Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Learn about the future of education with the Women’s Resource Agency

Posted By on Tue, Dec 13, 2016 at 12:58 PM

The Women’s Resource Agency, an Indy Give! nonprofit, works with women in the Pikes Peak Region to empower them for success. For some, that means providing interview and employment clothing or training in necessary job skills. But the process can also start much earlier than that.
  • Shutterstock
WRA also provides school-based programs, saying on their website, “Encouraging teen girls to complete high school is important because dropouts earn lower wages than graduates, which can become a barrier to long-term self-sufficiency. We value girls and seek to build a community that values girls as full participants.”

Since WRA has a vested interest in education, they’re hosting a film screening tonight, which relates to the education of students of all backgrounds. This collection of media resources from NOVA’s School of the Future examines the science of learning and how technological advancements in education are changing the landscape.

School of the Future seeks to answer the question, “how can the science of learning help us rethink the future of education for all children?” which is a relevant topic for parents, students, educators and community members who value educational advancement.

The event is donation-based and includes pizza and a cash bar. All donations will benefit WRA’s Give! campaign. Doors open at 5 p.m. with the film and discussion starting at 5:30 p.m. in the MacKenzie Place Theater, 1605 Elm Creek View.

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Embrace screening is a-go thanks to local support

Posted By on Fri, Nov 11, 2016 at 9:28 AM

In case you need some good news today, Embrace — the documentary about body image that we covered recently — has officially sold enough tickets for Gathr Films to green-light a local screening. Local energy healer Marah Armijo helped set it up, and local ticket pre-sales made it happen.

You go, Colorado Springs.

Quick refresher: Embrace is a film by Taryn Brumfitt, an Australian mother of three who suffered from negative body image after having children. She tried and succeeded in attaining the “perfect” body, but realized along the way that she needed to start thinking differently about the beauty standards society pushes on women and girls.

Considering 91 percent of American women say they are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting, films like this that encourage self-love are more important than ever.

The screening is officially set to take place at Interquest Stadium 14, 11250 Rampart Hill View, 7:30 p.m. this coming Wednesday. Purchase your tickets early; as of this writing there are 136 seats available, but that’s likely to change fast.

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Friday, March 18, 2016

UPDATE: Help fund A Voice for Lil Olive

Posted By on Fri, Mar 18, 2016 at 10:10 AM

Come on, how can you resist that face? - COURTESY SHELTER ISLAND FILMS
  • Courtesy Shelter Island Films
  • Come on, how can you resist that face?
Fundraising for A Voice for Lil Olive has now surpassed $55,000, as Pete Schuermann and crew opted to extend the deadline on their Indiegogo campaign. 

Here's how that decision was made, according to Kirsten Akens:
 Late yesterday the folks at Indiegogo reached out and encouraged us to extend our campaign for another two weeks. They feel strongly that with a little extra time we can meet, and perhaps even surpass, our initial goal of $85,000. They evaluated our current campaign site, and made suggestions on how we can not only improve upon it but attract new audiences. This seems to be quite unusual in the realm of crowd funding so we took their overture seriously, and after much discussion, decided to go ahead and extend our campaign through March 31.


Local filmmaker Pete Schuermann is preparing to make his next documentary film, called A Voice for Lil Olive
We reported on Schuermann's last big effort, The Creep Behind the Camera, between 2010 and 2014. 

This time around, the filmmaker has rallied a small celebrity group around the topic of puppy mills

Presently, there's two days left in an Indiegogo campaign that seeks to raise $85,000 toward the initial costs of what's projected to be a $485,000 film. As of this writing, just over $41,000 has been collected. 

Here's a little more on what Schuermann and crew are up to via Indy contributing writer and former copy editor Kirsten Akens who is acting as both a writer and producer for the film: 
It’s a film that will be based on the story of a puppy mill survivor named Lil Olive, with the intent of being the definitive documentary on puppy mills. In a similar vein to a documentary like “Super Size Me,” which through education and consumer pressure brought changes to the menus at McDonald’s, we hope to bring some major shifts in the commercial breeding of dogs that happens through puppy mills.

