2007 Student Films

students watching a film on a computer

In 2007, the Environmental Filmmaking Workshop was taught by Gregg Mitman, Judith Helfand, Sarita Siegel, and Erika Simon. The student films were shown throughout the 2007 Tales from Planet Earth film festival. Farmer John was accepted at the 2008 Wisconsin Film Festival and I'm In a Badger State of Mind was accepted as part of a workshop at the 2008 Hazel Wolf Film Festival in Seattle. The starting question for all these films was: What’s So Natural About Wisconsin?

click to learn more about Alternate Living

Alternate Living

Directed by Jay Leasa

A story of one family living off-grid

John Ivanko and his wife, Lisa Kivirist, chose to leave the hustle and bustle and intense consumerism of the big city for a more energy efficient and conservation-oriented lifestyle. They grow 70 percent of their own food, produce their own biofuel that can be used in cars, tractors and other diesel vehicles and generate enough electricity through their solar and wind energy systems to power their entire bed and breakfast and farming businesses. They actually receive a check from their utility company for producing a surplus! But for them, the money saved and the ecological footprint reduced are not nearly as important as the legacy of energy consciousness and environmental awareness they’re leaving their son, Liam.

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Directed by Kathleen Masterson

The ultimate recycling machine

In a state where industrial dairies are replacing familyrun farms, this dairy goliath in northeastern Wisconsin is working to lessen the vast environmental impact of the bovine lifecycle. In addition to significant fossil fuel usage, a farm this size produces more than 150 million pounds of manure each year or the weight equivalent of 60,000 Honda Civics. So... Holsum Dairy is striving to minimize their environmental impact by recycling every part of the cow. But the lingering question remains—what is the cost of human interference in nature’s cycles?

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Farmer John

Directed by Megan Katz

(or) "How to run your farm from 500 miles away"

Here in the middle of "America's Dairyland" the fields of corn are golden brown, sun dapples the red barns and peaceful cows dot the countryside. City folks like to romanticize idyllic side-of-the-road notions of life on the farm; but here’s a dairy farmer who loves his life ... and has a lot more to talk about than milk yield.

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Fish Fry

Directed by Amrys Williams

The tradition, the fish, the lakes . . . the ocean?

From the kitchens of one of Madison's favorite Friday-night spots to the hallowed halls of the University, Fish Fry traces the origins, meanings, and practices behind this state custom, showing how a Wisconsin phenomenon is connected to places and activities beyond the state's borders or even the shores of the Great Lakes. Hold fast to your fork and discover how these pan-aquatic connections do not diminish the Wisconsin-ness of the fish fry or its adherents.

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For When the Buffalo Roam

Directed by Jesse Mursky-Fuller

A meditative look at prairie restoration by any means necessary

All across Wisconsin the dreaded garlic mustard, buckthorn and purple loosestrife are WANTED--DEAD or ALIVE. They are being burned out, weed whacked and chemically treated. On the other side of the beloved prairie, native seeds and heritage flora are being harvested and replanted. What time will it be when the prairie is restored?

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Freewheels and Freedom

Directed by Krista Rasmussen

A ride through Madison bike culture

Peering into the world of Freewheel, one will discover that the ways people use and get their bicycles are as diverse as the people themselves. Freewheel is a free bicycle repair shop where anyone can build a free bike. After three hours of volunteering in the shop and helping others to build free bicycles, you get to build your own bike and ride off— FREE. A meditation (mostly on wheels) into how Madison is striving to make bicycling an easy alternative to motor transportation for all people, no matter their income level. Madison's people of the bicycle agree: "winter, summer, rain or shine," bicycling provides a sense of freedom and is just more fun!

click to learn more about I'm In a Badger State of Mind

I'm In a Badger State of Mind

Directed by Peter Boger

A totemic cult so big . . . only the high priests of Badgerdom truly understand

Everyone knows that Wisconsin is the "Badger State," but what is a Wisconsin badger really? This film explores the cultural history of badgers and meets self-proclaimed Wisconsin Badgers, including UW-Madison’s elite team of "Bucky Badgers." Why are badgers so important to Wisconsin? Everyone has answers at the ready, but are their feelings about this icon grounded in fact or fiction? In history, nature or imagination?

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Matt's Turkeys

Directed by Gregg Mitman

Birds never had it so good

Thanks to the efforts of farmers like Matthew Smith of Blue Valley Gardens, heritage turkeys have come back to their native Wisconsin home. With a little love and respect, Matt Smith gives them the best 35 weeks of their life.