about In the air
In the Air is a feature film in which artists from the Gulf Coast use dance, spoken word, and visual art to tell stories of environmental injustice, survival, and alternative visions for the future.
Directed by John Fiege
What Is Environmental Justice?
Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. This means that all people should have the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, as well as equal access to the decision making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.
United States Environmental Protection Agency
John Fiege (Director/Cinematographer/Producer) is an award-winning filmmaker whose latest film, Above All Else, is a feature-length documentary about the Keystone XL pipeline that premiered at the 2014 SXSW Film Festival, with an international premiere at Hot Docs. The film won Best North American Documentary at the Global Visions Festival and a Special Jury Prize at the Dallas International Film Festival. Mississippi Chicken, his intimate portrait of immigrants working in the poultry industry, was nominated for a Gotham Award for “The Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You” and screened at the Museum of Modern Art. He photographed the 2014 Sundance documentary selection, No No: A Dockumentary.
Christopher Lucas (Producer) is a producer, writer, and educator. He produced Above All Else with John Fiege and Anita Grabowski as well as numerous shorts and commercial projects in collaboration with Fiege Films. He was an associate producer on Living Springs, an interactive environmental documentary about Barton Springs in Austin, Texas. He formerly worked as a studio director at KOBI-TV (NBC). He was awarded a doctorate in media studies from the University of Texas, where he co-founded flowtv.org, a popular site for scholarly media criticism.
Anita Grabowski is a community organizer and campaigns strategist who also produces films in collaboration with her husband, John Fiege. Their first film, Mississippi Chicken, is based on Anita’s years of organizing work in rural Mississippi, where she co-founded a workers’ center to support poultry workers in their battle to improve workplace conditions. She has worked nationally on issues ranging from immigration reform to economic justice and death penalty abolition, and she currently does political advocacy and campaign work around reproductive health and rights.
Jacques Gerard Colimon (Producer) is an award-winning multidisciplinary Haitian-American performer, writer, and documentarian (ICM, Untitled MGMT). A University of Texas at Austin alumnus (BA Theatre & Dance, BS RTF), he is the recipient of the 2015 Austin Critics Table Lead Actor award and the 2016 B. Iden Payne Lead Actor award. He most recently starred in the off-broadway world premiere of Daniel Alexander Jones's DUAT directed by Will Davis at the Connelly Theater with SoHo Rep. Hilton Als of The New Yorker called Jacques a "sexy, knowing scamp." He's alright with that. Other titles in development include Unt Stephen Winter Project and COFĒ.
Shelby Hadden (Associate Producer) is a writer, speaker, and documentary filmmaker whose work explores issues of gender and identity. Her films have screened at various film festivals including the Nashville Film Festival and Sidewalk Film Festival. Her current film, Tightly Wound, is a short animated film about her personal experience with chronic pelvic pain, based on her essay that was published in BUST Magazine. She is a producer at the Austin-based creative agency, Bring Light & Sound, and an associate producer with Fiege Films and Women Rising. She has also been an instructor at the University of Texas at Austin and Austin School of Film. Shelby holds a B.A. Comm. from the University of Alabama and an MFA in Film and Media Production from the University of Texas at Austin.
Leah Marino (Lead Editor) has edited documentaries for 20 years in Austin, TX. She recently completed Motherland (Bayang Ina Mo) about the world’s busiest maternity hospital in Manila, Philippines (Special Jury Award Sundance ’17). Her recent work includes Deborah Esquenazi's Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four (Best First Feature Doc Critics’ Choice Awards, 2016), Robert Byington’s narrative film, 7 Chinese Brothers, starring Jason Schwartzman (premiered SXSW, 2015), and John Fiege’s documentary, Above All Else, (premiered SXSW 2014, Global Visions Jury award). In 2013 she completed Ramona Diaz’s Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey, which won the Independent Lens Audience Award. Her work includes projects on race car drivers, super fund sites, revolutions and civil rights movements. She enjoys helping each film to realize it’s unique story and purpose in the larger world.
