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About Tales from Planet Earth

Tales From Planet Earth showcases global environmental films with the belief that issues don't move people . . . stories do! We try to link compelling narratives to the work of scholars and to efforts by community partners advocating for environmental and social justice. The highlight of our work is a biennial film festival thematically journeying around the globe to explore how stories told through film shape our understanding of nature and inspire action on behalf of the diversity of life.

To date, our four festivals -- 2007 on the theme of Hope, 2009 on the theme of Justice, 2012 on the theme of Environmental Soundings, and 2013 on the theme of Futures -- have collectively drawn over 14,000 festival-goers and have screened more than 150 films set in 42 different countries on all 7 continents! Our next festival will take place November 6-8, 2015, curated around the theme of Belief.

Judith Helfand and students in one of the Tales from Planet Earth film classes, fall of 2007Over the years, the festival has co-sponsored with the UW Arts Institute an interdisciplinary Artist-in-Residence program, which has trained novice student filmmakers and community organizers to create films and to use the festivals' storytelling to benefit community groups in Wisconsin through outreach campaigns. Resident artists have included Sundance and Peabody Award-winning filmmakers Judith Helfand, Sarita Siegel, and Alex Rivera.

Tales from Planet Earth also has an international partner, the KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, who screened many of our films in Stockholm in April 2014 -- sharing tales about the planet across the planet. We are pleased to be continuing this partnership in the coming years.

This project is a major outreach event of the Center for Culture, History, and Environment within the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Center's mission is to bring together faculty, staff, graduate students and others from a wide array of disciplines to explore changing relationships between people and environment over time. Because human interactions with the natural world are always mediated by institutions, politics, ideas, and values, an important component of the Center's mission is to understand how knowledge, beliefs, political economy, and culture have shaped, and been shaped, by the environment.