We have an amazing professional team working on this film, and we’ve already got four celebrities behind us (officially at least, a few others are in various stages of negotiations — we’re always looking to add more!): Patrick Fabian, from Better Call Saul; Laurel Harris, from Odd Thomas; for The X-Files fans, William B. Davis, aka The Smoking Man; and Golden Globe winner Linda Blair, who also founded the WorldHeart Foundation, an animal rescue organization in California. And the awesome Danielle Ate the Sandwich has been doing original music for us. 
And a teaser trailer:

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Legendary critics to invade Colorado

Posted By on Wed, Jan 6, 2016 at 10:34 AM

Everybody’s a music critic. Well, thankfully, not everyone. But two of the profession's best and brightest, Greil Marcus and Nat Hentoff, will be appearing on the Front Range’s cultural radar over the next two months.

First up is Marcus, who will be giving a free lecture on January 28 at Colorado College’s Gaylord Hall.

The author is perhaps best known for Mystery Train, his extremely erudite cultural history of rock 'n' roll. A former reviews editor at Rolling Stone, he’s written for publications ranging from Creem to Artforum. Real Life Rock, a compendium of his columns of the same name, was published last year by Yale University Press.

Meanwhile, the renowned Nat Hentoff will be making an appearance — albeit a strictly cinematic one — as part of Denver’s 20th Annual Jewish Film Festival

The Pleasures of Being Out of Step, a biography about the former Village Voice jazz critic and accomplished civil libertarian activist, will screen February 20. Filmmaker David L. Lewis will be in attendance.
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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Free screening of Brian Wilson biopic Thursday

Posted By on Wed, Sep 16, 2015 at 3:52 PM

Paul Dano as Brian Wilson in 'Love and Mercy'
  • Paul Dano as Brian Wilson in 'Love and Mercy'

Due to a licensing agreement, our friends over at the Independent Film Society of Colorado are unable to reveal the actual title of the mystery film they'll be screening for free Thursday night.

They are, however, able to tell us that the film is about "Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson's struggle with emerging psychosis as he attempts to craft his avant-garde pop masterpiece."

Coincidentally, the film Love and Mercy, released earlier this summer, is also about Brian Wilson's struggle with emerging psychosis as he attempts to craft his avant-garde pop masterpiece.

So maybe Thursday night's mystery movie is Love and Mercy. Or maybe its just some very obscure Kurosawa film. Either way, it'll screen tomorrow night at 7 p.m. in the Tim Gill Center for Public Media at 315 E. Costilla St.

Meanwhile, you can also read our interview with Love and Mercy's music director Darian Sahanaja here.
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Saturday, September 5, 2015

Netflix Picks: Hot Girls Wanted

Posted By on Sat, Sep 5, 2015 at 11:37 AM

  • Screenshot
In a better world, sex work would be just another kind of job like retail or insurance. In that world, the young women in the 2015 Netflix original Hot Girls Wanted would still be going into a competitive market with high turnover, surrounded by a toxic company culture to boot. But throw in the stigma of being an adult-film star, and it's no surprise that Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus' documentary is an uneasy look into the world of porn. 

As a backbone, the movie follows Tressa Silguero, 18, a young woman from small-town Texas. To get a taste of freedom, Silguero answers an ad on Craigslist looking for would-be porn stars, offering a free flight to Miami. She takes the deal and meets her agent/leaser, Riley Reynolds, owner/operator of Hussie Models, and another new actress, Rachel Bernard a.k.a. Ava Taylor.

Silguero adopts the name Stella May for herself. Outside of shooting, they act like newly-free young adults do — they eat fast food late at night, they smoke weed and they enjoy themselves thoroughly. 

When Silguero returns home, though, not all is well. Her mother, concerned and unhappy, gives her a chance to tell her father what she's doing. She never does. And at first, her boyfriend, Kendall, is fine with her job. After a party where his friends talk about pulling up her videos, he becomes concerned and insecure, comparing her work to prostitution.

Work is getting worse as well. She's not catching as many eyes as Bernard or housemate Lucy Tyler. To keep ahead of her bills — she and her fellow actresses pay for their own rent, STD testing, underwear and transportation after Reynolds takes his fee — Silguero starts taking gigs she's not comfortable with before an intervention during a visit home gives her the will to leave the industry. 

