2017 Sundance Docs in Focus: RANCHER, FARMER, FISHERMAN

rancher farmer fishermanRANCHER, FARMER, FISHERMAN
Directors Susan Froemke and John Hoffman and co-director Beth Aala profile unlikely conservation leaders.

Festival Section:
Documentary Premieres

Special Program:
The New Climate

Sundance Program Description:

Montana rancher Dusty Crary works to preserve pristine, neighboring wilderness, championing efforts to prevent commercial development. Kansas farmer Justin Knopf defies conventional wisdom and implements controversial new practices to combat soil degradation and erosion. And Louisiana commercial fisherman Wayne Werner partners with fisheries regulators to help ensure a future for the red snapper upon which his business depends.

Based on The New York Times best-selling author Miriam Horn’s recent book of the same name, Susan Froemke and John Hoffman’s illuminating film spotlights these unlikely conservationists, stewards of the land and sea who don’t fit preconceptions of environmentalists. Willing to face hostility from within their own communities by forging unexpected alliances with longtime enemies, these individuals show a commitment to work with – rather than against – nature. Driven by core American values of self-sufficiency, independence, and perseverance, they represent a largely unsung, yet passionate, movement of heartland conservationists committed to preserving the future of their livelihoods. In turn, their vital work safeguards the nation’s wealth of natural resources for us all.

Some Background:

Director/Executive Producer:

  • John Hoffman
    Past Sundance docs:

    ALL ABOARD! ROSIE’S FAMILY CRUISE (2006, producer)
    LALEE’S KIN (producer)
    THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE (2000, producer)
    PARAGRAPH 175 (2000, producer)

    Hoffman is EVP of documentaries for Discovery, where he has developed environmental strand Discovery Impact. He previously was a longtime producer at HBO Documentaries, where he won several Emmy Awards.



  • Miriam Horn
    This is the first Sundance credit for the author and Environmental Defense Fund staffer.


  • Alexandra Moss and Jon Bardin
    Moss and Bardon are directors of development and production, documentaries and specials at Discovery. Moss also previously worked at HBO, while Bardin served as a supervising producer for RACING EXTINCTION.

Executive Producer:

  • Dyllan McGee
    This is McGee’s first Sundance credit. The Emmy Award winner is the founder and executive producer of AOL’s MAKERS series.


  • Kathleen Dougherty
    This marks Dougherty’s first Sundance project.

  • Jen Fineran
    Past Sundance docs:


  • Flavia de Souza
    This is de Souza’s first Sundance project. She previously edited the Oscar-nominated doc short OPEN HEART.

Why You Should Watch:
As noted in my Sundance capsule above, the doc’s atypical conservationists offer a different model to reach middle-American audiences who may not be predisposed to pay attention to traditional environmental activists, effectively broadening the message beyond the converted. The film is part of this year’s special environmentally-themed programming, The New Climate.

More Info:
For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance 2017 Twitter list.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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