Listed below are speakers and filmmakers who participated inTales from Planet Earth 2012. We are grateful to all for sharing their insight and perspectives to enhance the festival's film offerings.
Resident Faculty Fellow, Spanish and Portuguese, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Katarzyna Olga Beilin specializes in narrative, film and culture of contemporary Spain. She is an author of three books: Conversaciones literarias con novelistas contemporáneos (Literary Conversations with Contemporary Novelists, Tamesis, 2004), Meteory (Metheors, a novel, Agawa 2005), and Del infierno al cuerpo: otredad en la narrativa y cine peninsular contemporáneo (From Hell to Flesh: Otherness in Spanish Contemporary Narrative and Film, Libertarias, 2007). This last book focuses on otherness in Spanish contemporary literature and film and its meanings in ethics and epistemology of the last two centuries. Thus it connects to the current project, where the other takes form of a non-human animal. Katarzyna is also finishing her second novel, Aquarius, which inquires about the multiple meanings and forms of the end of the world.
Ph.D. Student, Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Introducing Mushrooms of Concrete and Pit No. 8, Sunday, March 25, 12:00 pm, The Marquee Theater at Union South
Sarah Bennett is a PhD student in the UW Department of Geography. She lived in Moscow for a year after college and learned about Russia's animated film tradition. She returned to the US and wrote her master's thesis on how viewers will spatially engage with Russian animated films. Today she is working on mapping human movement. She also enjoys Eastern European folk dancing.
Ph.D. Candidate, Environment and Resources, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Peter Boger is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and has worked as the primary programmer for Tales from Planet Earth in both 2009 and 2012. He first became involved with Tales in 2007, when his student film, In a Badger State of Mind, was one of the festival trailers. 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. His dissertation looks at the impact of animals on film on real-world wildlife conservation -- with a focus on penguins, elephants, and wolves.
Director, The City Dark
Discussing The City Dark, Friday, March 30, 9:00 pm, MMoCA;
Filmmaker Panel, Saturday, March 31, 10:30 am, Monona Terrace
Ian Cheney grew up in New England and received both a bachelor's and master's degree from Yale University. After graduate school, Ian co-created and starred in the feature documentary King Corn. King Corn was released theatrically in 50 cities and broadcast nationally on PBS. Ian also directed the short films Two Buckets, broadcast on WGBH-Boston in 2006, and Truck Farm. Ian is also the outreach producer for Kaiulani Lee's film about pioneering environmentalist Rachel Carson, A Sense of Wonder, and was a contributing cinematographer on the award-winning lyme disease documentary Under Our Skin. He founded Wicked Delicate Films with Curt Ellis in 2005.
Director, Dane Arts
Since May 2007, Karen Crossley has been the director of Dane Arts, formerly known as the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission. She was raised in Minnesota, but has lived in Madison since 1984. She holds a BA in Environmental Studies, from Colby College in Maine; an MS in Botany, from the University of Washington in Seattle; and an Executive MBA from the Wisconsin School of Business, UW-Madison. Professionally, Karen worked for The Nature Conservancy in Washington, Maine and Wisconsin spanning 10 years. She served the University of Wisconsin Foundation for nearly seventeen years, first as lead development officer for the Business School and then as vice president and member of the senior leadership team. Her career change to Dane Arts elevated a lifelong appreciation of arts and culture into primary focus within her professional life and offers abundant opportunities to share this passion with fellow residents of Dane County.
Visiting Associate Professor, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
John Francis is known the world over as the Planetwalker. In 1971, Dr. Francis witnessed an oil spill in San Francisco Bay. The effects of the spill compelled him to stop using motorized vehicles. Several months later, to stop the arguments about the power of one person's actions, he took a vow of silence. His non-motorized lifestyle lasted twenty-two years, and his silence seventeen. During that time Dr. Francis walked across the United States earning a B.A at Southern Oregon State College, an M.S. in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana and a Ph.D. in land resources at the University of Wisconsin. He later sailed and walked through the Caribbean and then walked the length of South America. He is an education fellow at the National Geographic Society, and currently a visiting associate professor of environmental studies at the UW-Madison Nelson Institute and is the author of: Planetwalker. 22 Years of Walking. 17 Years of Silence and The Ragged Edge of Silence: Finding Peace in a Noisy World.
