About this project
In the Air is a feature film in which artists from the Gulf Coast use dance, spoken word, and visual art to tell stories of environmental injustice, survival, and alternative visions for the future.
In the Air plays in three movements built around a continuous musical score, visually expansive or intimate by turns, carrying us through sunset (the past), night (the present), and sunrise (the future) on the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast. A hybrid of documentary and performance, In the Air is imagined as an epic poem devised through collaboration between highly accomplished spoken word artists, dancers, and visual artists from across the region—recounting their own experiences and connecting them to the broader themes of the film. In some cases, the poets will perform as a team to physically and narratively interweave their stories.
With In the Air, we intend to explore the arts as a strategy to address issues of environmental justice and to inspire others to join us in this effort. We want to set a template for deep and intentional interaction between the communities and the film, beginning with development and continuing through our distribution and outreach campaign. The film will be a part of a broader engagement campaign that we will bring to frontline communities on the Gulf Coast and then out into the rest of the country. Our ambitious outreach and engagement campaign will include writing and arts workshops in schools led by the artists in the film, community and school screenings with the participation of the artists and filmmakers, panel discussions with local activists and leaders, live performances, and a multimedia website featuring teaching guides and other educational materials.
Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. It will be achieved when all people have the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, as well as equal access to the decision making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency
This support will fund pre-production and part of production. It will cover the commissions for our poets, composer, choreographers, and dancers to create the script and choreography, which will be the narrative spine of our film. It will also cover some of the expenses of production, including crew, food, travel, and equipment.
However, this campaign is about much more for us than raising funds. We hope it will raise awareness of and start conversations about environmental justice, which is the overall goal of In the Air.
Reginald C. Adams (Public Artist) is a public artist, artrepreneur and community developer who has facilitated the design, coordination and production over 200 public art projects over the last 20 years. He is best known for his award winning tile mosaic murals, sculptures and art installations, which are strategically located in some of Houston’s most historic and under served neighborhoods.
Ehren "Kataalyst" Alcindor (Poet) is a New Orleanian poet whose work focuses on the people, culture, and history of his native city. He is a founding member of the spoken word club Slam New Orleans, a three-time National Poetry Slam Champion, and one of the Big Easy's most influential young voices.
Emanuelee “Outspoken" Bean (Poet) is a performance poet, writer, compassionate mentor, electric entertainer, and educator. He is a 2011 Texas Poet Laureate nominee, ranked 9th in the Individual World Poetry Slam 2013, ranked 2nd in collaborative poetry at Group Piece Finals 2013 and, is ranked 11th at National Poetry Slam 2014 (both with Houston VIP).
Loyce Gayo (Poet) is a Tanzanian born slam poet, singer, teaching artist and activist who is currently based in Houston, TX. Gayo is profoundly influenced by her experience in the African Diaspora and uses her craft to celebrate the journey of a people dispersed.
Harrison Guy (Choreographer) grew up in La Marque, TX, before moving to New York to study at the Alvin Ailey Dance School. He is the founder and Artistic Director of Urban Souls Dance Company, an award winning company that's treading new ground and making its voice heard throughout the community and nationally. Urban Souls' work tackles issues and ideas that push some audiences to new ways of thinking.
Walter Hull (Choreographer) co-founded the Urban Souls Dance Company in Houston, TX and founded the U.R.B.A.N. Kids Initiative, which partners with a number of schools and arts organizations to expose students to the power of movement. Each of Walter’s experiences and skill sets have contributed to his ongoing work with dancers and organizations in Kigali, Rwanda. In June 2015, Walter became the Education Director of the internationally recognized, Project Row Houses.
Asia Rainey (Poet) is a poet, actress, musician, visual artist, activist, community advocate, mentor to young writers, and playwright. As a spoken word artist and vocalist, she has been welcomed as a featured and guest performer at numerous events, festivals, benefits, and educational institutions around the country.
Sha’Condria "iCon" Sibley (Poet) is a nationally-acclaimed championship poet/spoken word and multi-disciplinary teaching artist. As a founding member of Slam New Orleans, she has helped the team win multiple regional and national titles, solidifying them as a “dynasty” in the world of slam poetry while going on to make a name for herself as an individual artist and one of the top-ranked female slam poets in the world.
Ebony Stewart (Poet) is an international touring performance arts spoken word poet and active artist from Central Texas. She has coached Austin Neo Soul and Austin Poetry Slam, finishing 1st and 5th at the National Poetry Slam, and the 2017 Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion.
John Fiege (Director/Cinematographer/Producer) is an award-winning filmmaker whose latest film, Above All Else, is a feature-length documentary about the Keystone XL pipeline that premiered at the 2014 SXSW Film Festival, with an international premiere at Hot Docs. Mississippi Chicken, his intimate portrait of immigrants working in the poultry industry, was nominated for a Gotham Award for “The Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You” and screened at the Museum of Modern Art.
