November 3-5, 2017 · Madison, Wisconsin

2017 Speakers

Schedule Speakers Sponsors

Tales from Planet Earth 2017 is pleased to welcome a tremendous array of speakers from a broad variety of filmmaking, academic, religious, and activist backgrounds. We are grateful to all of them for sharing their insight and enhancing the festival's film offerings.

Peter Boger

Peter Boger
Programming Director, Tales from Planet Earth, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Introducing Charlie's Country, Sunday, November 5, 3 p.m., UW Cinematheque

Peter Boger earned his Ph.D. in environmental studies from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and has been the primary programmer for Tales from Planet Earth since 2009. He first became involved with Tales in 2007, when his student film, In a Badger State of Mind, was one of the festival trailers and later played at the Hazel Wolf Film Festival in Seattle in 2008. 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. He is a visiting lecturer at UW-Madison in history and environmental studies and his research in animal studies and media studies explores the impacts of film and media celebrity on modern American wildlife conservation.


marcos colon

Marcos Colón
Doctoral student, Spanish and Portuguese, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Introducing Land and Shade, Sunday, November 5, 1 p.m., UW Cinematheque

Marcos Colón is a dissertator in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and a Graduate Student Associate of the Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE) of UW-Madison's Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. He is the writer, director and producer of the award-winning film documentary Beyond Fordlândia (2017), an environmental account of Henry Ford's Amazon experience decades after its failure. His research focuses on the representation of the Amazon in 20th-Century Brazilian literature from an environmental studies perspective. In particular, he is examining a variety of viewpoints from the post-rubber era Amazon through written texts, oral reports, and films; observing changes in the region, its nature and its people.


Savi Horne

Savi Horne
Executive Director, Land Loss Prevention Project
Discussing Arc of Justice and Dark Exodus, Saturday, November 4, 2017, 7 p.m., UW Cinematheque

Savi Horne is executive director of the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers, Land Loss Prevention Project, which was founded in 1983. The Land Loss Prevention Project is a non-profit, public interest law firm with an overarching mission of providing legal expertise, community education, and advocacy skills to help farmers and rural landowners who face legal, economic, and environmental challenges. Horne serves on The United States Environmental Protection Agency's National Environmental Justice Advisory Council. She was a co-Team Leader of the Diversity Initiative of the Farm and Food Policy Project (FFPP) that advocated for policy changes in the 2008 federal Farm Bill, the project was facilitated by the Rural Coalition. As a state, regional and national non-governmental organization leader, she has been instrumental in addressing the needs of small and socially-disadvantage farmers.


Leah Horowitz

Leah Horowitz
Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies and Civil Society and Community Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Introducing The Opposition, Sunday, November 5, 7 p.m., The Marquee Theater at Union South

As a critical cultural geographer, Leah Horowitz's research focuses on conflicts over environmental governance, involving local communities, governments at various scales, corporations, non-governmental organizations, and grassroots groups. Ultimately, her work aims to help find ways for all these stakeholders to work together toward environmental conservation. She has addressed these research goals through studies of mining activities and biodiversity conservation, primarily in New Caledonia, Malaysia, and the U.S. Specifically, her research contributes to our understanding of the importance of relationships and networks and the crucial role emotions play within these in enabling and shaping various modes of environmental governance as well as resistance to them. She is currently embarking on a new research project examining American Indian communities’ responses to unconventional fossil fuel development (pipelines carrying tar sands and crude oil, and frack sand mining) in the Midwest.


sara hotchkiss

Sara Hotchkiss
Professor, Botany, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Introducing Mele Murals, Sunday, November 5, 3 p.m., The Marquee Theater at Union South

Sara Hotchkiss studies ecology on time scales that range from decades to tens of thousands of years, comparing observations of modern ecosystems with paleoecological data. Her projects include studies of ecosystem disturbance, climate change, and human-landscape interactions in the Great Lakes region and the Hawaiian Islands. Her work in Hawaii includes the Hawaiian Biocomplexity Project and studies of human eco-dynamics in the Hawaiian ecosystem.