Liz Perlman (Editor) is an Austin based editor, producer, and filmmaker who uses compelling storytelling to explore the intersections of social justice, identity, and sexuality. She served as a co-editor + associate producer for Above All Else (SXSW '14) and recently edited Deborah Esquenazi's Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four (Tribeca '16). She edited a short film for the TATE Modern about Scotland's national poet, Jackie Kay, which will screen at TATE's upcoming exhibition featuring queer British Artists. Liz also worked for Bob Byington as an assistant editor for 7 Chinese Brothers (SXSW '15), starring Jason Schwartzman, and as a DIT for his latest feature, Infinity Baby (SXSW '17), starring Nick Offerman + Kieren Culkan.
Robert Bullard is often described as the “father of environmental justice.” His book, Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality is a standard text in the field, and he has authored eighteen books that address sustainable development, environmental racism, urban land use, climate justice, and related topics. He has served as an expert witness in hundreds of civil rights lawsuits and public hearings over the past three decades and won of multiple awards and honors for his leadership in this area, including the Sierra Club’s John Muir Award, and in 2008 was named one of “13 Environmental Leaders of the Century” by Newsweek. He is currently a professor within the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University. Prior to coming to TSU he was founding Director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University.
Heather Houser studies contemporary fiction, the environment, medicine and literature, and new media. Her most recent book is Ecosickness in Contemporary U.S. Fiction: Environment and Affect (Columbia University Press, 2014), and she's currently at work on Environmental Culture of the Infowhelm, a study of how contemporary artworks manage environmental information. Heather is an associate professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin.
Hilton Kelley is a leading figure in the battle for environmental justice on the Texas Gulf Coast, as he fights for communities living in the shadow of polluting industries. He was born and raised on the West Side of Port Arthur and spent many of his early years in the Carver Terrace public housing project on the fence line ofthe Motiva refinery. He worked as an actor and stuntman in California before returning to Port Arthur, where his environmental justice organizing work earned him the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2011.
Aaron Mair of Schenectady, New York, is the president of the Sierra Club's board of directors. An epidemiological-spatial analyst with the New York State Department of Health, Mair's experience includes more than three decades of environmental activism and over 25 years as a Sierra Club volunteer leader, where he has worked diligently for environmental justice.
Anthony Pinn was the first African American to hold an endowed chair at Rice University (Houston) as the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies. He is a leading thinker in liberation theologies, black religious aesthetics, and African American humanism, and director of the Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning (CERCL), an institute committed to fostering greater connections and collaborations between Rice University and the larger Houston community.
Adam Rome teaches environmental history at the University at Buffalo. A leading expert on the history of environmental activism, he is the author of the prizewinning books The Bulldozer in the Countryside: Suburban Sprawl and the Rise of American Environmentalism (2001) and The Genius of Earth Day: How a 1970 Teach-In Unexpectedly Made the First Green Generation (2013). He also is co-editor of Green Capitalism? Business and the Environment in the Twentieth Century (2017).
Dr. Robert Wilson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. Dr. Wilson is a historical geographer and environmental historian and the author of Seeking Refuge: Birds and Landscapes of the Pacific Flyway. His current project, Forging the Climate Movement, examines the demonstrations, organizations, and individuals involved in the North American climate movement.
Jacqui Patterson is the Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program. She currently serves on the Steering Committee for Interfaith Moral Action on Climate, the Advisory Board for Center for Earth Ethics as well as on the Board of Directors for the Institute of the Black World, and the US Climate Action Network. Patterson has also worked as a researcher, program manager, coordinator, and as an advocate and activist for racial justice, and environmental and climate justice. She holds a master's degree in social work from the University of Maryland and a master's degree in public health from John Hopkins University. Some of Patterson's publications include: "Jobs vs. Health: An Unnecessary Dilemma," "Climate Change is a Civil Rights Issue," and "Gulf Oil Drilling Disaster: Gendered Layers of Impact."
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