Christopher Lucas (Producer) is a producer, writer, and educator. He produced Above All Else with John Fiege and Anita Grabowski as well as numerous shorts and commercial projects in collaboration with Fiege Films. He was awarded a doctorate in media studies from the University of Texas, where he co-founded flowtv.org, a popular site for scholarly media criticism.
Jacques Gerard Colimon (Producer) is an award-winning multidisciplinary Haitian-American performer, writer, and documentarian (ICM, Untitled MGMT). A University of Texas at Austin alumnus (BA Theatre & Dance, BS RTF), he is the recipient of the 2015 Austin Critics Table Lead Actor award and the 2016 B. Iden Payne Lead Actor award.
Anita Grabowski (Producer) is a community organizer and campaigns strategist who also produces films in collaboration with her husband, John Fiege. Their first film, Mississippi Chicken, is based in rural Mississippi, where she co-founded a workers’ center to support poultry workers in their battle to improve workplace conditions. She has worked nationally on a range of issues including immigration reform, economic justice, death penalty abolition, and reproductive health.
Leah Marino (Lead Editor) has edited documentaries for 20 years in Austin, TX. She recently completed Motherland (Special Jury Award Sundance '17) about the world’s busiest maternity hospital in Manila, Philippines. Her recent work includes Deborah Esquenazi's Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four (Tribeca '16), Robert Byington’s narrative film, 7 Chinese Brothers (SXSW '15), Above All Else (SXSW '14).
Liz Perlman (Editor) is an Austin based editor, producer, and filmmaker who uses compelling storytelling to explore the intersections of social justice, identity, and sexuality. She served as a co-editor + associate producer for Above All Else (SXSW '14) and recently edited Deborah Esquenazi's Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four (Tribeca '16). She most recently edited a short film about Scotland's national poet, Jackie Kay, which will screen at TATE Modern's upcoming exhibition featuring queer British Artists.
Shelby Hadden (Associate Producer) is a writer, speaker, and documentary filmmaker whose work explores issues of gender and identity. Her current film, Tightly Wound, is a short animated film about her experience with chronic pelvic pain, based on her essay that was published in BUST Magazine. She is also a producer and director for Austin-based creative agency, Bring Light & Sound, and holds an MFA in Film and Media Production from the University of Texas at Austin.
Robert Bullard is a professor in the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern and is often described as the “father of environmental justice.” His book, Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality is a standard text in the field, and he has authored eighteen books that address sustainable development, environmental racism, urban land use, climate justice, and related topics.
Heather Houser is an English professor at the University of Texas at Austin and studies contemporary fiction, the environment, medicine and literature, and new media. Her most recent book is Ecosickness in Contemporary U.S. Fiction: Environment and Affect (Columbia University Press, 2014), and she's currently at work on Environmental Culture of the Infowhelm, a study of how contemporary artworks manage environmental information.
Hilton Kelley is a leading figure in the battle for environmental justice on the Texas Gulf Coast, as he fights for communities living in the shadow of polluting industries. He was born and raised on the West Side of Port Arthur and spent many of his early years in the Carver Terrace public housing project on the fence line of the Motiva refinery. His environmental justice organizing work earned him the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2011.
Anthony Pinn was the first African American to hold an endowed chair at Rice University (Houston) as the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies. He is a leading thinker in liberation theologies, black religious aesthetics, and African American humanism, and director of the Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning (CERCL), an institute committed to fostering greater connections and collaborations between Rice University and the larger Houston community.
Aaron Mair of Schenectady, New York, is the president of the Sierra Club's board of directors. An epidemiological-spatial analyst with the New York State Department of Health, Mair's experience includes more than three decades of environmental activism and over 25 years as a Sierra Club volunteer leader, where he has worked diligently for environmental justice.
Adam Rome teaches environmental history at the University at Buffalo. A leading expert on the history of environmental activism, he is the author of the prizewinning The Bulldozer in the Countryside: Suburban Sprawl and the Rise of American Environmentalism (2001) and The Genius of Earth Day: How a 1970 Teach-In Unexpectedly Made the First Green Generation (2013). He also is co-editor of Green Capitalism? Business and the Environment in the Twentieth Century (2017).
Dr. Robert Wilson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. Dr. Wilson is a historical geographer and environmental historian and the author of Seeking Refuge: Birds and Landscapes of the Pacific Flyway. His current project, Forging the Climate Movement, examines the demonstrations, organizations, and individuals involved in the North American climate movement.
Risks and challenges
Film projects always contain an element of uncertainty. Fortunately, we have an incredibly talented team of artists and crew to bring this film to life. With your help, we’re confident that we can make this film a reality!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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