Ken Sleight, the Idaho farm kid turned river rat who inspired the character Seldom Seen Smith in Edward Abbey’s iconic The Monkey Wrench Gang, first floated the Colorado River through Glen Canyon in 1954. To say it was a pivotal experience is an understatement. As an outfitter, he built his life around the Glen and its tributaries, spending many awe-filled days in the desert Eden. In this film, the 87-year-old recalls the heartbreak of watching his paradise drown under Lake Powell, and the hope that it will one day return to its former glory.
When President Donald Trump announced his plan to drastically slash both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments by millions of acres in December, it was a huge blow to public lands advocates and recreationists. But it was particularly painful to the five tribes of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, who had worked for years to protect the 1.9 million acres of Utah wilderness — home to indigenous lands and countless ruins sites — through national monument designation. And many tribal members responded by fighting back. “We want to ensure that those lands and the knowledge that is tied to those lands are preserved and protected and advanced ... and that our ways of being can continue to exist,” Ethel Branch, the Attorney General of the Navajo Nation, told decision. In this joint presentation, Branch and cultural activist, scholar, filmmaker and fellow front-line fighter Angelo Baca will take the stage to talk about the way indigenous cultures are woven inextricably into the land, the effort that went into creating the monument and what’s at stake today. As Baca wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times, “Bears Ears has been since time immemorial a place of peace and rest, a sanctuary undisturbed by the kind of colonial violence many other places faced. A revitalization and renewal of spirit prevails here and, like the monument, must be kept intact so that healing, of wounds past and present, can take root and grow.”In Person:
After serving in the Army in Iraq, Stacy Bare found himself back home, abusing drugs and alcohol, and on the verge of becoming a statistic. He no longer knew who he was. So Bare convinced two army buddies to deploy on a return mission to Iraq, to, of all things, make a ski movie. Racked by survivor’s guilt and reliving the horrors of their tours of duty, the amateur skiers are challenged to find redemption on rickety towropes and bony couloirs. This time around, they are not invading soldiers, but mountain lovers, building cultural bridges, working toward peace and rewriting a happier ending to their stories.