Director, Wisconsin Film Festival
A sixth-generation Wisconsinite, Meg Hamel carries on a family tradition of local support for the arts. She is the director of the Wisconsin Film Festival, an annual event presented by the University of Wisconsin which showcases 200 international films to an audience of 35,000. Hamel has been an advocate of film festivals around Wisconsin, including being a volunteer for Tales from Planet Earth. When not watching prospective festival films in a small, dark room, she enjoys hiking on her father's Marquette County prairie, home to a Federally supported program to restore endangered Karner Blue butterfly habit.
Discussing Cooked, Thursday, March 29, 9:00 pm, UW Cinematheque; Filmmaker Panel, Saturday, March 31, 10:30am, Monona Terrace
Award-winning filmmaker, educator, field-explorer and social entrepreneur, Judith Helfand is dedicated to building the field of social justice through film. She co-founded -- co-designed, branded and helped launch -- Working Films, a national leader in linking non-fiction filmmaking to cutting edge activism and Chicken & Egg Pictures, a hybrid foundation/production entity that takes risks with the women filmmakers it supports through strategically timed grants matched by "hands-with" mentorship. She has taught documentary filmmaking at NYU, New School University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her films include the ITVS supported Uprising of '34, which she co-directed with George Stoney and was broadcast on POV in 1995 and the crowd-pleasers A Healthy Baby Girl, funded by ITVS and broadcast on POV in 1997, and its Sundance award-winning sequel and "toxic comedy" Blue Vinyl. Recipient of a 2007 United States Artists fellowship, Helfand is currently in production on Cooked, a feature documentary exploring extreme heat, poverty and the politics of disaster. She has participated in and helped to co-create the previous two editions of Tales from Planet Earth.
M.S. Student, Environment and Resources, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Marya is a master's candidate in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Her work explores how citizens can support ecological restoration through volunteerism and citizen-based monitoring. Her case study is the Badger Army Ammunition Plant in Sauk County, Wisconsin. The decommissioning of the Badger Plant was announced in 1997 and it since has been a fascinating example of collaborative land management, community participation and activism, and the unique challenges and opportunities for conservation. Marya has incorporated her interest in the Badger Plant into many class projects, including using it as the focus of a digital short to be shown at the screening of Semper Fi: Always Faithful, At the Heart of Badger.
President and Co-founder, Rebuild the Dream
Green Jobs Panel, Monday, March 26, 12:00 pm, Union South;
Keynote Speaker, Monday, March 26, 7:30 pm, Barrymore Theatre
Van Jones is president and co-founder of Rebuild the Dream, a pioneering initiative to restore good jobs and economic opportunity. He has a 15-year track record as a successful, innovative and award-winning social entrepreneur. He is also the co-founder of three, thriving nonprofit organizations: the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change, and Green For All. He is the author of a New York Times best seller, The Green Collar Economy. The World Economic Forum named Van a Young Global Leader in 2005. In 2008, Fast Company magazine said he had one of the 12 most creative minds on Earth. Time named Van a global environmental hero in 2008; it named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2009. A Yale-educated attorney, Van worked as the green jobs advisor to the Obama White House in 2009. During the 2010-11 academic year, Van taught environmental policy and politics at Princeton University. Today, he serves on the boards of several prestigious organizations, including the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights. He is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and American Progress Action Fund.
Director, Solarize This
Shalini Kantayya is a filmmaker, eco-activist, and reality show survivor (she was picked by Steven Spielberg as one of 10 finalists out of 12,000 filmmakers to compete on the show On the Lot in search of the next great director), committed to using media as a tool to transform culture. The mission of her production company, 7th Empire Media, is to create a culture of human rights and a sustainable planet through wildly imaginative media. Her award-winning film a DROP of LIFE, is a futuristic sci-fi flick about the mounting global water crisis and has been used as an organizing tool in over 40 villages across Africa (it screened at Tales from Planet Earth 2009). A William D. Fulbright Scholar, she has received recognition from the Jerome Foundation, NY Women in Film & Television, and Media Action Network. Shalini is currently a Food and Policy Fellow at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and is developing a slate of feature films, including her work-in-progress Solarize This.
Associate Professor, Medical History and History of Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Rick Keller is an associate professor of Medical History and History of Science at UW-Madison. He is the author of Colonial Madness: Psychiatry in French North Africa and Unconscious Dominions: Psychoanalysis, Colonial Trauma, and Global Sovereignties. His most recent research interests included publication of City of Light, City of Heat: Social Ecology and the Making of the Paris Heat Wave Catastrophe, about the deadly European heat wave of 2003, with a specific focus on the social dimensions of the catastrophe in Paris.