Dylan Bizhikiins Jennings

Dylan Bizhikiins Jennings
Director of Public Information, Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC)
Participating in opening "Land is Life - A Conversation" roundtable, Friday, November 3, 7 p.m., The Marquee Theater at Union South

Bizhikiins is the name that was given to Dylan Jennings. He is a Bad River Tribal member and a UW-Madison Alumnus. In addition, Mr. Jennings is an elected Tribal Council Member for the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe. He is a staunch advocate for education, language preservation and environmental protection. Currently he resides in Odanah, WI and works as the Director of Public Information for the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission. GLIFWC works diligently to help manage treaty protected resources and helps its eleven member tribes to implement their treaty rights. His job requires him to be fluent and up to date with tribal news and issues. He also serves as a writer, photographer and editor for the Mazina'igan newspaper.


Gerald (Jerry) Jondreau

Gerald (Jerry) Jondreau
Director of Recruiting, School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Michigan Technological University
Participating in opening "Land is Life - A Conversation" roundtable, Friday, November 3, 7 p.m., The Marquee Theater at Union South

Jerry Jondreau is the director of recruiting for the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science (SFRES) at the Michigan Technological University. A graduate of Michigan Tech, his area of study includes the linkages between human and environmental health, environmental justice, diversity and inclusivity in the natural resource profession, and Ojibwe language, culture, and knowledge. He is an Ojibwe Indian from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Baraga, Michigan.


Winona LaDuke

Winona LaDuke
Program Director, Honor the Earth
Keynote Speaker and Opening Roundtable: Land is Life, Friday, November 3, 2017, 7 p.m., The Marquee Theater at Union South

Winona LaDuke is an internationally renowned activist working on issues of sustainable development renewable energy and food systems. She lives and works on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota, and is a two-time vice presidential candidate with Ralph Nader for the Green Party. As Program Director of the Honor the Earth, she works nationally and internationally on issues of climate change, renewable energy, and environmental justice with Indigenous communities. She is the founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, one of the largest reservation based non-profit organizations in the country, and a leader in the issues of culturally based sustainable development strategies, renewable energy and food systems. In this work, she also continues national and international work to protect Indigenous plants and heritage foods from patenting and genetic engineering.


Paty Loew

Patty Loew
Professor, Journalism, Northwestern University
Moderating Opening Roundtable: Land is Life, Friday, November 3, 2017, 7 p.m., The Marquee Theater at Union South

Patty Loew is a professor in the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University and director of NU's Center for Native American and Indigenous Research. A former broadcast journalist in public and commercial television, she has produced many documentaries, including Way of the Warrior, which aired nationally on PBS in 2007 and 2011. She is the author of four books: Native People of Wisconsin, which is used by 18,000 Wisconsin school children as a social studies textbook; Teachers Guide to Native People of Wisconsin; Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal; and Seventh Generation Earth Ethics, a collection of biographies of Native American environmental leaders. A member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, her outreach work focuses on Native American youth and digital storytelling.


Sabrina McCormick

Sabrina McCormick
Director, Tribe
Discussing Tribe, Saturday, November 4, 2017, 9 p.m., UW Cinematheque

Sabrina McCormick is a sociologist and filmmaker at George Washington University, who investigates how to motivate climate mitigation and adaptation. Her recent research funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency investigates how and why six U.S. cities act on climate change. She was lead author on the Special Assessment of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change entitled Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. As a Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, McCormick began a long-term research program in climate change and health. She has long worked in the Brazilian Amazon and currently has a research project whose goal is to understand how the political economy of renewable energy development in that region is affecting sustainability for the rainforest and local populations. Her work in this area also includes the development of her first feature narrative film.


Gregg Mitman

Gregg Mitman
Director, The Land Beneath Our Feet
Discussing The Land Beneath our Feet, Sunday, November 5, 2017, 5 p.m., The Marquee Theater at Union South

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. His most recent works include: Documenting the World: Film, Photography, and the Scientific Record (University of Chicago Press, 2016), Breathing Space: How Allergies Shape our Lives and Landscapes (Yale University Press, 2007), and Reel Nature: America's Romance with Wildlife on Film, rev. ed. (University of Washington Press, 2009). He is the founding director of the Nelson Institute's Center for Culture, History and Environment, and is also past president of the American Society for Environmental History.


