Wednesday, March 21, 2007

America's Lost Landscape: The Tallgrass Prairie

The film America's Lost Landscape: The Tallgrass Prairie will be aired on
many local PBS stations. KTWU in Topeka will air the program on Sunday
April 1. KPTS in Wichita will air the program on April 2 at 1:00 a.m. and
4:00 a.m. and on May 20 at 8:00 p.m. Check with your local public
television station for dates and times in your area.

Press Release---------------

Award-winning film coming to PBS on Sunday, April 1 at 9:00pm CDT America's
Lost Landscape: The Tallgrass Prairie explores America's changing landscape

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The ecology, cultural shift and agricultural revolution
that transformed America's prairies are as complex and intertwined as the
tallgrass prairie ecosystem itself. On April 1, PBS will nationally air the
rich and complex story of one of the most astonishing alterations of nature
in human history with a 9 p.m. CDT broadcast of America's Lost Landscape:
The Tallgrass Prairie.

America's Lost Landscape is a production of New Light Media and was produced
in association with the Tallgrass Prairie Center at the University of
Northern Iowa.

Daryl Smith, University of Northern Iowa biology professor and director of
the UNI Tallgrass Prairie Center, was executive producer of this
award-winning feature-length documentary that traces the prairie's
transformation from natural landscape to farmland. Critically acclaimed
actress Annabeth Gish narrated the film. UNI alumnus and owner of Splice
Here, a full-service post-production company in Minneapolis, Clayton Condit
edited the film.

"Before I became involved in this project, I could only find films that told
part of the tallgrass prairie story," Smith said. "I believe the natural
history, ecology, civic history, cultural perspectives, agricultural use and
prairie preservation, restoration and reconstruction for the future are all
interrelated. As we worked on the film, I became even more convinced that
everyone should know about this vanishing -- or lost -- landscape."

While making the film-festival circuit for America's Lost Landscape: The
Tallgrass Prairie, the film's writer, director and co-producer David
O'Shields of New Light Media found most people, regardless of background or
geographical location, are intrigued by the prairie narrative.

"The remaining remnants of tallgrass prairie are a national treasure, and
are just as important as the tropical rain forests in South America or the
redwoods in California," O'Shields said. "The prairie has a uniqueness and a
stature that's worthy of understanding and appreciation. The reality is that
very few Americans know what a prairie is. They confuse topography of the
plains with the grasses and wildflowers that comprise the tallgrass prairie
ecosystem. I hope viewers will come to understand that the prairie ecosystem
can be a model

an approach to building and maintaining a sustainable civilization -- that
may lead of us out of the environmental mess we find ourselves in today.
Prairie can be a great teacher. All we have to do is listen and act

The film's photography and narrative give viewers a glimpse of what was,
what is and what can be the tallgrass prairie. Smith hopes after the
broadcast, viewers will consider how the prairie fits into our future.

"I want people to become aware of this ecosystem and consider the prairie in
relation to their cultural and biological heritage and be aware of how
little remains," he said. "I take pride in raising the level of prairie
consciousness so more people are interested in protecting and restoring the
prairie. Getting more people involved and making prairie conservation and
restoration a higher priority for our society bode well for the future."

Clayton Condit of Splice Here, the film's editor and a native of the
Midwest, found his involvement in the project to be a consciousness-raising

"To lose the tallgrass prairie is a transformation that happened in an
unbelievable short amount of time and that only emphasizes the impact humans
have on this planet," he said. With global warming and other environmental
issues it as important as ever for people to understand our history and the
scale of the impact we can have - both positive and negative."

Condit enjoyed the challenge of crafting a documentary narrative and the
collaborative approach taken by David O'Shields.

"David is a great director and producer -- very organized. He has a clear
idea of what he wants yet trusted me and everyone at Splice Here to do what
they do best," Condit said. He would give me very thorough notes and
suggestions and then gave me space and time to experiment and help flesh out
his ideas and take some of them even further. The process of editing a
documentary is very much an evolution and discovery process. What sound
bites work together? How can we shuffle the story and images to better tell
the story, etc? David and I worked very well together and came up with a
great piece that we will both be proud of as a major success in our

Annabeth Gish, who lived in Iowa between the ages of 2 and 18, said she is
proud to be a part of this film -- a meditation on the prairie and an
opportunity to educate and advocate for the land on which she spent her
formative years.

"I remember my father and me taking our dog for long walks. Sometimes we'd
go along farm fields, but we also would explore the area's prairies like
UNI's restored prairie. But even then I'm not sure I understood the
significance of the prairie until I worked on this film," Gish said. "The
film gives a transcendent and lyrical voice to the prairie, and I hope
anyone who sees it falls in love with the land."

America's Lost Landscape: The Tallgrass Prairie premiered at a special
showing at UNI in April 2004 and made its Des Moines debut that December. In
March 2005 the film aired on Iowa Public Television during its "Festival
2005" fundraising special. Among numerous screenings and awards, the film
received the International Documentary Association's Pare Lorentz Award in
Los Angeles in 2005 and the CINE Golden Eagle Award in Washington, D.C., in
July 2006.

For more information about the film, and to view the trailer and PBS promo,


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