What I Did On My Summer Vacation:
My heart goes out to everyone on the East Coast impacted by Hurricane Irene.Â After screening â€œThe River Whyâ€ June 4 at National River Rally, River Networkâ€™s annual conclave, we drove from Charleston, SC to Manchester, VT.Â Such lush and beautiful country the whole trip.
When I saw Vermontâ€™s swollen rivers on the news today, it made me think about my new friends in Manchester, VT – - especially those at the American Museum of Fly Fishing.Â We were back there in early June to attend the opening of â€œA Graceful Rise: Women in Fly Fishing Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrowâ€ .Â It is a gorgeous exhibit that honors the key roles women have played in fly-fishing history and how they continue to inspire anglers today.Â In attendance:Â Joan Wolff, Fanny Krieger, Diana Rudolph, Kathryn Maroun and so many more incredible women.Â They included me and â€œThe River Whyâ€ in the exhibit.Â I keep joking that Iâ€™m now old enough to be a museum artifact, but in truth, I am deeply honored to be part of such an amazing group.Â The exhibit runs through April 2012, so be sure to check it out.
All good wishes to those still wading through the after effects of the storm.
I’ve always wanted “The River Why” to be a part of Active Cinema. In this case, I hope our film inspires our audiences to take care of the rivers it so beautifully highlights.
I just received an email about Clean Water Act Protections from River Network and think it is important to share. I always figure if we don’t take action, who will? Ya can’t just sit around and wait for things to change. Here’s an opportunity to do something that could make a difference:
Support Restoring Clean Water Act Protections for Neglected Waters
This spring, the U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers released the Draft Guidance on Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act. The draft guidance attempts to answer a very critical question — which streams, wetlands and other waters are protected under the Clean Water Act? The guidance attempts to clear up confusion and protection problems following two Supreme Court decisions which muddied the waters on the question of “jurisdiction” or which waters receive Clean Water Act protections from pollution, dredge and fill, and other harmful activities.
This is the first important step to enable the federal government to once again recognize what science and Mother Nature have known for a long time – the waters of the United States are connected. In their announcement, the Obama Administration recognized that all waters of the U.S. (including critical wetlands, small streams and streams that flow part of the year) must be protected if we are truly going to enforce the Clean Water Act.
This guidance is a very important first step but the American public and more specifically, the thousands of river and watershed groups from around the country who are working hard to protect and restore their home waters, must speak up forcefully in favor of a strong guidance document and strong rules to restore these essential protections.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
Please take action today to speak out in support of the draft guidance. The guidance is out for public comment for 60 days, so it can still change for the better or for the worse! Please consider taking two actions:
1) Submit your own comments on the draft guidance.
2) If appropriate, ask the members of your organization to submit comments on the draft guidance – the more voices on this, the better!
The very best comments will include local information about how the issue of Clean Water Act coverage affects people, streams and wetlands in your watershed. More general talking points for your comments could include one or more of the following:
Congress clearly intended to protect these critical water resources when they passed the Clean Water Act nearly 40 years ago.
This action taken by the US. EPA and the Army Corps recognizes a simple fact – the waters of the U.S. are connected and therefore must be protected.
Wrongheaded interpretations of two confusing U.S. Supreme Court in the last decade, have led to the loss of protections for 20 million acres of wetlands and 60% of the stream miles in the United States, effectively gutting much of the intent of the Clean Water Act.
Wetlands act as nature’s kidneys, filtering pollutants and also acting as a natural sponge to soak up excess waters during big precipitation events. Wetland losses make flood events worse, damaging property, endangering lives and impacting myriad business enterprises from agriculture to the recreational tourism industry.
Protecting these wetlands and small stream corridors can help to reduce the impacts of floods like those that we are seeing along the Mississippi River (insert your own river/watershed if flooding is occurring in your area) this spring. Many communities have been able to reduce flooding by restoring wetlands and removing pavement along waterways and river banks. A single acre of wetland can store 1-1.5 million gallons of flood water.
According to a report recently issued by the National Wildlife Federation, “The Upper Mississippi River Basin states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, and Missouri have each lost 85-90 percent of their wetlands and countless headwater streams.” The report continues, “Just a 1 percent loss of a watershed’s wetlands can increase total flood volume by almost 7 percent.”
Comments are due July 1, 2011.
Submit your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and place the Docket Number: Docket ID No. EPA–HQ– OW–2011–0409 in your subject line.
(Note: the email address in the Federal Register notice was wrong…this is the correct email! If you prefer to mail a hard copy, see the Federal Register notice at the first link below for the address and instructions.)