Reynaldo Morales

Reynaldo Morales
Doctoral Candidate, Education and Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Introducing When Two Worlds Collide, Saturday, November 4, 7 p.m., The Marquee Theater at Union South

Reynaldo Morales was born in Peru, living his first 5 years in the Peruvian Amazonia. He is currently a UW-Madison dissertator, pursuing a joint PhD between the School of Education and the Nelson Institute about the shifts in science and environmental research related to the restoration of Indigenous Knowledge Systems and the protection of Indigenous genetic resources. He worked for 6 years with the Department of Biochemistry, POSOH Project, and the College of Menominee Nation on a USDA grant for science and environmental education incorporating Indigenous Knowledge. He also assisted during the last 5 years in a Tribal Youth Media project and Global Health Field Course. He organized and facilitated an international seminar on "Global Indigeneity and Sustainability" with the Institute for Regional and International Studies. Reynaldo teaches an Ethnic Studies course at UW-Platteville called "The Native American Experience."


Larry Nesper

Larry Nesper
Professor, Anthropology and American Indian Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Introducing A Good Day to Die and Lifting Nets, Sunday, November 5, 1 p.m., The Marquee Theater at Union South

Larry Nesper has been a professor of Anthropology and American Indian Studies at UW-Madison since 2002. He is the author of The Walleye War: The Struggle for Ojibwe Spearfishing and Treaty Rights, University of Nebraska Press, 2002. He has worked as a consultant for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, the Bad River and Lac du Flambeau Tribe. His current research explores the development of tribal courts in Wisconsin and state court-tribal court relations. He teaches courses in American Indian ethnography and ethno-history, Indians of the Western Great Lakes, anthropology of law, and American Indian social and political movements.


Emmanuel Urey

Emmanuel Urey
Doctoral Candidate, Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Discussing The Land Beneath Our Feet, Sunday, November 5, 5 p.m., The Marquee Theater at Union South

Emmanuel Urey was born in a small rural village in Bong County, Liberia. At the age of 13, he, along with his family, fled Liberia for a refugee camp across the border in French Guinea. One year later, he first learned to read and write. Imprisoned by Charles Taylor's rebels while furthering his education in Monrovia, Emmanuel narrowly escaped death. Today, he is pursuing a PhD degree in environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, while helping to advance land reforms in Liberia critical to equitable development.


Alberto Vargas

Alberto Vargas
Associate Director; Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies (LACIS), University of Wisconsin-Madison
Introducing Tribe, Saturday, November 4, 9 p.m., UW Cinematheque

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. In the early 1980s, Alberto helped found the Centro de Investigaciones de Quintana Roo (CIQRO), an eco-development research center in the Mexican Caribbean, a region rich in natural resources that is dominated economically by tourism. He has been an Honorary Fellow with the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies since 1998.


iverson White

Iverson White
Director, Dark Exodus
Discussing Dark Exodus, Saturday, November 4, 2017, 7 p.m., UW Cinematheque

Iverson White has written several award-winning screenplays in his distinguished career. His debut film Dark Exodus aired nationally on PBS and received several major awards for short film, including the Dore Schary Award in 1985 and the Paul Robeson award in 1987. Grants from the NEA, Film in the Cities, and the Wisconsin Arts Board enabled him to finish his first feature-length film, Magic Love, in 1992. He has also received a Rockefeller Fellowship for his short film, The Johnson Girls.


Monica White

Monica White
Assistant Professor, Community and Environmental Sociology and Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Moderating discussion of Dark Exodus and Arc of Justice, Saturday, November 4, 2017, 7 p.m., UW Cinematheque

Monica M. White is an assistant professor of Environmental Justice at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a joint appointment in the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology and is a former Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of African American Studies at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign. Her research engages communities of color and grassroots organizations that are involved in the development of sustainable community food systems as a strategy to respond to issues of hunger and food inaccessibility. She is currently working on her first book, Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement, 1880-2010, which contextualizes new forms of contemporary urban agriculture within the historical legacies of African American farmers who fought to acquire and stay on the land.