus, and the forthcoming Night Comes On and Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry (Elaine Musselman, Producer, 2017) blends observational scenes of farming life, interviews with farmers and community members with evocative, carefully framed shots of the surrounding landscape. In the spirit of Wendell Berry’s agrarian philosophy, Henry County itself emerges as a character in the film.
Hope for Rhinos? (Caroline Gabel, Raisa Scriabine, and Victoria Stack, Producers, 2015) looks at the new approaches being deployed in South Africa—including bullet recovery, DNA fingerprinting and the world’s first all-ladies anti poaching patrol—that could make a critical difference in saving the rhinos from extinction.
UNSAFE: The Truth Behind Everyday Chemicals (Rachel’s Network and Raisa Scriabine, Producers, 2013) examines endocrine disruptors—ubiquitous chemicals that at extremely low doses affect development, metabolism, fertility, and intelligence—and what measures could be taken to better ensure public safety.
Rachel’s Network members have supported over ten Earth Focus programs like this one, reaching hundreds of thousands of viewers with compelling stories about the planet’s biggest challenges. They include segments on bee-killing pesticides, coal pollution in India, the slaughter of dolphins in Peru, gray wolves, the toxic legacy of fracking and other oil and gas development projects, and unregulated cosmetics chemicals.
Earth Focus Series Producer and Rachel’s Network Member Raisa Scriabine has a passion for storytelling and investigating under-reported environmental issues. “Without Rachel’s Network members, none of this would have been possible,” she said.