Maureen Tunney is an independent film producer whose projects have ranged from commercials and public service announcements to such innovative app content as the “Be My Eyes” campaign, which creates instant communication between blind and sighted partners. She developed her professional skills in an atmosphere of service, beginning with her long association with the Luethi-Peterson International Camps organization, which each summer brings together children from numerous world cultures in several European and North American locations. She has also been a mentor to numerous young people seeking film and media careers, including her own sons. Her involvement with “The Seeds of Vandana Shiva” is a continuation of her strong interest in advocacy for under-represented communities around the world.
A child of the Occupy Wall Street movement, Jeff’s journey to land interviews with Noam Chomsky and Glenn Greenwald sparked his passion for archival research. He has since worked with Academy-Award-nominated filmmakers on documentaries illustrating the stories of activists and athletes from the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and across the Americas. He has provided research for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and The New York Times, and his work has aired on PBS. Jeffrey lives to find the unfindable. Most recently, his deep-dive research on 60 Minutes journalist Mike Wallace provided footage for a film now in competition at Sundance. As a producer, Jeff has worked on films about whistleblowers and drone strike survivors and has consulted for the Chumash indigenous people.
Would you believe it: It’s been four years since we finished our film Sons of Africa and had the idea to tell the life story of Dr. Vandana Shiva.
Yes, filmmaking takes time! And The Seeds of Vandana Shiva is taking great shape.
Here’s why you haven’t heard from us lately: We are deeply immersed in sourcing archival footage and photographs, listening to music to inspire a score, fact checking, cleaning up dialogue—all consuming and important work that is hard to report about when you’re busy doing it. We remain grateful to everyone who has supported this leg of the journey.
But today we’re abandoning all that and hitting the road! First stop, Santa Rosa, California. Vandana is speaking at the inspiring and colorful Heirloom Seed Expo, and if you’re in the area, we encourage you to attend. She’s appearing on a panel with Robert Kennedy Jr., on the issue of glyphosate (the main ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp) that has been named as a probable carcinogen by the W.H.O. Next she’s addressing the tension between our seed supply and corporate interests, as well as the Care What You Wear campaign about how our clothing purchases can impact an ecologically toxic and unjust garment industry.
On the evening of September 6 Vandana will open the Soil Not Oil conference, a powerful three-day event featuring artists, activists and academics sharing new information on regenerative agriculture and the social-ecological health of the earth. The conference was inspired by her book, Soil Not Oil, a must-read in this era of obvious (and heart-rending) climate disasters.
At the end of the month we’re attending the Regeneration International General Assembly at Rancho Via Organica in Mexico. We look forward to filming and connecting with partners and allies to discuss plans for the film’s distribution.
And in case we again get caught up in editing and neglect to write to you before November, we must alert you to the Pathway To Paris Concert (Carnegie Hall, New York, November 5) featuring a line up of amazing musicians—Patti Smith, Michael Stipe, Flea, Talib Kweli, Tanya Tagaq, Tenzin Choegyal—plus words of wisdom by Bill McKibbon (350.org) and Vandana Shiva! More than ever now, it’s all about climate change. Food systems play a huge part, not only causing up to 50% of the problem, but also offering solutions to solve it. OK, we admit it. For this one we can’t wait.
BTW: Our cover picture, taken by Pramod Kamothi at Dr. Shiva’s Navdanya farm features seed keeper and farmer Sheela Godial with an abundant harvest of fox tail millet, a nutritious but forgotten heritage crop being restored at the farm.
The Water Protectors at Standing Rock are very much on our minds.
Of course we’re celebrating the news that the Army Corps of Engineers has denied Energy Transfer Partners permits to continue construction through Lake Oahe, but we are still donating supplies and sending prayers of support.
Why? Hundreds of waterways are still under threat, the pipeline investors have issued a statement that they’ll proceed anyway, and the incoming US President—a financial stakeholder—has made it quite clear where he stands on the issue. It’s not over yet.
We can’t help but draw parallels with the stand-off in North Dakota and an historic event in The Seeds of Vandana Shiva. We want to share that story with you because despite seemingly insurmountable odds, in time the peaceful protestors prevailed.
We’re talking about Chipko—the historic Tree-Hugging movement—that began in the Himalayan forests where Vandana grew up. In 1973, a small group of indigenous tribal women rose up in non-violent resistance to the reckless deforestation of their ancestral homes. Rampant commercial logging was destroying their lives, including the soil and water on which they depended.
Just as the First Americans at Standing Rock today stand between their precious water and DAPL construction crews, the women of Chipko stood between their precious trees and the logging machines. A young Vandana Shiva played a key role, communicating in English what was happening to the outside world.
Here’s a short clip from a rough-cut of the film to give you an impression:
Think about it: Without the Internet, cell phones, video cameras or social media, a motley resistance started by a small group of women grew into an international movement that became a precedent for non-violent protest across the globe.
In the end Prime Minister Indira Gandhi issued a state order that banned logging in the Himalayas. Better yet, this was followed by programs to restore ecological health to the forests and waterways.
The Tree Huggers prevailed. The Water Protectors can too.