Be sure to check out Amber Heard’s new film, “Drive Angry -3D”. Starring Nicholas Cage, it’s a wild ride and she’s getting great reviews. www.driveangry3d.com
We’re just back from the Sedona International Film Festival and the Geography of Hope Film Festival. All screenings were sold out and we got a great response from the audiences. Both festivals wrap this weekend, so if you’re any where near Sedona, AZ or Point Reyes, CA , I hope you have a chance to go. Great festivals, good people and gorgeous scenery.
And lastly, here’s an interview done during the Mill Valley Film Festival with yours truly:
Using a river as a metaphor for life is nothing new. Many books and films (think A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT) have made use of this strong and compelling image. The winding path of water, sometimes running fast with rapids, other times eddying into quiet pools and lagoons, teaming with a variety of river life, and so on. The potential for symbolism is endless. The new film THE RIVER WHY can safely be added to this long list. Beginning as a slow and thoughtful hodgepodge of philosophical ideas, the movie ultimately becomes a sweet-natured love story.
Zach Gilford (TVs FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS) is Gus, a young man living under the double weight of his father’s minor but overbearing fame as a fisherman & author, and his mother’s constant bickering with his father. When they argue, he says, “it’s not who’s getting the last word, but who’s getting the next word. One day, he decides he’s had enough and leaves to live in his own place by the river, so he can do what he loves: fish. What starts out as an ode to angling, though, soon begins taking detours into the philosophy of religion and life, tossing off lines like, “The way that goes ahead often looks as if it went back.” But after meandering along in its first half like a slow current, this RIVER hits its stride in the second half as the banks narrow, and we even get some rapids (sorry, too much?) as the romance carries the movie to its emotionally satisfying conclusion.
Director Matthew Leutwyler (THE OH IN OHIO, another nice love story driven by offbeat characterization) effectively intercuts the lure and beauty of nature with the fine performances of his excellent cast. Gilford is funny and appealing as the awkward Gus. Veterans William Hurt and Kathleen Quinlan are simply wonderful as his parents, creating memorable characters from small parts that could have easily tipped into caricature. William Devane provides some much-needed humor as a grizzled journalist and fishing enthusiast who befriends Gus. And Amber Heard (literally miles away from her roles in ZOMBIELAND and PINEAPPLE EXPRESS) shines in perhaps the most pivotal role in the film, as the girl of Gus’s dreams. This talented young actress has shown such range in her performances, stardom has to be just around the corner.
Although it may take some patience on the part of the viewer, THE RIVER WHY, like a sunny afternoon spent fishing in a shady pool, will eventually yield its own small rewards.
Three great events coming up this weekend – and three great opportunities in three different places to see the film, greet our star who plays “Gus” , Zach Gilford, meet our director, Matthew Leutwyler and support a good cause.
The filmmakers of “The River Why” donated 25 tickets to veterans from Walter Reed Hospital who are participating in Project Healing Waters so they could see the film when it screens at the Alexandria Film Festival (Virginia), November 6 at 7 pm. Project Healing Waters is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and veterans through fly fishing and fly tying education and outings. For tickets, please go to: http://alexandriafilm.org/schedule/
For Tom and Kristi Denton Cohen, the Mill Valley Film Festival is more than just a cherished hometown event. It’s where they first met in 1983 (she as a volunteer, he as a filmmaker), where they live and where they will finally screen their feature film The River Why, a labor of love that’s taken more than 20 years to reach the screen.
The film is based on David James Duncan’s novel of the same name, a cult favorite ranked 35th on the San Francisco Chronicle’s list of 100 best books about the American West. The story of young fly-fisherman Gus Orviston’s coming-of-age and his quest for self-knowledge on the banks of a remote Oregon river has developed a wide following in the years since the Sierra Club first published it in 1982.
Bringing the novel to the screen has been a passion project for the Cohens for over twenty years.
A director (Hungry I Reunion, 1981) and producer (Massive Retaliation, 1984), Tom Cohen optioned the novel and wrote his first version of a screen adaptation soon after it was published. By the time he and Kristi married in 1987, it was meaningful enough to them both to include lines from the script in their wedding vows.
But a bad economy in the late 80s and the surprise success of another fly-fishing film, A River Runs Through It, in 1992, derailed the project. Tom moved forward with his career as an attorney and Kristi with hers as a director and producer of documentary, corporate and nonprofit films.
