Montana State University

Festival featuring MSU grad students' films set for Oct. 21

September 18, 2009

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The fifth annual Element Film Festival, featuring films produced by graduate students in Montana State University's award-winning graduate Science and Natural History Filmmaking program, will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, in the Emerson Theater.

This year's lineup includes six locally produced and award-winning movies. Jennifer Grace's "Frog, Chemical, Water, You" addresses worldwide amphibian declines and environmental contaminants. It was commissioned by the Smithsonian Institution and won a 2009 National Student Emmy, Best Newcomer at the 2009 International Wildlife Film Festival, and is a finalist at the 2009 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival.

"Ceiba," by Dawson Dunning was filmed at archaeological sites across Belize and tells the story of wildlife in the Maya creation myth, at the center of which is the Ceiba tree - the bridge between the heavens, earth and the underworld. It won a 2009 bronze TELLY award for Cultural Film and bronze TELLY award for Cinematography.

Stephani Gordon's "Rising Tide" warns that Hawaiian coastal ecosystems are being squeezed between a rising sea level and immobile urban development. It was commissioned by the National Park Service and was awarded a Gold Kahuna award at the Honolulu International Film Festival.

Anne Devereux made "The Receiver" while on a Fulbright Scholarship in Kazakhstan. It is a modern-life tale from the outskirts of the former Soviet Union about a cab driver whose only reprieve from his lonely life is the secret connection he makes with strangers. It was an official selection at three Oscar qualifying film festivals: Aspen Shortsfest, the Athens International Film Festival and the Palm Springs International Film Festival. It also screened at Cannes Short Film Corner.

Composting bins are complex and rich ecosystems that harbor several organisms rarely seen by the naked eye. "Composting Bin: a Human Made Ecosystem" by Federico Pardo is a close-up view of a micro world that humans have created.

Josh Cassidy's "Wheat" profiles Yukiko Naruka, a plant genetics researcher from southern Japan who came to Bozeman to study the most American of grains. "Wheat" is a bilingual, biographic exploration of Yukiko's experience searching for wheat varieties suitable to bring home to Japanese soil.

Doors will open at 6 p.m. for a meet and greet with the filmmakers. Food will be provided by 18 Miles to the Border restaurant and drinks will be available for purchase. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted.

The festival is organized entirely by students and is sponsored by MSU's MFA program in Science and Natural History Filmmaking. For more information, contact the festival committee at Or go to

Jennifer Grace,