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Planet Green Launches REEL IMPACT Documentary Block: Weekly TV Premieres of Films About Human Impact on the Planet


--“Reel Impact” Airs Saturdays 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET, Starting Sept. 12 with The Last Beekeeper --
-- World Premiere of acclaimed “No Impact Man” to air in 2010 --

(Silver Spring, Md.) Planet Green, Discovery Communication’s channel and multiplatform destination devoted to the environment, today announced “Reel Impact”, a powerful weekly two-hour block of documentary programming. Set to launch September 12th, the new block will air 8 p.m.-10 p.m. ET Saturdays and will repeat Thursdays at 11 p.m.-1 a.m. ET. It kicks off with the television debut of documentary feature The Last Beekeeper by director Jeremy Simmons. “Reel Impact” will feature an eclectic slate of high-profile films including some world and U.S. premieres such as “No Impact Man” by Laura Gabbert and Eden Wurmfeld, Barbara Ettinger’s film A Sea Change and Black Wave: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez by Robert Cornellier. The strand will also present highly-praised classic films like Leonardo DiCaprio’s The 11th Hour, An Inconvenient Truth and Who Killed the Electric Car?

“The influential films ‘Reel Impact’ brings to the small screen truly illustrate the tremendous impact humans have and how we interact with the planet. These films tap into the emotions of every viewer and will inspire and move them through engaging and provocative storylines,” said Laura Michalchyshyn, President and General Manager of Planet Green. “Whether it’s the perplexing mystery of shrinking bee populations, the poignant journey of a man facing the reality of our future seas, or the rise and fall of this country’s first battery electric vehicle, these documentaries deliver powerful, timely and unique insights.”

In the coming weeks and months, Planet Green will acquire twenty or more additional films to fill this extraordinary slate (airdates TBD). Simulcast in HD, Planet Green’s “Reel Impact” will include the following documentary features:

THE LAST BEEKEEPER Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (World Television Premiere)

Making its television premiere on September 12th at 8 p.m. ET, The Last Beekeeper follows the lives of three commercial beekeepers in South Carolina, Montana, and Washington over a year-long period as they struggle to come to terms with a worldwide shrinking of bee populations. The phenomenon, known as Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD, threatens crops and the food supply as well as the livelihoods of a dwindling number of beekeepers. From the award-winning producing team of Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, the founders of World Wonder, the film documents the beekeepers’ respective pilgrimages, bees and all, to the largest event of the beekeeping year-the massive pollination of California’s almonds. The challenges the beekeepers face due to the declining numbers of these essential insects become painfully and poignantly clear. “If all the bees die, what do you have to live for?” asks beekeeper Matt Hutchens. “It’s not just a question for the beekeepers, it’s a question for all of us.” The Last Beekeeper marks the feature directing debut of Jeremy Simmons.

NO IMPACT MAN: THE DOCUMENTARY Laura Gabbert and Eden Wurmfeld (World Television Premiere -- AIRDATE TBD 2010)
Making its world television debut, No Impact Man: The Documentary chronicles a one-year effort by author Colin Beavan to get off the grid and live in New York City with as little environmental impact as possible. Adding to the challenge, Beavan’s journalist wife, Michelle, their toddler daughter, and the family dog get to go along for the ride, forgoing the comforts of electricity, cars, nonlocal food and even toilet paper, and among other things. The film, from independent producers Laura Gabbert (Getting to Know You, Sunset Story) and Eden Wurmfeld (The Hammer, Puccini for Beginners), premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. In it, Beavan aims to draw attention to a host of pressing environmental crises while attempting to determine if living off the grid adversely affects happiness. Can individual change of this kind be a step toward a systemic change in society as a whole? And is doing one’s part to save the planet worth the discomfort of adapting to life without Saks and Starbucks? Through Oscilloscope, No Impact Man will have its U.S. theatrical debut on September 4th, 2009.

A SEA CHANGE - Barbara Ettinger (World Television Premiere - Airdate TBD)
Director/co-producer Barbara Ettinger asks you to imagine a world without fish. While this may seem inconceivable to some, retired educator and concerned grandfather Sven Huseby (co-producer) fears that such a catastrophe could actually happen. As he sets out aiming to focus public attention on this little-known crisis, he travels to stunning ancestral sites in Norway and Alaska where he finds cutting-edge research on ocean acidification underway. Along the way it becomes clear that dramatic changes in the ocean’s chemistry could pose an urgent threat to our survival, which endangers Sven’s own cultural identity. His journey of self-discovery brings adventure, surprise and an unflinchingly honest look at a reality we all must act on before the oceans are lost for future generations.

