May 26, 2024

Symphony of Silence Named Winner of $30,000 at Nature Connection Pitch, Co-Presented by The Redford Center and Mountainfilm Festival

Symphony of Silence follows the story of Josue, a young Cofan tribe member from the Amazon rainforest, and his mentor, acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton, as they work to preserve the natural soundscapes of the earth’s quietest places, all while Hempton navigates degenerative hearing loss.

Telluride, CO – May 29, 2024 – The Redford Center, in collaboration with Mountainfilm Festival and in partnership with IF/Then Shorts, is thrilled to announce the winner of the 2024 Nature Connection Pitch. Symphony of Silence, directed by Julianne Sato-Parker and produced by Bridie Bischoff, was selected to receive $30,000 in funding from The Redford Center. The project was chosen by a jury consisting of industry leaders from Exposure Labs, Netflix, The North Face, and Reciprocity Project.

Symphony of Silence, shot in Olympic National Park and Seattle in Washington and the Zobalo region of the Amazon Rainforest, follows Josue, a member of the Cofan tribe in the Amazon rainforest, to Washington State as he learns how to capture the sounds of the natural world from Gordon Hempton, a pioneering acoustic ecologist who is losing his hearing. The pair come from vastly different worlds and generations but share the simple belief that recording and preserving the natural sounds of the planet has the potential to save it. 

Symphony of Silence was one of five finalists who pitched for the award, which seeks impactful stories of leaders, activists, and communities paving the way for creative and equitable solutions that reconnect individuals and communities with nature and the outdoors. The five finalist projects showcased issues such as equitable access to nature amidst urban barriers, the preservation of endangered species, and the revitalization of cultural traditions erased by settler colonialism. Through their compelling storytelling, these filmmakers shed light on the urgent imperative to protect our planet for future generations.

The jury was also especially moved and impressed by the impact goals of the film Follow The Water, supporting Indigenous water protectors in Guam. During the deliberation process, the jury raised funds for a special recognition award in the amount of $20,000 to support this project’s impact. 

"These filmmakers have captured a remarkable spectrum of topics that magnify humanity's intricate connection with nature. Their stories personalize and humanize our bond and inspire audiences to engage with the broader movements dedicated to environmental progress,” said Jill Tidman, Executive Director of The Redford Center. “Funding values-based, independent films like these is vital to driving more participation in the solutions, especially at a time when industry support is scarce and shrinking. It’s truly an honor to work alongside our partners and peers to support these artists and their powerful work.”

Nature Connection Pitch events were held in-person at the 2024 Mountainfilm Festival in Telluride, CO, taking place May 23–27, 2024, and included a workshop on impact-driven filmmaking hosted by The Redford Center, and a tailored pitch training conducted by IF/Then Shorts. While Symphony of Silence received the winning production grant, the four remaining finalists received grants of $7,000 each to support the development and production of their documentaries, impact and professional development, as well as travel, accommodation and passes to attend Mountainfilm Festival. 

The five finalist films included:
Symphony of Silence (Juliane Sato Parker, director; Bridie Bischoff, producer) tells the story of Josue, a member of the Cofan tribe in the Amazon rainforest, has come to Washington State to learn how to capture the sounds of the natural world Gordon Hempton, a pioneering acoustic ecologist who is losing his hearing. The pair come from vastly different worlds, but share the simple belief that recording the natural sounds of the planet has the potential to help save it. 

Hitoláayca: Going Upriver (Anna Lueck, director; Clark Shimeall, producer): Devin Reuben is training to be the first certified nimiipuu whitewater guide of his generation. The nimiipuu (Nez Perce) have a long history with river travel — in fact, they introduced the practice to settlers — but centuries of displacement and disconnection means Tribal members are now largely absent from their ancestral rivers. Devin says, “it’s one big step for us: not just me, all of us. We’re slowly bringing our culture back.”

Follow the Water (Maria Hernandez May, director): When her family land is taken for a bombing range by the US military, an Indigenous Chamorro daughter takes it upon herself to learn Western science from an elder with youth by her side. Will scientific data provide the answers for the community to hold the U.S. federal agencies accountable?

Between Moon Tides (Jason Jaacks, director): As sea levels inch upwards, researchers predict that the salt marsh sparrow will go extinct by 2050. In coastal Rhode Island, a team of citizen scientists spends every day during the breeding season in the marsh — finding nests, monitoring nestlings, and experimenting with ways to stave off the sparrows’ nests from the encroaching tides.

Hudson River Riders (Sonia Sczcesna, co-director; Rita Hawk, executive producer): After being threatened at knifepoint, a teenage Chevaughn finds himself in the company of sea-kayakers, and discovers a way to make New York City feel a bit more like his childhood home in Jamaica. Now, he’s on a mission to reshape the future of the city by reconnecting it to the water and is bringing a group of local kids on a source-to-sea kayaking mission from the headwaters of the Hudson to the Statue of Liberty.

The Nature Connection Pitch is an evolution and expansion on the Nature Connection and Nature Access Pitch that The Redford Center and IF/Then Shorts have partnered on since 2021. 

Co-founded in 2005 by activists and filmmakers Robert Redford and James Redford, The Redford Center is a nonprofit that advances environmental solutions through the power of stories that move. As one of the only US-based nonprofits solely dedicated to environmental impact filmmaking, The Redford Center develops and invests in projects that foster action and strengthen the reach of the grassroots efforts powering the environmental movement. Over the years, The Redford Center has produced three award-winning feature documentaries and more than 40 short films, supported over 165 film and media projects with grants and other services, inspired the creation of 550 student films, and disbursed more than $23 million to environmental film projects, amplifying change-making environmental solutions to millions of people worldwide. Learn more at

IF/Then Shorts is a fund, career development and filmmaker advocacy initiative for short documentaries at Field of Vision. With a focus on breaking systemic and structural barriers to access,IF/Then amplifies regional, community-centered stories and supports non-fiction filmmakers through a combination of project grants, substantial mentorship, industry consultations, editorial feedback, filmmaker advocacy, and multi-platform distribution support. Since its inception in 2017, IF/Then has supported 110+ U.S. and international short documentary projects through pitch competitions at renowned film festivals and open calls for labs and residencies. Many IF/Then-supported projects have achieved prestigious festival premieres, awards, and extensive media broadcasts on platforms such as New York Times Op-Docs, Al Jazeera English, PBS REEL SOUTH, POV Shorts, Criterion Channel, Cathay Pacific Airlines, Netflix, and more.

Mountainfilm uses the power of film, art and ideas to inspire audiences to create a better world. Held every Memorial Day weekend, the Mountainfilm festival brings together a community of filmmakers and change makers, showcasing documentary films that celebrate adventure, activism, social justice, environment and indomitable spirit. Mountainfilm celebrates indomitable spirit, educates and inspires audiences, and motivates individuals and communities to advance solutions for a livable world. Started in 1979, Mountainfilm is one of America’s longest-running film festivals. In addition to screening over 100 leading independent documentary films from around the world, the festival includes the Minds Moving Mountains Speaker Series, featuring a wide array of special guests ranging from artists to adventurers and academics to activists. Festival programming also includes art exhibits, career-enriching DocTalks, outdoor programs, book-signings, student programs along with generous cash awards and grants.

Mountainfilm takes place on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded homelands of the Nuchu (Ute) and Pueblo people.

Linda Samarah
The Redford Center

+1 810 618 6458

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