Ph.D. Candidate, Design Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Jennifer Kaufmann-Buhler is a current PhD candidate in the Design Studies Department at UW-Madison. Her work examines the history of office cubicles from the progressive origins of the "open plan" in the 1960s through the maligned "cube farms" of the 1990s. When she is not working on her dissertation, Jennifer works as the Assistant Director of the Letters & Science Honors Program at UW-Madison.
Co-Director and Co-Producer, Semper Fi: Always Faithful
Rachel Libert is a New York-based director. Her critically acclaimed documentary Beyond Conviction was called a "humanizing portrait of life after death" by the Philadelphia Weekly and "Must See Cinema" by the Hollywood Reporter. After premiering in competition at the Los Angeles Film Festival, the film was broadcast as a primetime special on MSNBC and featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the TODAY Show. It also received a PASS award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency and the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Woodstock Film Festival.
Professor, Department of Life Sciences Communication, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Moderator, Climate Change Shorts Panel, Friday, March 30, 8:30 am; Moderator, Panel including The Last Menominee, Friday, March 30, 10:30 am, Monona Terrace
Patty Loew is a Professor in the Department of Life Science Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also works as a producer for WHA-TV (PBS) and as co-host of In Wisconsin, a weekly news and public affairs program that airs statewide on Wisconsin Public Television. Her interests lie in television documentary production and Native American media, particularly how indigenous people use the media to form identity, reconstruct the past, and assert their sovereignty and treaty rights. She has authored two books -- Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal and Native People of Wisconsin, a social studies text for elementary school children. She has produced a the PBS documentary, Way of the Warrior, which examines the role and cultural meaning of Native American military service in the 20th Century. She is an enrolled member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe.
Community Services Manager, Madison Gas & Electric
Annette Miller has lived in Madison since 1989 and has spent time in both government, the private sector, and the university environment, having graduated from UW-Madison in 1992. She worked for eleven years for state government, providing policy, budget, and project management skills on topics such as new program development, workforce issues, and operational best practices. In 2003, she became a mayoral aide for the Mayor of Madison working on community and neighborhood issues. Most of her time and energy was directed towards issues related to low-income, fixed income, communities of color and other vulnerable populations. She developed many partnerships with groups who represented multiple racial and ethnic populations, as well as non-profits and community based organizations that served those targeted populations. She was instrumental in coordinating and managing the Mayor's Vision for Allied Drive, Neighborhood Resource Teams, Mayor's Community Advisory Committee, Department of Civil Rights, and Allied Drive Taskforce on Strategies. After leaving the Mayor's Office, Annette moved on to work in the private sector for Madison Gas and Electric where she continues her work in the community. As Community Services Manager, she helps build partnerships and opportunities to help market and promote the programs and services of Madison Gas and Electric, especially to low-income communities and communities of color.
Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin Law School
Thomas W. Mitchell is an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School where he directs the Program in Real Estate, Land Use, and Community Development, a new multi-disciplinary program at the Law School designed with curricular, scholarly, and policy components to expand opportunities for students and faculty. He teaches Property, Land Use, Remedies, and a seminar course in Rural Development. He has done extensive research and legislative and outreach work on property issues impacting poor and/or minority communities, both domestically and internationally, and is a national expert on property issues which impact African-Americans. Professor Mitchell is just the second African-American to have served as a Reporter for the Uniform Law Commission in the commission's 120-year history, a period of time in which it has promulgated more than 300 uniform acts including the Uniform Commercial Code and the Uniform Probate Code. He has served on the Property Preservation Task Force, a task force of the A.B.A.'s Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law, and serves on the board of Farmers' Legal Action Group, Gathering Waters Conservancy, and the Association for Law, Property and Society.
Departments of History of Science, Medical History, and Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Introducing Life Size Memories, Sunday, March 35, 3:00 pm, The Marquee Theater at Union South,
Opening Remarks, Festival Kickoff, Monday, March 26, 7:30 pm, Barrymore Theatre
Moderating Filmmaker Panel, Saturday, March 31, 10:30 am, Monona Terrace
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. He is the author of The State of Nature: Ecology and American Social Thought, 1900-1950 (1992), Reel Nature: America's Romance with Wildlife on Film (1999), and Breathing Space: How Allergies Shape Our Lives and Landscapes (2007). He has written extensively on nature and film, and has served as the interim director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies since 2008.
