Sheridan Opera House - May 23, 2015 - 12:15 p.m.

Date: May 23, 2015
Start Time: 12:15 p.m.
A Line in the Sand

A Line in the Sand

Film Screening — Duration: 3 mins

The director of Mountainfilm on Tour from 2006 to 2011, Justin Clifton now devotes his talents to making films with the specific aim of helping environmental and social justice organizations tell their stories. A Line in the Sand is one of three short films done in collaboration with The Grand Canyon Trust, aimed at raising public support for protection of threatened parts of Canyonlands. Co-directed by Clifton and Chris Cresci, A Line in the Sand is a spirited call to arms, illustrating some of Edward Abbey’s most inspiring and passionate language with beautiful 3-D animation.

California: Paradise Burning

California: Paradise Burning

Film Screening — Duration: 8 mins

The collapse of California’s Central Valley, as the region’s worst drought in recorded history enters its fourth year, is shot in artful black and white in this short film. California: Paradise Burning can’t help but evoke the Depression-era work of Walker Evans, especially given this film’s focus on the individual farmers and farmworkers who are most immediately affected by the disaster and soon to be out of work and out of business. Photographers Matt Black and Ed Kashi alternate still images with interview footage, producing a shattering portrait of an agricultural paradise, albeit an irrigated one, rapidly turning into a desert. The causes, the solutions and the broader implications are all left to the viewer’s imagination.

What’s Motivating Hayes

What’s Motivating Hayes

Film Screening — Duration: 15 mins

In 1998, the agribusiness now known as Syngenta asked UC Berkeley biologist Tyrone Hayes to study the effects of its herbicide atrazine on frogs. When his research found that atrazine impairs the reproductive organs of frogs, Syngenta launched a full-scale campaign to discredit Hayes, even going as far as investigating his wife and his finances.

Hayes, who grew up collecting reptiles and amphibians in South Carolina’s ditches before finishing at the top of his class in Harvard, could have easily backed down to avoid the corporation’s wrath. Instead, he risked his reputation, career and livelihood for the sake of science and the future of amphibians.

What’s Motivating Hayes? offers a glimpse into the kind of individual we need more of in today’s world: unwavering, courageous and willing to fight for what is right.

A Thousand Cuts

1000 Cuts

Film Screening — Duration: 10 mins

Oil pads, drilling rigs, gaseous flare-offs, all in close proximity to redrock spires, painted walls and graceful arches. What is happening to Utah’s canyon country? Photographer and climate activist Jim Balog (Chasing Ice, Mountainfilm 2012) sets off with his camera and a crew to investigate the insidious invasion of industry on one of the country’s crown jewels: the Greater Canyonlands.

From WTF, Evolution?! - Workman Publishing South American Tapir Tapirus terrestris Photo © Thomas Vinke/age footstock

2015 Presentation: Mara Grunbaum


Mara Grunbaum is the rare species of human who melds science with humor. The Brooklyn-based science writer and editor is the author of the new book WTF, Evolution?!, which was born from her hilarious blog of the same name. In WTF, Evolution?!, Grunbaum pokes fun at evolution for some of its most galling and baffling creations. Penis-fencing flatworms, giraffe neck weevils, carnivorous potatoes: “Really, evolution? Go home, you’re drunk.”

In this presentation, Grunbaum will team up with local actor Cat Lee Covert[2]  to perform preposterous dialogues in which evolution does its best to defend questionable decisions, such as putting a pearlfish inside the anus of a sea cucumber or allowing the tsetse fly to give live birth.

“Gross, evolution.”

“Miraculous, you mean.”

Grunbaum has written for adults and kids in Popular Science, Discover, Scholastic's Science World and SuperScience magazine and other publications, and one time she fact-checked a planet to death. She is a graduate of NYU's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. Before returning to New York, she worked for several years as a freelance reporter in Portland, Oregon, where she wrote about local politics, poverty and social justice.

In Person:
  • Mara Grunbaum