Hot Girls has a very deliberate tone. The house in Miami is all glamour at first, but each time we return, it appears just another trashy outpost of the Miami suburbs. Indeed, Miami starts as this glitzy, Neverland dream that devolves into a gritty reality for Silguero.

Bauer and Gradus explore some unsettling themes in pornography. They start with porn-viewing statistics — porn sites collectively get more page views than amazon and twitter combined — and they claim that "teen" is the most-searched term in porn worldwide. Models Silguero and Bernard's age rarely last more than a year in the industry. Most burn out after three or four months.

And of course, the film delves into the popularity of abuse and degradation in the industry, with the models they follow so often ending up on sites with names like "Latina abuse" or "exploited teens," both of which sound more like charity causes than masturbation fodder. Degradation as a risk-aware consensual kink is one thing, but when an estimated 40 percent of porn sites promote degradation, as noted in the film, it feels more like an expectation than a niche.

So here's my reservation about Hot Girls Wanted. For all the archival footage and focus on different characters, the movie undercuts its own emotional punch with weak storytelling. The production team stayed invisible during the shooting — all of their voice shows up in post-production. At no point do they prod the situation they're filming to get explanations.

And instead of character depth, we get facts about the industry and a camera that shies away, letting sound and the edge of the video sell the shock that should be self-evident. By contrast, the scenes of Silguero's life in Texas come across as sickly sweet and almost patronizing, leaving the movie with a clumsy emotional impact that dilutes any point the film may have.

But it's still worth watching. Hot Girls Wanted is an interesting look into a dog-eat-dog industry. If any of this is news, don't wait — watch Hot Girls Wanted now.

Congratulations, you're one movie closer to justifying that $8.99 a month.
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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Netflix Picks: The Ref

Posted By on Sun, Aug 30, 2015 at 12:59 PM

The 1990s was a weird decade. The president was an enthusiastic saxophone player. Divorce and crime were world-changing epidemics, despite both being on the decline. The Computers were just starting to become something for everyone. And it was acceptable to release a home invasion comedy that took place at Christmas partway through March (never you mind reviewing it in August). Yes, Ted Demme's 1994 film The Ref is vulgar, sarcastic and loud. But the acting is superb and, after all is said and done, it has a happy ending that feels more real than it has any right to.

Meet Lloyd and Caroline Chasseur (Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis). They're a rich couple in a small Connecticut town. And they hate each other. Caroline recently moved from half-finishing art classes to infidelity, and she wants a divorce. Lloyd nitpicks and undermines everything she says – he's both critical and emotionally unavailable. And their marriage counselor, Dr. Wong (B. D. Wong), can't keep them under control long enough to do them any good. 

Enter Gus (Denis Leary), a burglar on the run after a heist gone wrong. He takes the couple hostage while his partner, Murray (Richard Bright), secures a boat. Gus hates how Lloyd and Caroline live and behave – they can't even stop fighting at the end of a gun – but the state police are hunting him, so he's stuck until Murray secures a ride. But it's Christmas Eve, and Lloyd's family is coming for dinner from Boston.

Lloyd's family is a piece of work. His brother, Gary (Adam LeFevre) is a marshmallow in appearance and attitude, and his wife, Connie (Christine Baranski), treats their kids and everyone else terribly. But the star of the show is Rose (Glynis Johns), Lloyd's mother. Every sentence out of her mouth insults and undermines someone in her presence, but she's the one with the money, so her kids kowtow to her.

This movie runs on actor chemistry and comedic timing. Spacey, as anyone who has seen The Usual Suspects or Se7en can tell you, was a noteworthy character actor, even before gigs like House of Cards finally lionized him. His character arc is grounded at both ends, and he sells his increasing willingness to be vulnerable the whole way through. Davis plays up Caroline's swings from callous to wounded, giving the character a genuine dynamic. But when they finally open up, they become relatable, especially next to their awful relatives.

Speaking of, Johns' character is made to be hated – she's the bogeyman mother-in-law everyone fears when a relationship gets serious. For fans of Arrested Development, she's like Jessica Walter's character without the warmth, and Johns kills it.