Executive Secretary, Board of Commissioners of Public Lands
Tia Nelson was named executive secretary of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands in October 2004. She oversees the management of approximately 78,000 acres of Trust Lands located in northern Wisconsin, the State Trust Fund Loan Program, four Trust Funds valued at over $656 million, and the Original Land Records Program, which includes land survey records dating back to the 1830s. She is a graduate of UW-Madison, a conservationist and an environmental education advocate. Tia is the daughter of the late Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin.
Co-owner, Full Spectrum Solar
Burke O'Neal is co-owner of Full Spectrum Solar and has 14 years of experience in all aspects of solar energy system construction, including electrical work, engineering and business management. Full Spectrum Solar is an award-winning Madison business, started in 2002, that specializes in the design and installation of solar electric and solar thermal systems. O'Neal has a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an environmental studies certificate from the Nelson Institute, and he has taken classes in energy planning and sustainable development at the University of Oslo, Norway. He is also a registered Wisconsin Master Electrician.
Professor and Director of Global Environmental Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Jonathan Patz, MD, MPH, is a Professor & Director of Global Environmental Health at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He co-chaired the health expert panel of the US National Assessment on Climate Change and was a Convening Lead Author for the United Nations/World Bank Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. For the past 15 years, Dr. Patz has been a lead author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (or IPCC) – the organization that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore. He has earned medical board certification in both Occupational/Environmental Medicine and Family Medicine and received his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University (1987) and his Master of Public Health degree (1992) from Johns Hopkins University.
Director, Brothers on the Line
Born in Detroit and a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Sasha Reuther is an independent filmmaker in NYC, having worked on a variety of commercials, music videos, corporate/event coverage, and electronic press kits. Brothers On The Line, his first documentary feature, is a provocative historical narrative of power, commitment, and brotherhood about labor organizers Walter, Roy, and Victor Reuther (his grandfather) and their contentious leadership of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.
Introducing a curated series of short films, Thursday, March 29, 7:00 pm, Centro Hispano;
Filmmaker Panel, Saturday, March 31, 10:30 am, Monona Terrace
Alex Rivera is a New York based digital media artist and filmmaker. His first feature film, Sleep Dealer, premiered at Sundance 2008, and won two awards, including the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. Rivera is a Sundance Fellow and a Rockefeller Fellow. His work, which addresses concerns of the Latino community through a language of humor, satire, and metaphor, has also been screened at The Berlin International Film Festival, New Directors/New Films, The Guggenheim Museum, PBS, Telluride, and other international venues. He visited Madison for a week in November 2009 as a guest artist of the university.
Professor, Australian National University and the National Museum of Australia
Libby Robin is an environmental historian and historian of ideas at the Australian National University and at the National Museum of Australia, Canberra. She is Guest Professor at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm. Her books include How a Continent Created a Nation (2007), The Flight of the Emu (2001) and Ecology and Empire (1998) (co-edited with Tom Griffiths). The Future of Nature: Documents of Global Change, an anthology of the literature of global change, co-edited with Sverker Sörlin and Paul Warde, is forthcoming with Yale University Press.
Director, Center on Wisconsin Strategy
Joel Rogers is professor of law, political science, public affairs, and sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also directs COWS (Center on Wisconsin Strategy), and its subsidiary Mayors Innovation Project, Center for State Innovation, and State Smart Transportation Initiative. Rogers has written widely on American politics and public policy (books include On Democracy, Right Turn, The Forgotten Majority, What Workers Want, and, most recently American Society: How It Really Works). He is a MacArthur Foundation Fellow and a longtime social and political activist; Newsweek identifies him as one of the 100 living Americans most likely to shape U.S. politics and culture in the 21st century. He co-founded and was first chair of the Apollo Alliance, and recently co-founded the Emerald Cities Collaborative, whose first project is comprehensive, cost-effective energy retrofits of American's urban building stock.
