By Sydney Levine | Sydneys Buzz January 3, 2011 at 4:27AM
Making a difference in society calls for more tools than you can find in a documentary film. It calls for vision and creative activism involving marketing, educating and partnering with real people from different walks of life. That's how to build a groundswell.
I am not going to start a series here on DVD distribution benefitting the worthy causes of the subjects of films, but coming on the heels of The Creative Coalition's endeavors, this distributor to the non-theatrical community came my way, and in the interest of a good cause, I am posting it here on the heels of Poliwood and TCC. Both these postings are good case studies for others and both do go with an ongoing series of blogs I began in Cannes called When Are Films Political. The need to mobilize political forces is apparent as our new Tea Party Congress takes its seats. We did it in the 60s; we did it with Obama; we can do it again. Pick your cause, or mine these for creative possibilities for your social issue film. Kickstarter and Indie A Go Go are not the only ways to raise money.
Groundswell Educational Films and our Navajo partners move mountains. Keep on reading. And clicking. In this special Navajo edition you will see hyper links to new videos about an unprecedented clean-up of Cold War uranium contamination on the reservation. Groundswell works for many good causes but today you can contribute to an urgent environmental justice campaign.
Since 2000 when our film, The Return of Navajo Boy, stunned Sundance Film Festival audiences, we have raised sponsorships for Navajo speakers to travel with the film. We advocate for a clean up of radioactive waste from abandoned uranium mines. More than 1,000 abandoned uranium mines continue to impact homes, livestock, land and water across the 25,000 square mile reservation. The Navajo Nation is home to approximately 175,000 people. It holds the largest uranium deposits in the United States and suffers from the highest cancer rates in the Southwest region. In 2005 the tribe banned uranium mining forever.
We are pleased to report that congress has authorized funds for a comprehensive plan to clean up abandoned mines, including the one known as Skyline Mine which impacts the family featured in our film. However, Skyline is only one site out of hundreds. Please help us call attention to all the other sites. We have succeeded in attracting national attention to this issue.
The EPA acknowledges our work in support of one very determined Navajo grandmother, Elsie Mae Begay. The star of our film, Elsie carries the story and her tribe's concerns to colleges across the country and to Capitol Hill. Our methodology works. Groundswell works behind the scenes to connect Navajo speakers such as Elsie to mainstream news media, academia, industry, the EPA and congress. The EPA is now beginning work in her backyard.
We need your support to train and equip more Navajo speakers from impacted areas who want to advocate for their communities.
Your donation will help Groundswell Educational Films provide training and media tools to Navajo correspondents at many other sites so they can be more visible and multiply Elsie's good work.
Spread the word by sharing this newsletter and our Facebook page.
The Return of Navajo Boy is a multi-award winning documentary film that moves audiences to action.
"When people talk about the transforming power of filmmaking, they are usually referring to artistic statements or emotional catharsis, but The Return of Navajo Boy reminds that there is a different kind of power to be found in the moving image. . . .Not only did the film lead to the reunion of the Cly family with the long-lost John Wayne Cly, but it also brought public and legal attention to the issue of uranium mining, a former way of life in Monument Valley that has led to an alarmingly high cancer rate."
-- Chicago Tribune
"Like a finely made rug, The Return of Navajo Boy contains multiple layers of color, construction, and meaning... A must see."
-- Native Peoples Magazine
We appreciate all your support and wish you health and justice in the new year.
-- Jeff & Jennifer
EPA To Clean Up Navajo Family's Backyard in 2011
The Return of Navajo Boy
It's been a long time coming. In September the EPA committed funds to clean up the Skyline mine and all the high level radioactive waste in the backyard of Elsie Begay. More...
Northwestern and Groundswell Build Water Website
The Return of Navajo Boy
Groundswell and Northwestern University's Chemistry Department built a website that offers water quality information from Navajo communities to anyone with an internet connection. More...
Navajo Boy Makes Waves - New Book and French Premiere
The Return of Navajo Boy
This Fall The Return of Navajo Boy screened at several special events in Utah, Illinois; Oregon; Navajo Nation and France! More...
Visit our website at www.groundswellfilms.org