Of course, it's the '90s, so the humor is lurid and weird in places. We go from synchronized swearing to grotesque spoken imagery to cartoon-grade slapstick all in the first ten minutes. A rottweiler chews a billiards ball into cracker crumbs, for crying out loud — the kind of tonal whiplash that kills modern movies.

I think part of this movie's appeal, though, is that it combines Home Alone levels of preposterous with adult humor and situations. If I'm honest, it's Home Alone for adults, subbing the burglars for relatives. The payoff is an airing of grievances and a resolution to do better. In the end, Lloyd and Caroline haven't fixed anything, but they're in a place they can work from. It's a plausible ending from characters who feel real and genuine.

Congratulations, you're one movie closer to justifying that $8.99 a month.
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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Local director makes bad look good

Posted By on Tue, Aug 4, 2015 at 6:01 PM


As much as people love describing Ed Wood’s goofy 1959 classic, Plan 9 From Outer Space, as THE worst science fiction film of all time, Vic Savage’s decidedly less charming The Creeping Terror, released five years later, was far worse.

So it’s only fitting that both directors’ exploits have generated their own twisted biopics.

First came Tim Burton's Ed Wood. Now comes local writer/director Peter Schuermann’s The Creep Behind the Camera, which was released today through numerous video-on-demand and pay-per-view services, including Comcast, DirecTV and The Dish.

Schuermann’s film began making the rounds on the festival circuit last fall, earning praise from the likes of Gremlins director Joe Dante and the creators of Mystery Science Theatre 3000.

In fact, later this month, Shout Factory TV will be including an extended trailer for The Creep Behind the Camera as bonus material on its release of the MST3K’s “Creeping Terror” episode.

Meanwhile, you can get your very own high-definition version of the film through iTunes here. You'll also find an Indy interview with the director here.

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Netfilx Picks: Exit Through the Gift Shop

Posted By on Sun, Jul 26, 2015 at 7:46 AM

  • Screenshot
Exit Through the Gift Shop is sold in summary as a movie about British street artist Banksy turning the camera on a would-be documentary filmmaker Thierry Guetta. But it's more than that. The 2010 film is, according to Banksy, a “street art disaster film.” And as far as disasters go, Guetta is fascinating.

Guetta is a Frenchman,a small business owner and an obsessive cameraman living in LA. He records everything; his camera is practically a limb.

On a visit to Paris, Guetta discovers that his cousin is a street artist named Space Invader. The ephemeral nature of street art captures Guetta's instincts, and over the course of many years, he films his way through the West Coast street art scene, claiming to make a documentary. Space Invader introduces him to Shepherd Fairey, who later made the iconic Obama “Hope” poster.

Through Fairey, Guetta befriends street art's man of mystery, Banksy. Soon after, street art becomes a commodity, and Banksy asks Guetta to finish his documentary to show the real story. The result, Life Remote Control, was 90 minutes of unwatchable crap. So in order to buy himself time to make a watchable movie, Banksy tells Guetta to go away and make art in LA.

Guetta mortgages his entire life and pushes the commercialization of street art to the point of absurdity, adopting the alias Mr. Brainwash. In the end, Guetta puts on a gigantic art show to popular reviews, making over a million dollars in the process. Banksy and Fairey lament their roles in Guetta's rise to prominence, even as they're still bewildered.

Guetta is a fascinating figure. In one moment, he's this wounded kid who was at school when his mother died, forever obsessed with capturing the world around him. In the next, he's this charming megalomaniac who only sort of understands what art is for. He comes across as the sort of person who has never stopped and asked himself why he's doing what he's doing. But he did genuinely earn the trust of Banksy and Fairey – he was loyal to a fault.

While what we see of LRC is wholly unwatchable, Banksy augments Guetta's material with interviews and news footage, producing a genuinely good documentary. Guetta's footage is raw, sometimes strange, but the pleasant voice-over narration and interviews put it in context. When Banksy gives his interviews, he hangs around like this weird specter; the way he presents himself gives him the gravity his reputation demands, though he speaks casually.