Professor, Science, Technology, and Society, University of Virginia
Introducing Retrospective: Silent Spring and Toxics in Films, Thursday, March 29, 9:00 pm, The Marquee Theater at Union South
Edmund Russell is a professor with the department of Science, Technology, and Society at the University of Virginia, with a joint appointment in the History department. His research and teaching focus is on environmental history, especially as it intersects the history of science and technology. He is the author of War and Nature: Fighting Humans and Insects with Chemicals from World War I to Silent Spring (Cambridge, 2001) and co-editor of Natural Enemy, Natural Ally: Toward an Environmental History of War (Oregon State, 2004). His books and articles have won prizes from the American Society for Environmental History, the Society for the History of Technology, and the Forum for the History of Science in America. His current research focuses on the impact of human beings on the evolution of other species.
Postdoctorate, Community and Environmental Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Sai obtained his Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In his doctoral work with paper wasps, Sai found that nest vibrations performed by socially dominant wasps pre-dispose brood to develop into workers. The kinds of experiments that Sai's doctoral research entailed, led him to question how the biosciences institute particular relationships with experimented upon lives (be they human or non-human), and spurred his eventual entry into the social and historical studies of science. Sai is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Commmunity & Environmental Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In collaboration with Professor Daniel Lee Kleinman, Sai studies the social and historical dimensions of Colony Collapse Disorde r-- an ongoing phenomenon of mass die-offs of honey bees in the United States and elsewhere. His work examining the politics of knowledge regarding vanishing bees has appeared in the National Academy of Science's Issues in Science & Technology, and is forthcoming in Science, Technology, and Human Values.
Ph.D. Student, English Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Introducing Environmental Soundings Shorts, Tuesday, March 27, 9:00 pm, The Marquee Theater at Union South
Heather Swan is a Ph.D. candidate in Literary and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison whose research examines the human relationship with honeybees through time. She received an MFA in poetry from the UW in 2007 and wanted to further investigate the ways in which art and literature are responding to issues of environmental destruction, exile, and extinction. Last spring an exhibit of her artwork called "Loss, Longing, and Belonging: Inhabiting the Human Body in an Endangered World" was hosted by CHE (Center for Culture, History, and Environment). Her poetry has appeared in The Cream City Review, Iris, Wisconsin People and Ideas, The Comstock Review, and others. Her short collection, The Edge of Damage won first prize from the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets in 2009. She is also a beekeeper.
Jolanda Vanderwal Taylor
Associate Professor, Department of German, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Jolanda Vanderwal Taylor teaches Dutch language, literature and culture courses, and occasionally German, at the UW-Madison. She has worked on projects that seek to promote students' understanding of what a liberal education is for, appropriate uses of technology in teaching, intercultural communication, and global competence. Her research--and teaching--interests include recent responses to migration in the Low Countries, especially with respect to the meanings and practice of tolerance and multiculturalism, the history and literary treatments of memory and of trauma, and the meaning and practice of notions of 'family' in the Netherlands in light of cultural and demographic shifts.
Associate Director, Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Alberto M. Vargas has extensive training and work experience in the institutional, social and technical aspects of community-based natural resource management and the conservation of natural resources. In the past 20 years, Alberto's consulting has engaged him in work in Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico working for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Federal Environmental Attorney's Office of the Mexican Government, the International Institute for Environment and Development, the Inter American Development Bank, the World Wildlife Fund-U.S., the Overseas Development Authority, the National Wildlife Federation, the Integral Institute, and the UW-Madison Land Tenure Center. Alberto has been an Honorary Fellow with the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies since 1998.
Ph.D. Student, English, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Steel Wagstaff is a graduate student in the English department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has completed graduate degrees in English and Library and Information Studies and is currently writing a dissertation about 20th Century American poetry and environmental criticism that will include a chapter about animal encounters. He has been a vegetarian for over a decade.
Associate Vice Chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Dr. Damon A. Williams' practice centers on matters of diversity, inclusion, and organizational change. He currently holds the rank of associate vice chancellor, vice provost, and a research scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the institution's Chief Officer for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and a member of the research faculty in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analyses (ELPA). He is a leader in the enterprise-wide activation of strategic diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives spanning a number of areas, including recruitment and retention of students, faculty, and staff; teaching and learning; marketing and communication; training and leadership development; fund raising and alumni relations, and research and scholarship. His research on chief diversity officers and inclusive excellence have been featured in publications like About Campus, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Diversity Factor, Strategic Diversity & Inclusion Magazine, the Journal of College and University Human Resource Professionals, and Inside Higher Education.
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Southern California
Keith Woodhouse graduated from the University of Wisconsin History Department in 2010, and is now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Southern California. His research focuses on the political theory and ethical claims of radical environmentalism in the late-twentieth-century United States.