Our YOUTH v GOV film team has been documenting the youth stories behind Kelsey Juliana v. the United States of America since 2016. We are currently in production, with a planned release in 2020.
YOUTH v GOV FILM TEAM
An Emmy-award winning cinematographer with a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and an MS in Microbiology, Christi communicates complex issues through storytelling and visual narrative to create human connection and impact around the most pressing issues of our time. She left a successful academic and research career in Europe to obtain an MFA in Science & Natural History Filmmaking (graduate thesis: Contemporary Advocacy Filmmaking: Campaigns for Change). In 2011, Christi co-created Stories of TRUST: Calling for Climate Recovery, a 10-part documentary series featuring youth plaintiffs suing their state governments over climate change, with WITNESS, a social justice/human rights organization focused on using film for social change. The campaign was used to reach decision-makers and judges who were ruling on climate litigation brought to the courts by young people. Her film awards include Wildscreen’s Panda Award for Best Campaign Film, Best Environmental Film from Backcountry Film Fesetival, Best Youth Film from Colorado Environmental Film Festival, and Best Made in Montana from the International Wildlife Film Festival, among others. Christi is the inaugural SFFilm/Vulcan Productions Environmental Film Fellow and the first Jacob Burns Film Center Focus on Nature Artist-in-Resident.
Olivia Ahnemann has been producing and directing documentary films for nearly 20 years. Most recently, she produced The Human Element featuring James Balog, which premiered at the San Francisco International Film Festival in 2018 and was distributed by The Orchard. Previously she produced Under the Gun with director Stephanie Soechtig, which premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, and was distributed by EPIX/Lionsgate. And, Racing Extinction with director Louie Psihoyos, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, and was distributed by Discovery. In 2016, Olivia was nominated for an Emmy Award for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Film Making. Olivia was co-producer of The Cove, which has garnered over 70 awards globally, including the 2009 Academy Award for best documentary and the Producers Guild of America documentary award. The film brought worldwide attention to the annual dolphin drives in Taiji, Japan and high levels of mercury in seafood, man’s primary source of protein.
Dennis Aig is the producer of the feature documentary Unbranded, which has been distributed internationally in theaters and through broadcast and online platforms and has received to date awards and honors, including the Audience Awards at HotDocs, Banff Mountain and Telluride MountainFilm Festivals. He is also the producer of the recently acclaimed feature documentary Charged. A veteran of over 25 years of university teaching and administration, as well as professional media production, Dennis has produced, directed, and/or production managed media in many genres, including dramatic features, documentaries, music videos, commercials, podcasts, and reality television shows. He has worked with many companies and organizations, including The Walt Disney Company, Columbia Pictures, National Geographic, and the National Science Foundation. His work has received over 100 major awards and honors. He earned his PhD at The Ohio State University. A Montana State University Professor of Film since 1989, he became the head of the University’s much-praised MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking in 2007 and served as Director of the School of Film and Photography from 2013 to 2016.
Liz Smith’s work focuses on using media to create measurable impact and systemic change. She has screened films at festivals around the world, including winning Best of Category at the International Wildlife Film Festival for a film she produced at NASA Goddard. As the Director & COO of Conservation Media Group, a non-profit funder of impact-driven media, she designed the Catalyst Workshops to train filmmakers and non-profits working on ocean and energy issues, like supporting 350.org’s efforts to keep fossil fuels in the ground. She’s spent more than a cumulative year at sea producing media aboard research vessels in the Pacific, Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Gulf of Mexico. She has explored 2,000-year-old shipwrecks, searched for Amelia Earhart, and joined Dr. Robert Ballard for search and recovery operations off the Syrian coast. She’s been a Fulbright Specialist and holds an MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking.
STEVEN HOGGARD | WRITER
Steve has gathered stories with impact from across the planet. His work has taken him from the mass graves of Srebrenica to hacker conventions in Vegas. Along the way, he’s chronicles everything from combat in Afghanistan to kids in post-Katrina New Orleans struggling to reach their dreams. He has spent the past two decades honing his craft to tackle each of these stories with the unflinching honesty and creativity they deserve. Together with his partner they have produced and created more than 100 full-length documentaries, numerous short doc message films and nearly 20 non-fiction television series. Clients range from National Geographic, PBS, NBC & Discovery Networks to BBC, UK Channel 4, and Rockefeller Foundation. His productions have earned numerous awards, including two Emmy nominations and one Emmy win.
TONY HALE | EDITOR
Tony Hale has been editing documentary films since 2005. He is deeply motivated by the ways cinema can shed light on critical issues and champion untold and under-told stories, and he is passionate about how the power of editing can bring these non-fiction stories to life. His feature-length work includes A Will for the Woods (2014, co-editor/co-director), Charged: The Eduardo Garcia Story (2017), Afghan Cycles (2018) and The Story of Plastic (2019). His films have won awards at festivals such as Full Frame and Seattle International, screened at Hot Docs, AFI DOCS, Mountainfilm, Camden, and many more; and played nationally in the US on PBS. His short film work includes several environmental justice and conservation documentaries, dozens of campaigns for nonprofits, an Emmy-winning TV special, and films published by The New York Times and The New Yorker.
LYMAN SMITH | EDITOR
Lyman’s work has appeared in festivals across the globe from Sundance to Tribeca to Telluride as well as Cannes, Paris, and Frankfurt. The efficacy of his approach to the craft has also helped to launch successful documentary programs on a variety of television networks including IFC, BBC, CNN, National Geographic Channel and The Discovery Channel, and his work has appeared before the UN General Assembly. With a particular interest in environmental issues and social justice, Lyman views every film as an opportunity to inspire audiences for the sake of a greater good.
CONSULTANTS & ADVISORS
HEATHER SMITH | CONSULTING IMPACT PRODUCER
Heather Smith is an independent consultant, working as a political and philanthropic advisor to individual donors and foundations. With expertise in democracy reform, cultural movements, and civic engagement - and a long history of working on democracy and youth voting in the US and around the world - Heather helps her clients leverage their assets to further bold, positive social change in our world. Additionally, Heather is senior advisor to Our Children’s Earth (OCE) Foundation and the OCE Film Fund, which invests in documentary films addressing issues of environmental conservation and human rights. Heather served on the Board of Directors of Rock the Vote, after nearly 8 years as the organization’s President. While at Rock the Vote, she ran the largest non-partisan voter engagement efforts in the country and launched a national high school civics program.
KELLY MATHESON|CONSULTING PRODUCER
Kelly Matheson is a human rights attorney and award-winning filmmaker who leads WITNESS’ Video as Evidence program. She has worked with grassroots organizations around the world on a myriad of human rights issues ranging from Ebola prevention to climate change to the trafficking of children and war crimes. Currently, she supports lawyers and human rights activists to ensure the video that activists risk their personal safety to collect can be used to secure justice. She received her JD for the University of Oregon School of Law and her MFA in Filmmaking from Montana State University.