Film, panel presentations focus on climate change activism |

Film, panel presentations focus on climate change activism

Submitted to Prospector

The film "Bidder 70," a documentary about climate change activist Tim DeChristopher, will be screened in Grass Valley Saturday. DeChristopher acted to save wilderness areas in Utah from drilling by bidding to acquire parcels at an oil and gas lease auction.

The theme of the evening, simply put, is that one person's actions can make a difference, and one person plus the support of a community can make an even bigger difference. A number of local residents know DeChristopher because he has attended the Wild and Scenic Film Festival in Nevada City, according to organizers.

The film will be shown at 6 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains. Following the film, there will be a panel that includes people who know DeChristopher, attended his trial and visited him in prison.

Panelists will include:

— Debra Weistar, co-director of Finding the Good

— Annabelle Ziegenhagen, Finding the Good alum and former intern

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— Andrew Collins-Anderson, stewardship coordinator for the South Yuba River Citizens League

— Emily Zionts, global issues teacher for Woolman Semester School.

The event will begin at 4:30 p.m. with an art show and reception. The show is an installation of fiber art sculpture by artists of Radical Art For These Times that illustrates true stories from the history of environmental direct action. Titled "When They Felt the Call to Defend the Earth," the exhibit includes a diorama featuring Tim DeChristopher.

The evening will close with a special ceremony. DeChristopher is scheduled to be released April 21.

"Once in a while, someone comes along that totally wows you. That's how we felt when we read about Tim DeChristopher," said filmmakers Beth and George Gage. "As bidder No. 70, DeChristopher bid $1.8 million and saved 22,000 acres of pristine wilderness with no intention to pay or drill. No property was destroyed, no one was hurt, and valid concerns were raised over the entire federal oil and gas leasing process … 'Bidder 70' was a story we had to tell."

"Bidder 70" follows DeChristopher, a University of Utah student, who on Dec. 19, 2008, in an act of civil disobedience, disrupted the outgoing Bush administration's illegal Bureau of Land Management oil and gas auction.

Then Feb. 9, 2009, the new Obama administration's secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar, agreed on the significance of the auctioned parcels and invalidated the entire auction because of the land's "proximity to landscapes of national significance." Nevertheless, on April Fools' Day, DeChristopher was indicted on two federal felonies with penalties of up to 10 years in prison and fines of $750,000.

People outraged at his indictment and delighted with his monkey-wrenching quickly turned DeChristopher into a climate justice folk hero. The film follows DeChristopher as he navigates the legal system during two years and nine trial postponements. With the threat of prison looming, DeChristopher steps up his activism and matures into a charismatic, ingenious and non-violent climate justice leader. For information, call Carol Ann Jones at 530-277-2894.

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