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MFF Wraps Up Wetlands


Written by: MacGillivray Freeman Films
Date: June 23, 2005


Category: Press Releases

It's A Wrap For MacGillivray Freeman's Upcoming Large Format Film About America's Wetlands and The Mississippi Delta; Film Crew Brings Back Rare Images of This Vital But Endangered Environment

Laguna Beach, California, June 23, 2005 -- MacGillivray Freeman Films has completed principal photography and entered the post-production phase for its blues-infused giant screen film about America's wetlands and the Mississippi Delta, WETLANDS (working title). Home to Cajun crawfish, New Orleans blues and one of the most unique cultures in the world, the bayous of coastal Louisiana harbor more than 40% of the nation's wetlands, yet these wetlands are disappearing at an alarming rate. Wetlands is both a joyful celebration of this vital but little-known region and a solemn warning about the human and environmental consequences as Southern Louisiana erodes into the sea.

MacGillivray Freeman Films is bringing this important story to public attention with the power of the IMAX® theatre medium. A film crew headed by two-time Oscar®-nominated director/producer Greg MacGillivray recently wrapped production on a five-week shoot in Louisiana and Florida where they filmed alligators, egrets, Cajun natives, a New Orleans blues jam-session, Houmas Indians, and a spectacular simulation of a Class 5 hurricane ripping through the region. Slated for release to IMAX theatres and other large format cinemas in June 2006, Wetlands is produced by MacGillivray Freeman Films in association with Audubon Nature Institute.

"There is no other place in the world quite like the Louisiana bayous," said MacGillivray. "They are uniquely beautiful and ho me to an amazing abundance of wildlife and the generous spirit of the Cajun people. We came back with rare and unusual footage that captures the essence of this special region and its rich traditions and culture. Once you learn more about this place, you can't help but have a new appreciation for America's wetlands and what they mean to our nation's heritage."

The southern region of Louisiana is one of America's most vibrant locales, a place overflowing with wildlife, music and incredible natural beauty. Yet it is literally vanishing into the sea. In the last 75 years along the Louisiana coast, a land area the size of Delaware has vanished. Every 40 minutes or so, a plot of ground the size of a football field washes away forever. The erosion is caused, in part, by the channeling of the Mississippi River in the late 1920s, which deprived Louisiana of silt, mud and other sediment that naturally rejuvenated the marshland and kept it healthy.

Louisiana's coastal wetlands serve as critical protection from hurricanes and storm surges for more than two million people living in the coastal zone, including residents of the City of New Orleans. With the continuing disappearance of this natural buffer zone, the direct hit of a major hurricane could kill over 100,000 people in a tsunami- like disaster. The ramifications for the nation's ecology, economy, and cultural heritage are extreme, presenting one of the most important environmental challenges of the day.

Set to the rhythms of Cajun zydeco and New Orleans blues, Wetlands stars three Louisiana natives -- New Orleans blues musician Tab Benoit, Native American school teacher Jamey Billiot, and 14-year-old fiddling sensation Amanda Shaw. Through their stories, viewers will come to a new appreciation for the fragile beauty of the region and the warmth of the Cajun people, whose land is literally disappearing beneath their feet.

At the heart of the story are the marshy wetlands themselves. Viewers will experience their lush diversity from high above in a helicopter, while skimming across the bayou in a pirogue, and from under the waterÕs surface where baby alligators take their first swim. In the film's most dramatic sequence, viewers will watch a graphic depiction of a Class 5 hurricane hitting the region.

"We want audiences to have a great time as we immerse them in the rich, jubilant, blues-infused culture of this unique region," says Stephen Judson, MFF's Vice President of Production and Post Production. "But at the same time, we hope they'll come away with a new understanding of the seriousness of what's happening to the wetlands. It would be a tragedy for the entire nation if this special environment and culture were allowed to vanish forever."

Wetlands is being directed and produced by Greg MacGillivray; executive produced by Ron Forman; camera by MacGillivray, Brad Ohlund, Jack Tankard, Ron Goodman; and script by Louisiana native Glen Pitre.

About Audubon Nature Institute
Audubon Nature Institute ( is a private, not-for-profit organization based in New Orleans whose mission is to celebrate the wonders of nature, educate audiences about the natural world and enhance the care and survival of wildlife. Audubon Nature Institute operates a collection of ten world-class family parks and museums including the Audubon Zoo, Louisiana Nature Center, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Entergy IMAX® Theatre and the Audubon Research Center for Endangered Species. The organization's success has been attributed to innovative public/private partnerships involving local and regional businesses, and city, state and federal government participation. More than three million people each year visit Audubon facilities.

About MacGillivray Freeman Films
MacGillivray Freeman Films is the largest, most experienced independent producer and distributor of giant screen 70mm films in the world. Throughout the company's 40-year history, MFF films have won numerous international awards including an Academy Award® nomination for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2000 for Dolphins, and a 1995 nomination in the same category for The Living Sea. In 1998, the giant screen film Everest achieved unprecedented acclaim and box office success for a large format film. More recently, the company's film Coral Reef Adventure was named Best Film of the Year by the Giant Screen Theater Association. MacGillivray Freeman's films are known for their artistry and successful blend of education and entertainment, as well as their celebration of science and the natural world.

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