In 2002, she directed and co-produced VerticalFrontier (MVFF 2002), a documentary about the history of rock climbing in Yosemite narrated by Tom Brokaw, winning several awards from outdoor and mountain film festivals. Her success with that film encouraged the couple to give The River Why one more shot.
With a revised script co-written by John Jay Osborn, Jr. (The Paper Chase) in hand, Kristi and Tom set about finding an experienced LA-based production company, a strategy she learned from attending a Sundance Independent Producers Conference.
She met Jun Tan, a producer with Ambush Entertainment, at a film industry gathering in San Francisco, and he connected her with LA-based Matthew Leutwyler, a Redwood High School graduate who just happened to have read and loved the novel while spending time in Australia. He came on board as the film’s director.
A stroke of good fortune followed. Academy Award winning actor William Hurt – a fly fisherman himself who lives in Oregon – agreed to a supporting role in the film.
“He’s been absolutely tremendous,” Denton Cohen said. “When people hear that he’s involved with the film, it gives a certain credibility right away.”
Finding a natural outdoorsman to play the role of lead character Gus Orvitson was vital, and the filmmakers recalled an Outside magazine profile of up-and-coming young actor Zach Gilford (Friday Night Lights), who led wilderness adventure trips and counted ice climbing among his hobbies.
“There’s a certain movement that you have in the wilderness that just can’t be faked… it comes through in the body language and the eyes,” Denton Cohen said of Gilford’s comfort in the film’s setting. “Zach had that.”
Production took place in July 2008 on Oregon’s Wilson River and Portland, with a cast that includes William Devane, Amber Heard, and Mill Valley native Kathleen Quinlan, and a crew made up of many Marin-based colleagues.
Denton Cohen felt a strong responsibility to shoot the film in the greenest way possible, not only because of the author’s commitment to the wilderness and the novel’s environmental and naturalist themes, but because she had also become painfully aware of the excessive waste produced on most film shoots.
The producers’ sometimes funny and often frustrating efforts are documented in the short film Greenlit, an enlightening companion piece to The River Why that reveals the many obstacles the filmmakers faced in shooting green.
Although shepherding the film from the page to the screen required over twenty years’ worth of blood, sweat and tears for this Mill Valley couple, Denton Cohen said the struggle has been well worth it.
“If this film makes people stop looking at their handheld devices… just stop and look at a river for a moment, I’ll be happy,” she said. “It’s certainly had its ups and downs, but it’s not just your typical Hollywood film. It takes people to a place they haven’t been before.”
The film had its world premiere at the Dallas International Film Festival in April, but for Denton Cohen and her husband, the hometown screenings here will be “a real celebration… It’s a really good feeling to be here.”
It looks like both the Saturday, October 9, and Thursday, October 14 screenings of “The River Why” are sold out at the Mill Valley Film Festival. There might be tix available if you stand in the rush line.
I’m heading up to beautiful Oregon for the Bend Film Festival and a 3 pm screening on Friday, Oct 8, before coming back for Mill Valley’s screening on Saturday. The Bend Film Fest will also screen TRW on Sunday at the Sisters Movie House at 10 a.m. www.bendfilm.org
Our director, Matthew Leutwyler, can’t make it to the Saturday Mill Valley Film Fest screening , but will be there for the screening on Thursday, October 14. Stop by and say hi.
The following weekend, we have screenings at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis and the Gig Harbor Film festival in Washington state and the Salem Film Festival in Oregon.
The Gig Harbor screening is Friday, Oct 15 at 1: 3o pm. www.gigharborfilmfestival.com
The Salem Film Festival screening is Friday, Oct 15 at 6:30 pm and Monday, October 18 at 3:15. http://www.salemfilmfestival.com/2010/films/features/riverwhy.html
The Heartland Film Festival is October 16 at 7 pm, October 18 at 6 pm, October 19 at 6 pm and October 22 at 8:15 pm.http://www.trulymovingpictures.org/festival-years/2010/movie/the-river-why
And keep an eye out for “Greenlit”, the documentary one of our Executive Producers, Miranda Bailey, directed about our efforts – sometimes more successful than others – to make “The River Why” green. An enlightening and hysterical film. It’s playing at a number of the fall film festivals.
Now, acknowledging there is more to life than coming-of-age love stories with fishing, I have this to say:
Check out this video (featuring Zach Gilford, Kathleen Quinlan, director Matthew Leutwyler,and Screenwriter Tom Cohen) from the Red Carpet Premiere of The River Why at the Dallas International Film Festival.
Note: the cast and crew appear about 5 minutes in.