American Masters Documents the Beginning of Environmental Activism
American Masters presents the first big-picture exploration of the environmental movement in A Fierce Green Fire, premiering on KUED Tuesday, April 22 at 8:00 in honor of Earth Day. The one-hour documentary chronicles one of the largest movements of the 20th century, and one of the keys to the 21st. Written, directed and produced by Academy Award-nominee Mark Kitchell (Berkeley in the Sixties), American Masters: A Fierce Green Fire spans 50 years of grassroots and global activism from the 1960s-2009 and connects the major causes of environmentalism, from conservation to climate change. Narrated by Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Ashley Judd, Van Jones and Isabel Allende, the film premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and has won acclaim worldwide.
Inspired by the book of the same name by environmental journalist and film interviewee Philip Shabecoff, and informed by advisors like conservation biologist E.O. Wilson, A Fierce Green Fire unfolds in five acts, each with a central story and character, featuring vivid archival footage and new interviews that shed light on the battle for a living planet. The first four acts include success stories of people fighting for causes against enormous odds, and the fifth concludes with climate change.
The film’s title is derived from pioneering ecologist Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac (1949), which describes his awakening after shooting a wolf while working as a U.S. Forest Service ranger: “We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes.”
“The environmental movement is the biggest movement the world has ever seen, yet so broad and diffuse that we lack a larger sense of what it was about,” explains Kitchell. “A Fierce Green Fire is meant to take stock, explore the historical meaning, where we’ve come from and where we’re heading. A hugely ambitious undertaking, it has proved to be the greatest challenge of my career.”