Funded! This project was successfully funded on November 11, 2011.

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'Church Forest' is a documentary film exploring the disappearing church forests of Ethiopia and the work being done to save them.

Church Forest - Extended Trailer

Church Forest is a documentary film that is currently in preproduction.  Scattered across the arid landscape of Ethiopia are thousands of small, wooded sanctuaries - in the center of each lies a church. For 1500 years Ethiopian Orthodox Churches have protected these forests as recreations of the Garden of Eden, but today these forests are vanishing rapidly; with some estimates predicting their complete disappearance within 5 years. Please donate to help us make this film and spread the word. Help us tell the story of religion and science working hand in hand to preserve these important havens of spirituality and biodiversity. 

HOW THE MONEY WILL BE SPENT

The 25,000 dollars we are hoping to raise for this kickstarter campaign represents part of our production budget, and an even smaller part of the total budget for the film. All of the money donated will go directly towards the travel and basic living expenses of our small documentary film crew. We also hope to be able to rent the neccessary equipment to make this film as beautiful and moving as possible. When we return from Ethiopia, we will begin the much larger fundraising push for post-production and distribution costs.  It costs a lot to make a film and we are certainly allowed to surpass our kickstarter goal! Every dollar donated to this project is an investment in building an international community around saving the Church Forests of Ethiopia, and will be put to good use!

TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATION

Your donation is tax deductible.  CHURCH FOREST is a fiscally sponsored project of the Tree Foundation, a 501(c)(3) corporation. Contributions on behalf of CHURCH FOREST are payable to the Tree Foundation and are tax deductible less the value of any goods or services received, as allowed by law.

HOW KICKSTARTER WORKS

Kickstarter is a tool for anyone in the creative world to gather the help and support needed for their projects. Kickstarter’s platform allows filmmakers like us to share our project with the unlimited Internet community. We create a profile, set a fundraising goal and a time frame to meet it, and offer the rewards/incentives.

However, Kickstarter is an ALL OR NOTHING proposition. That means we NEED to meet our goal of $25,000. If we raise even a dollar short of our goal, we lose it all. All of your donations will be fully refunded. We really don't want this to happen!

SAVING THE CHURCH FORESTS

The Tree Foundation, our fiscal sponsor, is currently working directly with the Ethiopian Orthodox Churches to help save the church forests.  Their main goal in Ethiopia is to build stone walls around the forests using local labor, as well as installing hygienic facilities to ensure that the church biodiversity has appropriate stewardship, gates, and a truly sustainable approach. This Sustainable approach involves a win – win – win situation:

  1. Better farming for the locals by removing stones from their fields
  2. Local jobs by paying local unemployed people to build the stone walls
  3. Longterm conservation of the forests by creating an attractive perimeter delineation that the church has approved.

More information can be found on the Tree Foundation website: http://treefoundation.org/wp/category/research/church-forests-of-ethiopia/

WHAT ELSE CAN I DO TO HELP?

After donating, the next most important thing you can do is announce our campaign to your friends. Share our trailer, link to our Kickstarter campaign and website on your Facebook profile and Twitter feed for all friends and family to see. We ask you in this time of giving to help support a story of inspiration that can give back to the community.

Also, please join our Facebook group at: https://www.facebook.com/churchforest

I WOULD LIKE TO MAKE AN EVEN BIGGER IMPACT!

We would be honored to have your support in such a large way. We are offering Executive Producer credits at $25,000 each. Your name would appear in our credits and on IMDB as such. Please note that these are honorary titles and do not engender any creative or business involvement/decision-making in regards to any part of CHURCH FOREST nor does the credit entitle any claim of ownership over CHURCH FOREST. These donations are tax-deductible.

MORE INFO ABOUT THE FILM 

The Ethiopia of ancient times was verdant, flourishing country, frequented by the Egyptians and Romans for its natural resources and for the knowledge of its inhabitants.  Ethiopia was also one of the earliest countries to adopt Christianity as its national religion, and in 500 AD churches sprouted up among the woodland.

Modern-day Ethiopia has been largely deforested for agricultural needs and to harvest building materials.  When looking at Ethiopia from an aerial vantage point, however, one can make out thousands of tiny, wooded sanctuaries amidst the sprawling, arid farmlands - vestiges of the ancient Ethiopian forest. In the center of each one of these green oases lies a church.

These Ethiopian Othodox Christian churches take it as one of their fundamental tenets to preserve these 'church forests,' and the parishioners consider them to be reconstructions of the Garden of Eden.  Some of these churches, and likewise the sacred forests that surround them, are 1500 years old. These sites are of enormous cultural and historical significance and also play a key role in the ecology of Ethiopia - as food sources, water cycling sources, seed banks, and sole habitats for the majority of the entire region's biodiversity.  However, these church forests are rapidly disappearing, with some estimates predicting that they will vanish entirely within 5 years.

Enter Meg Lowman, affectionately called the mother of canopy research as one of the first scientists to explore this “eighth continent.” For 30 years, she has designed hot-air balloons and walkways for treetop exploration to solve the mysteries of the world’s forests.  She has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific publications, and her first book, “Life in the Treetops,” received a cover review in the New York Times Sunday Book Review.

This January, Meg will lead a team of researchers and conservationists to Ethiopia on a mission to work hand in hand with the local priests and parishioners to create and enact simple sustainable measures to forever preserve these sacred cultural and environmental havens.

The funds for this kickstarter campaign represent a fraction of the total cost of creating a documentary film.  They will go towards the travel expenses and equipment budget for a small documentary crew to go to Ethiopia and explore these ancient church forests.  We will document the places, the people who live there, and the visitors who have come to help.  This film will raise awareness about the church forests, the plight they are in, as well as highlight an unlikely story of collaboration between scientific and religious communities. 

For more information please contact us at: churchforestmovie@gmail.com

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Funding period

- (60 days)