About this program

Conservation, celebration and discovery are central themes to this series of nature-inspired documentary shorts.

AFTER THE FILM: The post-film conversation following both screenings will include several of the directors of the documentary shorts.

The program features the following short films:

‘Open Water’

Open Water shows what it feels like to swim across the largest freshwater lake in the world. It follows 61-year-old open-water swimmer Marilyn Korzekwa as she attempts to be the first person to ever complete a crossing of the eastern end of Lake Superior, from Michigan to Ontario. Directed by Kalli Anderson.

Oshkigin Spirit of Fire 

Not all fire is bad. That is the message in this short film that explores Native people’s tradition of using controlled burns to cultivate land, build communities and preserve natural forests. Current laws restricting this activity have changed both the environment in the Upper Midwest and the culture of Native Tribes. Directed by Tom Deschenes and Andrew Bydlon.

‘Season of Rebirth’ 

Even as a pandemic raged around them, a photographer and a group of poets drew inspiration from the season of rebirth. Directed by Brian Kaufman.

Ne Notoca Kiauitzin (My Name is Little Rain) 

This immersive short film is inspired by the journey of Detroit-based artist Kia I’x Arriaga, who uses her Aztec traditions to connect the present to the past through dance, art, music, performance and storytelling. Directed by Eden Sabolboro.

Forty Gallons: A Visit to the Detroit Sugarbush 

Getting Black and Brown Detroiters to fall in love with nature is a mission and passion for Antonio Rafael, who works with groups like the Detroit Indigenous People’s Alliance, Black to the Land and the National Wildlife Federation to provide opportunities to connect with the outdoors. One example is the Sugarbush, the indigenous practice of extracting sap from maple trees to produce maple syrup. Directed by Nina Ignaczak, Planet Detroit.

Pheasants of Detroit 

This is a celebration of the unofficial city bird of Detroit, the ring-necked pheasant. These birds, typically known as a rural farmland species, are thriving in the open spaces of Detroit. Join everyday Detroiters in a walk around the city as we hear pheasant stories and see the funky birds at home in their urban element. Directed by Diane Cheklich and Diane Weiss.

‘Made in the Mitten’ 

On December 25, 1965, amidst the blustery winds and sand dunes of Muskegon, Sherman Poppen made history by strapping two skis together and sending his young daughter careening down his backyard hill. His invention, soon dubbed the Snurfer, laid the foundation for snowboarding as we know it. Directed by Zeppelin Zeerip.


6:30 p.m. Fri., April 29, Michigan Science Center (Toyota Engineering)

3:30 p.m. Sat., April 30, Birmingham 8 Powered by Emagine (Theater 2)

Available virtually