The Reel Nature Sidebar

Last year, the Reel Nature series of the Film Fest was very much
a “side” bar — all of its screenings were at the Museum of Natural
History, which is decidedly off the fest’s downtown circuit. This
year, much to series coordinator and accomplished nature filmmaker
Mike deGruy’s joy, the Reel Nature sidebar is very much integrated
into the downtown scene — in addition to all of the nightly
screenings taking place at the regular fest venues, even the second
annual presentation of the Attenborough Award for Excellence in
Nature Filmmaking (to James Cameron, see page 53) is taking place
close to State Street, at the Marjorie Luke.

That’s not to say that the museum is taking a backseat, however,
as deGruy attests that the entire series is very much the product
of a team effort with museum staffers Sheila Cushman and Jeff
Barber. Plus, from Tuesday through Friday, buses will deliver 350
county schoolkids twice daily to the museum for a special 3-d
screening of Cameron’s Aliens of the Deep. Considering that 2,800
kids will come through, the museum might even be busier than last

In addition to the kid stuff and the award presentation,
deGruy’s proud of the panel he’s assembled for a chat on Saturday,
February 4, at 2 p.m. With deGruy as a moderator, nature filmmaking
will get a thorough once-over by such formidable vets as Phil
Fairclough (producer of Grizzly Man), Howard and Michelle Hall
(creators of numerous popular nature films), and Keenan Smart (head
of the National Geographic Channel’s natural history unit).

Oh yes, the films. This year’s original theme was Exploration,
according to deGruy, but it was refined instead to be Nature on the
Big Screen. As such, nightly screenings will include March of the
Penguins and Grizzly Man as well as to-be-classics such as Queen of
Trees (about a fig tree, a wasp, and an ecosystem), Deep Blue (a
film-length version of the Blue Planet television series), Bug
World (a glimpse at the insects of your home), and Animal Olympics
(a comedic John Downer flick). There’s also a night of Devil’s
Teeth (a 10-minute short about urchin diving amid great whites at
the Farallon Islands) paired with Dolphins: Deep Thinkers (about
the intelligence of that species). And thanks to deGruy’s tireless
effort, each of the screenings will be followed by a Q&A with
the respective filmmakers or producers.

Not bad for a volunteer effort with no corporate sponsorship,


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