The most important part is that the sense of danger in street art isn't lost. Guetta films several run-ins with police over the course of the movie. He and his subjects climb out of windows and scurry across roofs constantly. One of the best segments takes place when Banksy and Guetta set up a piece of anti-Gitmo art at Disneyland. When a coaster stops on the track, partway through the ride, it's a perfect “Oh, shit” moment.

Though Banksy has since insisted that everything in the film is “100% true,” it's still a questionable film. Guetta is in no way objective; he actively helps the people he's filming. And Banksy built his way to fame through, let's be honest, criminal activities. A lot of the film is unverifiable. But making his audience ask difficult questions about who they can trust, what is real, what is important, etc. is a big part of what Banksy does.

Exit Through the Gift Shop is at the very least an interesting look at what constitutes art and what kind of person constitutes an artist. There are plenty of layers and challenging conversations for the viewer who really wants to dig in, but it's still bearable for anyone who just wants to watch a darn movie. (By my reckoning, that makes it good art.)

Congratulations, you're one movie closer to justifying that $8.99 a month.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Former local teacher makes documentary on education

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2015 at 8:19 PM

Laurie Gabriel decided to make a film about why she quit her job. - COURTESY LAURIE GABRIEL
  • Courtesy Laurie Gabriel
  • Laurie Gabriel decided to make a film about why she quit her job.

Veteran teacher Laurie Gabriel, who spent part of her career in Colorado Springs School District 11, has created a documentary about why she left the profession.

Gabriel taught orchestra, choir and drama during her 27 years as an educator. She quit five years ago due to what she calls a federal and corporate takeover of public schools. Specifically, she says her students were crying and vomiting at the prospect of more standardized tests. 

"You just don't hear enough about it," she says. "Teachers are afraid to say anything."

In addition to having problems with the tests themselves, Gabriel says she was told to ignore slower kids in her class and to focus her energy on high-performing kids. She says she was working until 7 p.m. doing paperwork that no one read. Because of that, she had to cancel after-school clubs and tutoring.

She now has a private orchestra and does music therapy.

Her film, Heal Our Schools, explores ways in which schools could improve if teachers were given more freedom to tailor their lessons to their students, had smaller class sizes, and were free from standardized testing.

The movie will be showing at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 2111 Carlton Ave., at 7 p.m. on Friday, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday. A third showing will take place at Graner School of Music, 4460 Barnes Road, at 3 p.m. on June 13. The cost is $7. Seats can be reserved at 213-6850.
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Monday, March 2, 2015

Jupiter Ascending: The next big thing ... or not

Posted By on Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 12:59 PM

Jupiter Ascending, in theaters now, is a film that has nice visuals but lacks depth. It builds itself up as epic. You could say it is epic in a sense — an epic failure.

When the first trailer was released, people got excited about what seemed like the next big space opera. Eye-catching graphics, rich story-worlds and intriguing characters. But you’re only as good as your word. And Jupiter Ascending failed to follow through, being rife with problems. Not everything about Jupiter Ascending is terrible. It's bursting with potential. Yet it manages to miss the marks of a great or even good film.


Jupiter Ascending
follows housemaid Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) who discovers she’s royalty but that her life’s on the line. She’s “rescued” by a trained hunter (Channing Tatum) who whisks her away to safety. She must fight to protect herself and Earth as she knows it.

This goes downhill. The characters are mere puppets. They travel from place to place without much explanation, making it a struggle for the audience to keep up.

The villains’ goal is to kill the heroine so they can rule Earth. The heroine has some motivation, initially just to get home, since she’s whiny and weak, but she decides to save the world as an afterthought.

It gets worse. Being subtle about what someone wants is one matter. Sometimes it’s more powerful when hinted at, allowing people to think it through. However, characters go from undeveloped to disappearing from the film after introductions that make them seem important, so there are bigger flaws in the story.

The whole film, in an attempt to be complex yet engaging, ends up convoluted. It’s not that it has too many characters but too many major ones. None are done justice within adequate screen time. Despite many directions Jupiter Ascending could take, just when it gets interesting, it goes on a tangent. It’s almost as if the filmmakers had multiple budding ideas. Somewhere along the way they grew bored before the ideas had a chance to blossom. Instead of cutting out these fillers to replace them with better, or just different, concepts, they sloppily left them with no place or purpose. The stuff of writers’ nightmares: a plant without a payoff.

