In our lands we trust
The documentary film Public Trust will have its Montana theatrical premiere on Sept. 1 at 8:55 pm (gates open at 7:45 pm) at the Amusement Park Drive-In in Billings.
In America, there are 640 million acres of public lands and waters – held in trust for the benefit of all citizens. These wild places are intrinsic to our national identity, offer a solution to mitigate the climate crisis, provide habitat to animals large and small, and offer the most magnificent landscapes in the world.
Through the work of Montana investigative journalist Hal Herring, Public Trust focuses on three land-based conflicts—the slashing of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah; the potential permanent destruction of the Boundary Waters Wilderness in Minnesota; and the sale of one of the last wild places in America, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Since it was signed into law over 100 years ago by President Teddy Roosevelt, every president except three - Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush – has used their authority established under the Antiquities Act to protect public lands and waters. And despite increased polarization on nearly every issue, there is widespread bipartisan support for public lands and waters. According to a 2019 Conservation in the West poll, more than two-thirds of voters in Western states, a majority of Democrats and Republicans, think Congress should emphasize conservation on public lands.
“Our country is fortunate to have millions of acres of public lands, including National Parks, Monuments, Wildlife Refuges and Wilderness set aside for future generations,” Executive Producer Robert Redford said. “Sadly, these lands that belong to you and me are under unprecedented threats from the greed of big corporations, eager to weaken restrictions in the pursuit of profits. Many of our current politicians are also to blame. Public Trust, tells the story of citizens who are fighting back. It’s a much-needed wake-up call for all of us who want to preserve our unique and wild cultural heritage.“
Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard said, “Imagine our country without our public lands - without protected parks and streams, wilderness and other wild places. If the oil companies and this administration continue to choose rigs over your kids’ future, we will lose what’s left of our shared 640 million acres. Public Trust is a must see for everyone who enjoys spending time in wild places.”
Using extensive research and interviews with tribal leaders, government whistleblowers, journalists, and historians, Public Trust follows the people who are fighting back and the forces they are up against. Along the way, we meet the heroic activists who are defending the land from corrupt interests including: Angelo Baca, a Native American activist working to protect Bears Ears; Bernadette Dimientieff, a mother, grandmother, and executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee an organization formed to protect the Arctic Wildlife Refuge; and Spencer Shaver, a fierce defender of the Boundary Waters Wilderness where he grew up hunting and fishing. These stories bring us from the past and speak to the uncertain future of our public lands.
Directed by David Garrett Byars and produced by Jeremy Rubingh, Public Trust had its world premiere and won the Big Sky Award at the 2020 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula, Montana on President’s Day. Public Trust received the Audience Choice Award at the 2020 Mountainfilm in Telluride, Colorado and won the Audience Award at the 2020 Ashland Independent Film Festival in Ashland, Oregon.