Inform, enlighten and inspire

Taos Environmental Film Festival to screen 38 important films over four days


Tempo interviewed a handful of Taos filmmakers, activists, photographers and writers to get their take on being involved with the Taos Environmental Film Festival, which begins its four-day run Wednesday (Sept. 27).

While all film screenings, most of which are full length features, will be at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, one event with photographers and writers will take place at the SOMOS Salon, 108 Civic Plaza Drive.

Peter Walker is a Taos filmmaker and media instructor at the University of New Mexico-Taos. His 10-minute piece, titled “Ode to Standing Rock,” kicks off the film festival. He edited footage from more than a dozen “Water Protectors” who were on the front line at Standing Rock. “I was inspired to create a positive story of indigenous people standing up for clean water and human dignity. It is a short water film. I wanted to show others. We are also praying for water in our own places,” Walker says.

Lyla Johnston, who provides the poetic narration for Walker’s film, says, “After watching the ode, I hope it inspires Taoseños to simply try. When less than 10 people gathered around a sacred fire in Standing Rock, back before anyone knew what or where Standing Rock was, they were facing multibillion-dollar industry that sought to profit from the destruction of what Creator had made. They knew this was not right, and even though it seemed that by worldly standards they stood no chance, they still stood. They still lit their fire. They still laid down their prayer. And for their courage, the whole world is forever changed. We must try. We do not have to be perfect. But in this time, we must defeat our fear of failure and simply step out and try ­­– and try with all our might.”

Author Jim O’Donnell is part of the trio of writers appearing at SOMOS. He will present on how he uses his photography to influence conservation. “Right now, I’m working on a big project with the Western Environmental Law Center and Amigos Bravos to get special designation for a number of high-altitude wetlands that are rare and serve a lot of functions,” he says.

Photographer Bill Davis has lived in Taos for 48 years. His presentation will be of a slightly different sort – as most of his pictures date back 20 to 30 years. “I focus on the way Taos was at one time,” he says. “I’m going to talk about that and how the environment around here is changing.”

William DeBuys is a prominent author who lives in the village of El Valle. This year, he received New Mexico’s 2017 Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. He is part of the premier event, which is the showing of “The Colorado” on Thursday, Sept. 28.

“The Colorado” is directed by Murat Eyuboglu from New York. DeBuys wrote the script and served as a general adviser on the film. Both Eyubogul and DeBuys will be on hand to take questions from the audience after the screening of this unique musical documentary, which runs for 90 minutes. The New York Times called it “visually captivating and unsettling.”

When asked to summarize the film, DeBuys says, “I think it’s a celebration of the beauty and the complexity of the river and the human communities along it.”

DeBuys acknowledges that Taoseños tend to be drawn to issues affecting the Río Grande.

“There are parallels between the two rivers,” DeBuys says. “The Río [Grande] is as tightly controlled as the Colorado. The Río Grande’s future, with climate change, is greatly diminished flows.”

Jean Stevens, executive director of the Taos Environmental Film Festival and a filmmaker herself, said, “These are the top filmmakers who are making statements through the art of film for the environment. This year is by far the biggest. We have 29 short films. These are people who are using film to make positive changes in the world – which we can take out into our community.”

All events are free, but donations are encouraged to benefit Amigos Bravos, Rivers & Birds, Taos Fall Arts Festival, Taos Land Trust and Western Environmental Law Center.

Visit for the entire listing of films, as well as their reviews, awards at other film festivals, trailers and filmmaker biographies. Call Taos Community Auditorium at (575) 758-2052 or SOMOS at (575) 758-0081.

 Taos Environmental Film Festival Schedule

Unless otherwise noted, all events take place at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Most are feature length films.

Wednesday (Sept. 27), 10 a.m. “Ode to Standing Rock;” “Coral Reef Adventures;” and “Groundswell”

Wednesday (Sept. 27), 7 p.m. “Photography & Writers” with Bill Davis, John Nichols, and Jim O’Donnell. Note: This event will take place at SOMOS, 108 Civic Plaza Drive.

Thursday (Sept. 28), 10 a.m. “Reefs at Risk” and “Chasing Coral.”

Thursday (Sept. 28), 7 p.m. “The Colorado,” followed by Q&A with the filmmaker

Sept. 29, 10 a.m. “Before the Flood” and “Seed: The Untold Story”

Sept. 29, 6 p.m. Wild & Scenic Film Festival Shorts, Program 1

Sept. 29, 8 p.m. Wild & Scenic Film Festival Shorts, Program 2

Sept. 30, No film festival events scheduled

Oct. 1, 6 p.m. “Chasing Coral”

Oct. 1, 8 p.m. “Pursuit of Silence”