One would think that given the pushed-back release date to handle special effects, the filmmakers would have noticed and fixed more pressing issues like everything wrong with the plot line and character development. But apparently, appealing films is all that matters to Hollywood these days.

One positive element about Jupiter Ascending is eye candy, from graphics to costumes to pretty faces that fans love to see. That at least it got right. What it got wrong was everything else. If the most that can be said about a film is how it looks, that’s saying very little. In this technological age, graphics are not challenging. Long gone are the days when big filmmakers valued lovable characters and a good story.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Coming: Two film screenings about wild horses

Posted By on Wed, Sep 17, 2014 at 2:41 PM

  • American Mustang

For those who have followed the plight of wild horses in the American west, here are two chances to learn more about the animals, and how the Bureau of Land Management works to keep the population down, to much controversy.

(We covered it locally, here and here.)

The first, Roaming Wild, can only happen if enough people sign up to attend the screening by the end of today. Should it get the required RSVPs, it will screen Thurs., Oct. 2 at Chapel Hills 13 Theaters (1770 Briargate Blvd. #15).

This 2014 film follows a wild herd, as well as three characters with differing opinions on solutions for handling the horses. "Ultimately, this film is meant to encourage dialogue by presenting real solutions to the question of wild horse management," says its website.

The other film, American Mustang, reached its goal and will screen Wed., Sept. 24, 6 p.m. at Cinemark Tinseltown (1545 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd.) Released last year, American Mustang shows footage of BLM horse round-ups, but in a way that isn't stomach churning, according to the Denver Post.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

UPDATE: Join the Cowspiracy

Posted By on Wed, Sep 3, 2014 at 10:31 AM

The group organizing the Colorado Springs Cowspiracy screening has met its goal for ticket sales, meaning the film will for sure run on Thursday, Sept. 18. 

As of earlier this morning, only 23 tickets remained until the screening sells out. 


The Colorado Springs Vegan & Vegetarian Group and Vegan Society of Colorado Springs currently need the help of around 50 folks in order to bring a showing of the 90-minute documentary film Cowpsiracy: The Sustainability Secret to town. 

The groups are hosting a Tugg campaign with the hopes of a Thursday, Sept. 18 showing at 6:30 p.m. at Cinemark Carefree Circle; tickets are $12. (They need 82 tickets total sold by Sept. 11.) 

Here's the film synopsis: 
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is a groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary following an intrepid filmmaker as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today – and investigates why the world's leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it. As eye-opening as Blackfish and as inspiring as An Inconvenient Truth, this shocking yet humorous documentary reveals the absolutely devastating environmental impact large-scale factory farming has on our planet.
And the trailer:


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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Meet The Rescuers

Posted By on Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 3:43 PM

In our Simplicity column this week, we look at the civic and culinary act of gleaning: the scrounging of unharvested food or food destined for waste. 

As part of that story, we mention the good work of the Colorado Springs Food Rescue. I just learned that former Indy intern Jeremy Flood produced a short documentary on the group. It's called The Rescuers, and you can check it out below. 

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Barring a lawsuit, 800 wild horses to be rounded up in Wyoming

Posted By on Mon, Aug 4, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Rosellen Westerhoff's "Running with Cloud," now on display at Cottonwood.
  • Rosellen Westerhoff's "Running with Cloud," now on display at Cottonwood.
In this week's issue, Bret Wright spoke to Ginger Kathrens, executive director of the Cloud Foundation, an advocacy group for wild horses. With Kathrens' help, along with that of gallery owner and artist Tracy Miller, an exhibit devoted to wild horses opened at Cottonwood Center for the Arts.

Kathrens, a local filmmaker whose efforts have appeared on Nature, will also screen her latest installment of a series of documentaries she's made following wild horses in Montana, on Wednesday, Aug. 6, at 7 p.m. at the Tim Gill Center for Public Media (315 E. Costilla St.).

