November 3-5, 2017 · Madison, Wisconsin

2017 Speakers

Schedule Speakers Sponsors

Tales from Planet Earth 2017 is pleased to welcome a tremendous array of speakers from a broad variety of filmmaking, academic, religious, and activist backgrounds. We are grateful to all of them for sharing their insight and enhancing the festival's film offerings.

Peter Boger

Peter Boger
Programming Director, Tales from Planet Earth, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Introducing Mele Murals, Sunday, November 5, 2017, 3 p.m., The Marquee Theater at Union South

Peter Boger earned his Ph.D. in environmental studies from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and has been the primary programmer for Tales from Planet Earth since 2009. He first became involved with Tales in 2007, when his student film, In a Badger State of Mind, was one of the festival trailers and later played at the Hazel Wolf Film Festival in Seattle in 2008. In addition to his work on Tales, he has served as a volunteer programmer for the Wisconsin Film Festival and guest curated for the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's Rooftop Cinema Series. He is a visiting lecturer at UW-Madison in history and environmental studies and his research in animal studies and media studies explores the impacts of film and media celebrity on modern American wildlife conservation.


Savi Horne

Savi Horne
Executive Director, Land Loss Prevention Project
Discussing Arc of Justice and Dark Exodus, Saturday, November 4, 2017, 7 p.m., UW Cinematheque

Savi Horne is executive director of the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers, Land Loss Prevention Project, which was founded in 1983. The Land Loss Prevention Project is a non-profit, public interest law firm with an overarching mission of providing legal expertise, community education, and advocacy skills to help farmers and rural landowners who face legal, economic, and environmental challenges. Horne serves on The United States Environmental Protection Agency's National Environmental Justice Advisory Council. She was a co-Team Leader of the Diversity Initiative of the Farm and Food Policy Project (FFPP) that advocated for policy changes in the 2008 federal Farm Bill, the project was facilitated by the Rural Coalition. As a state, regional and national non-governmental organization leader, she has been instrumental in addressing the needs of small and socially-disadvantage farmers.


Winona LaDuke

Winona LaDuke
Program Director, Honor the Earth
Keynote Speaker and Opening Roundtable: Land is Life, Friday, November 3, 2017, 7 p.m., The Marquee Theater at Union South

Winona LaDuke is an internationally renowned activist working on issues of sustainable development renewable energy and food systems. She lives and works on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota, and is a two-time vice presidential candidate with Ralph Nader for the Green Party. As Program Director of the Honor the Earth, she works nationally and internationally on issues of climate change, renewable energy, and environmental justice with Indigenous communities. She is the founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, one of the largest reservation based non-profit organizations in the country, and a leader in the issues of culturally based sustainable development strategies, renewable energy and food systems. In this work, she also continues national and international work to protect Indigenous plants and heritage foods from patenting and genetic engineering.


Paty Loew

Patty Loew
Professor, Journalism, Northwestern University
Moderating Opening Roundtable: Land is Life, Friday, November 3, 2017, 7 p.m., The Marquee Theater at Union South

Patty Loew is a professor in the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University and director of NU's Center for Native American and Indigenous Research. A former broadcast journalist in public and commercial television, she has produced many documentaries, including Way of the Warrior, which aired nationally on PBS in 2007 and 2011. She is the author of four books: Native People of Wisconsin, which is used by 18,000 Wisconsin school children as a social studies textbook; Teachers Guide to Native People of Wisconsin; Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal; and Seventh Generation Earth Ethics, a collection of biographies of Native American environmental leaders. A member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, her outreach work focuses on Native American youth and digital storytelling.


Sabrina McCormick

Sabrina McCormick
Director, Tribe
Discussing Tribe, Saturday, November 4, 2017, 9 p.m., UW Cinematheque

Sabrina McCormick is a sociologist and filmmaker at George Washington University, who investigates how to motivate climate mitigation and adaptation. Her recent research funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency investigates how and why six U.S. cities act on climate change. She was lead author on the Special Assessment of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change entitled Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. As a Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, McCormick began a long-term research program in climate change and health. She has long worked in the Brazilian Amazon and currently has a research project whose goal is to understand how the political economy of renewable energy development in that region is affecting sustainability for the rainforest and local populations. Her work in this area also includes the development of her first feature narrative film.


Gregg Mitman

Gregg Mitman
Director, The Land Beneath Our Feet
Discussing The Land Beneath our Feet, Sunday, November 5, 2017, 5 p.m., The Marquee Theater at Union South

Gregg Mitman is William Coleman Professor of History of Science and Professor of Medical History and Science & Technology Studies at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. His research and teaching interests span the history of ecology, nature, and health in twentieth-century America across scientific and popular culture. His most recent works include: Documenting the World: Film, Photography, and the Scientific Record (University of Chicago Press, 2016), Breathing Space: How Allergies Shape our Lives and Landscapes (Yale University Press, 2007), and Reel Nature: America's Romance with Wildlife on Film, rev. ed. (University of Washington Press, 2009). He is the founding director of the Nelson Institute's Center for Culture, History and Environment, and is also past president of the American Society for Environmental History.


Paul Robbins

Paul Robbins
Director, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Introducing Opening Roundtable: Land is Life, Friday, November 3, 2017, 7 p.m., The Marquee Theater at Union South

Paul Robbins is the director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he guides the institute in serving as a world leader in addressing rapid global environmental change. He is spearheading several new initiatives in educational innovation, including the establishment of a professional master's degree in Environmental Conservation. He also oversees a rapidly growing undergraduate environmental studies program. Robbins is committed to strengthening the Nelson Institute's commitment to the Wisconsin Idea through the expansion of its innovative service-learning and internship programs, partnerships across campus and with outside agencies and organizations, and community programs and public events. With years of experience as a researcher and educator, specializing in human interactions with nature and the politics of natural resource management, his research addresses questions spanning conservation conflicts, urban ecology, and environment and health interactions.


Iverson White
Director, Dark Exodus
Discussing Dark Exodus, Saturday, November 4, 2017, 7 p.m., UW Cinematheque

Iverson White has written several award-winning screenplays in his distinguished career. His debut film Dark Exodus aired nationally on PBS and received several major awards for short film, including the Dore Schary Award in 1985 and the Paul Robeson award in 1987. Grants from the NEA, Film in the Cities, and the Wisconsin Arts Board enabled him to finish his first feature-length film, Magic Love, in 1992. He has also received a Rockefeller Fellowship for his short film, The Johnson Girls.


Monica White

Monica White
Assistant Professor, Community and Environmental Sociology and Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Moderating discussion of Dark Exodus and Arc of Justice, Saturday, November 4, 2017, 7 p.m., UW Cinematheque

Monica M. White is an assistant professor of Environmental Justice at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a joint appointment in the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology and is a former Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of African American Studies at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign. Her research engages communities of color and grassroots organizations that are involved in the development of sustainable community food systems as a strategy to respond to issues of hunger and food inaccessibility. She is currently working on her first book, Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement, 1880-2010, which contextualizes new forms of contemporary urban agriculture within the historical legacies of African American farmers who fought to acquire and stay on the land.