students to show shorts at film festival

As an educator, filmmaker and member of the Six Nations Mohawk tribe Northland College’s 2015 William P. Van Evera lecturer-in-residence Paulette Moore is eager to bring her relationship to the Great Lakes full circle.

She’s planning to do this by collaborating with Northland College students to create a thirty-minute documentary, called “From Wisconsin with Love,” celebrating the Lake Superior region’s bountiful harvest, including wild rice, and traditional life ways.

The documentary will portray all aspects of the harvest season including the spiritual, economic, physical and legal aspects, while incorporating the flavor and faces of the communities in the region.

Eight students with be showing a collection of short segments at the Big Water Film Festival opening night at Northland College Alvord Theatre Thursday, November 5 at 7 p.m.

The student films include: Wild Rice by Axel Peterman, Manoomin by Dane Hildebrandt, Mino Aki by Meghan Vondriska, Forage by Nathan Peltier, Clearcut by Desi Leavans and Brieanna Draganowski, and Harvest by Marissa Olsen and Jasmin Solberg.

“We’re going to profile the harvest as an example of a relationship with the Earth, as opposed to an extractive relationship,” Moore explained. “We’re looking at harvest as a solution and as a new model about how we should be treating each other.”

All of the footage from the sequences and likely some of the sequences themselves will be part of “From Wisconsin With Love,” which will be made next semester, Moore said.

“The audience will be watching filmmaking in progress. We want to play with the footage, find the story we want to tell, while the students are learning their craft,” she said. 

Moore has spent two decades based in Washington DC working as a director, producer and writer with Discovery Channel, National Geographic, PBS, ABC and other media outlets. However, Moore believes this project is undoubtedly the “biggest, most important story” she has told.

Moore is teaching three classes: Introduction to Video, Art for Societal Change and Social Media Applications. Ultimately, Moore hopes to educate students about the influence media and art forms have on perceptions, lifestyles and community. She will introduce ideas from of her PhD dissertation titled “Cinema Ecology and the Body Resisted,” which she will complete during her time at Northland College.

“The premise is that blockbuster films and much of mainstream media ‘resists’ the body through editing and filming practices—cutting out decay, hesitation, process, death, imperfection—even breathing,” Moore explained. “In my courses at Northland we’ll explore this theory and ways to honor or embrace the body in the context of media, rather than resist or deny it.”

Moore’s relationship with Lake Superior started out as a long distance one. Working as an associate professor of media arts and peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, Moore met Northland College alumna Danielle Taylor (‘98), who had established the blog, Voices of the Penokee Hills, detailing the development of taconite mining in the Penokee Hills, located near Northland College in northern Wisconsin.

In 2014, Moore paid a visit to the Harvest Education Learning Project otherwise known as Harvest Camp—a camp of individuals committed to traditional Anishinabe ways and community education about the impacts of the proposed mine. Her experience at Harvest Camp, located in the Penokee Hills, would set the course for the next phase of her life and career.

This visit inspired her to collaborate with her students at Eastern Mennonite University to create “To Wisconsin with Love,” highlighting the environmental and cultural threats of taconite mining in the Lake Superior watershed.

“What I saw there was the story of our time,” said Moore. “I felt it represented the biggest issues of our day. What I saw was about extraction and contamination, but also about resilience and envisioning. It wasn’t just a resistance camp, it was about exploring new ideas of economy and giving people a space to be in touch with the natural world around them.”

In a way, she believes this documentary will bring her relationship to the Lake and her heritage full circle.

“I’m from Lake Ontario, I’m living on Lake Superior and these lakes are so important,” Moore explained.

By “listening to a place” and telling the stories of the Lake Superior region’s harvest, Moore hopes all of her work at Northland College and “From Wisconsin with Love” will serve as a roadmap to humane and conscious communities, attuned to the messages of the land.

“Because she (the Earth) speaks so loudly,” Moore said.

Amber Mullen, a 2012 graduate of Northland College, is a freelance journalist. She is the author of this article. 

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