As Kathrens told Wright, wild horses are regularly rounded up by the Bureau of Land Management, due to overpopulation. However, Kathrens and her kind find their methods questionable and their round-up practices cruel.

On Aug. 1, the Cloud Foundation, along with the American Wild Horses Preservation Campaign and Return to Freedom filed a lawsuit in federal court in Wyoming to block the BLM's planned round-up on Aug. 20 to gather 800 horses from the Wyoming Checkerboard area, in the southwestern quadrant of the state. They will be removed permanently.

The suit alleges the BLM violated the National Environmental Protection Act, the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.

“The BLM’s decision to move forward without any opportunity for public review or comment on such a drastic action is a blatant slap in the face to the American public and the Democratic process,” Kathrens says in a press release. “Losing these wild horse families so that private livestock interests can continue to make money at taxpayer expense is truly disgusting.”

Linked in the release (below) is an 2013 in-depth article from The Atlantic about this particular population in the Checkerboard, and, how, as the article states, "The Consent Decree reads like a capitulation by the feds. It does nothing to protect the horses or to recognize that the ranchers receive enormous financial benefits from the below-market leasing rates on public land."

Or, to put it more bluntly, how "the Department of the Interior sold out America's wild horses."

Lawsuit Filed to Halt BLM’s Scheduled Wild Horse Roundup on the Wyoming Checkerboard

Scheduled roundup would permanently remove all wild horses on 1.2 million acres.

CHEYENNE, WY (August 1, 2014) – The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), The Cloud Foundation, and Return to Freedom today filed a lawsuit in federal court in Wyoming to block the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from rounding up over 800 wild horses from the Adobe Town, Salt Wells and Divide Basin Herd Management Areas (HMAs) in the southwestern part of the state.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court of Wyoming by the public interest law firm Meyer Glitzenstein and Crystal, alleges that the BLM violated the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act (Wild Horse Act), and the Administrative Procedure Act, by authorizing the permanent removal of hundreds of wild horses from public and private lands within these three HMAs, known as the Wyoming Checkerboard. BLM has authorized this large-scale roundup of wild horses from public land in Wyoming without conducting any environmental analysis, without engaging the public during the decision-making process, and without making certain statutorily required determinations under the Wild Horse Act.

“BLM’s plan to roundup over 800 wild horses from Wyoming is an egregious violation of federal law and established procedures for public input,” said Suzanne Roy, AWHPC director. “In proceeding with this roundup, the agency is blatantly placing ranching special interests over the interests of the American public and our federally-protected wild horses on public land.”

“The BLM’s decision to move forward without any opportunity for public review or comment on such a drastic action is a blatant slap in the face to the American public and the Democratic process,” states Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation. “Losing these wild horse families so that private livestock interests can continue to make money at taxpayer expense is truly disgusting.”

“If this roundup is allowed to proceed, it will be the beginning of the end for half of Wyoming’s remaining wild horses,” said Neda DeMayo, founder and president of Return to Freedom. “This is just another complacent surrender of the BLM to pressure from livestock ranchers, a convenient tactic to proceed with wild horse eradication.”

Carol Walker, plaintiff in the case and Wild Horse Freedom Federation board member said,” BLM is primed and ready to annihilate wild horse families in the Adobe Town HMA despite the fact that the vast majority of these horses do not even live in the Checkerboard.” The noted photographer and author went on to say, “the horses would not have a chance if this action goes forward. They’ll be destined to a life of incarceration and the American public will lose an iconic symbol of freedom and independence.”

BLM is justifying its decision by claiming the agency is required under a consent decree with the Rock Springs Grazing Association to conduct this roundup. This consent decree resulted from a lawsuit that the Interior Department invited and then settled by capitulating to the rancher’s demands – the elimination of wild horses from the Wyoming checkerboard. Nothing in that agreement, however, authorizes BLM to violate the multiple federal statutes and regulations that govern the permanent removal of federally protected wild horses from public land.

AWHPC and The Cloud Foundation were intervenors in the Rock Springs Grazing Association litigation that resulted in the Consent Decree, and have been fighting BLM’s implementation of the decree since that time. The groups are asking the court to stop the roundup, which is scheduled to begin on August 20.

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