BLACK WAVE: THE LEGACY OF EXXON VALDEZ Robert Cornellier (U.S. Television Premiere - Airdate TBD)
On March 24th, 1989, the supertanker Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound dumping millions of gallons of crude oil into a previously pristine environmental area making it the biggest environmental catastrophe in North American history. Instantly the world was captivated by the dramatic photos of the black oil covering animals and beaches, which forced Exxon to launch a spectacular clean-up operation paired with an unprecedented public relations campaign. Only when the journalists had gone home and the public focused on the latest scandal did it become apparent the long-term effects this environmental disaster would truly have. Birds, fish and mammals will eat contaminated food for years to come while certain species, like herring, will never recover which creates a permanent economic crisis for the fisherman of the Sound. Director/writer/producer Robert Cornellier follows Rick Ott and the fisherman of the little town of Cordova, Alaska as they wage the longest legal battle in U.S. history against the world’s most powerful oil company, ExxonMobil, as they look for ways to rebuild their lives and try to find out if corporate values have trumped basic human rights.

THE 11TH HOUR name director Leila Conners Petersen (Cable Network Premiere - Airdate TBD) (produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, Leila Conners Petersen, Chuck Castleberry and Brian Gerber)
Written and directed by Leila Conners Petersen; produced and narrated by actor Leonardo DiCaprio, The 11th Hour describes the last moment when change is possible. It’s a call to action that explores how humanity has arrived at this moment, how we impact the Earth’s ecosystems, and what we can do to change our course. The film features dialogues with experts from around the world, including former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, renowned scientist Stephen Hawking, former head of the CIA R. James Woolsey, and sustainable design experts William McDonough and Bruce Mau. More than 50 leading scientists, thinkers and leaders present the facts and discuss the most important issues that face our planet, proposing potential solutions to environmental catastrophes including a complete rethinking of global human activity through technology, social responsibility, and conservation.

WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR? Chris Paine (Cable Network Premiere - Airdate TBD)
Writer-director Chris Paine weaves together interviews and archival footage of dozens of people involved in the development, limited commercialization, and eventual destruction of the battery electric vehicle known as the General Motors EV1 in the 1990s. The film details the passage of a zero emissions mandate in California to take advantage of the potential air quality benefits of the EV1, and the subsequent reversal of the mandate after lawsuits by automobile manufacturers, the oil industry, and the George W. Bush administration. The EV1 was eliminated from the GM line in 1999.

AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH Davis Guggenheim (Network Premiere - Airdate TBD)
Director Davis Guggenheim eloquently weaves the science of global warming with Mr. Gore’s personal history and lifelong commitment to reversing the effects of global climate change. A longtime advocate for the environment, Gore presents a wide array of facts and information in a thoughtful and compelling way. “Al Gore strips his presentations of politics, laying out the facts for the audience to draw their own conclusions in a charming, funny and engaging style, and by the end has everyone on the edge of their seats, gripped by his haunting message,” said Guggenheim. An Inconvenient Truth is not a story of despair but rather a rallying cry to protect the one earth we all share. “It is now clear that we face a deepening global climate crisis that requires us to act boldly, quickly, and wisely,” said Gore.

GRIZZLY MAN Werner Herzog (Network Premiere - Airdate TBD)
The inside look at the life of Timothy Treadwell, as documented by filmmaker Werner Herzog. Treadwell spent 13 summers in Alaska living with grizzly bears. He spoke their language, knew their moods and survived unarmed among them. But in October 2003, Treadwell and his girlfriend were attacked and eaten by a bear. Herzog investigates the life and death of Treadwell and probes into the complexities of existence between wild nature and human beings. Treadwell started filming his grizzly journey in 1999 and left behind 80 hours of extraordinary footage taken in the wilderness. The footage includes shots taken hours before his death, at the place where his bones were found, and shots of the bear that took his life. Herzog interviews Treadwell’s friends, former lovers and partners, the pilot who dropped him off and who found his remains, and the coroner who opened up the bear.


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