Bigger Picture: How Mississippi activists inspired a SF audience

I’d like to share with you one of my favorite green moments of 2014 and ask you to be a part of making many more special moments in 2015.

At this year’s Festival, a man got up on stage and brought the house down. Those in the crowd who weren’t crying, were cheering so loudly in standing ovation that the panel discussion took some time to begin.

Come_Hell_or_High_Water_Turkey_Creek_WEB.jpgThe man was Derrick Evans, a changemaker whose story had just unfolded on-screen in Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek, a stunning documentary from Bay Area filmmaker Leah Mahan, about tireless and creative advocates protecting the culture and ecology of their small town on the Gulf Coast.

I first met Leah and Derrick in 2011 at a work-in-progress screening and I knew we had to bring their story to our SFGFF audience. In 2014, the film was complete and fit perfectly into our focus on Water in the West. We swung into action to shape a compelling program for the SF Premiere that matched the dedication of Leah and Derrick.

Take_Action_onscreen_slides_3_med.jpgWe knew that to do this, we had to bring Derrick to the Festival and to honor Leah with our 2014 Green Tenacity Award. Donors to our Filmmaker Fund made it happen. For Derrick and Leah’s screening, your donations meant that we had extra funds for guest travel and accommodation this year.

In the moment as the titles rolled, Derrick’s story of personal struggle for environmental justice in rural Mississippi had profoundly moved people here in the theater in San Francisco. Having him there to share his story and hear ours was awe-inspiring.

Roxie_audience_by_Tommy_Lau.jpegAt this screening, I saw the impact of breaking global environmental stories locally. There are many Turkey Creeks. The film of one small community battling to save their land, their watershed and their history, became the emblem of campaigns and communities across the country and here in the Bay Area as we all urgently try to build a more sustainable world.

I believe that relevant and compelling films such as this are the catalysts for change. But, more than just watching films, it’s when we come together to share ideas, make connections, and take action, that such stories have a unique power.

Leah_Mahan_Award.jpgThis year, it’s not surprising to me that 80% of attendees said they have been inspired to take action or change something. This was just one moment at one screening. There were many more this year at screenings of 64 handpicked films with over 90 speakers.

Now, we need your help to continue to deliver more programs and bring storytellers and changemakers to local audiences to celebrate our 5th year. Help us build the green movement in 2015.

100% of your donation goes directly to our programs. Yes, every cent of your donation goes directly towards program costs, due to generous support from Foundations for SFGFF’s general operations.

Together we can use the power of film to bring Bay Area residents into the global conversation on what it means to live sustainably.

Donate now and help us create many more moments like this in 2015.

Rachel Caplan
Founder & CEO, SF Green Film Festival


From our series of Festival Success Stories, sharing with you different perspectives on how your donations are making a difference.

Photo at top by Leah Mahan; All other photos by Tommy Lau.