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Grand Canyon Adventure Brings Whitewater Excitement to Giant Screen


Written by: MacGillivray Freeman Films
Date: March 14, 2008

The film features world-renowned river advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and celebrated author/anthropologist/explorer Wade Davis.


Category: Press Releases

Timely new film stars environmental heroes Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Wade Davis and presents fresh perspectives about the world's growing water shortage; Narrated by Robert Redford and Featuring Songs and Music By Dave Matthews Band

LAGUNA BEACH, Ca. (March 14, 2008) - - MacGillivray Freeman Films, producers of the blockbuster giant-screen hit Everest, will literally make a splash with the nationwide release of their first 3D film for IMAX Theatres, GRAND CANYON ADVENTURE: RIVER AT RISK 3D. The timely new film opens in select cities on March 14 (in anticipation of World Water Day, March 22). Narrated by Robert Redford, with music and songs by the Grammy Award winning Dave Matthews Band, the giant screen film combines exhilarating river-rafting action on America's most iconic river with the first-ever IMAX 3D images of the Grand Canyon. The film is presented by Teva and supported by Kohler Co.

The movie tells an inspiring, entertaining and engaging story of how ordinary people can make a difference for our parched planet – one that is running out of clean, fresh water so fast that the U.N. estimates that 40% of the world could face life-threatening shortages by the year 2050. Leading this important expedition are two environmental heroes: world-renowned river advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and celebrated author/anthropologist/explorer Wade Davis, accompanied by their daughters -- Kick Kennedy and Tara Davis -- for whom this journey will become a moving rite of passage. They are guided by Shana Watahomigie, a member of the Havasupai tribe and the first Native American to become a National Park Ranger and river guide.

A stirring score featuring songs and music from the Grammy Award-winning Dave Matthews Band sets the mood for this adventure that explores the spiritual, artistic and life-sustaining powers of water -- and makes crystal clear that each of us must do our part to better manage this crucial resource for the future.

"Safe fresh water is a human right like clean air, yet more than one-fifth of the world's people suffer without adequate clean water," says Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who recalls going down the Colorado four decades ago with his own father and seeing wide, sandy banks and animals that have since vanished. "My hope is that Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk 3D will remind the world that restoring our waterways and conserving fresh water are important, not just in developing nations but here at home. The quality and survival of our civilization will depend on it."

The vital urgency for people around the world to address the water crisis comes to the fore as the explorers make their way down the Colorado, itself a prime example of a mighty and hallowed river that has been altered by excess and inefficient use. The Colorado once flowed freely across 1,400 miles, from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, but today no longer reaches the sea.

The river, which is a source of water and power to 25 million Americans, is literally shrinking due to a severe drought cycle now facing the American Southwest. Researchers predict this so-called "mega-drought" could last into the next century, threatening to wreck havoc among the seven states that depend heavily on the river's water.

"In our film, the Colorado River becomes a metaphor for global water issues, revealing how interconnected our rivers, water supply and human actions really are," says the film's two-time Academy Award-nominated producer/director Greg MacGillivray. "A river trip is one of those amazing life events where you're ripped out of your daily routine and inspired to see the world in new ways. With IMAX 3D images, we're able to put the audience even more into the action and let them participate in every twist and turn."

Shot in four weeks almost entirely on the Colorado River, the challenging production took the 350-pound 3D IMAX camera through its paces and involved the cooperation of three Indian nations, the National Park Service, Teva's team of champion kayakers and more than a dozen experienced river guides. The filming of Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk 3D represents the largest filmmaking expedition in the canyon's recent history and the last major film production of its magnitude to be shot in the canyon due to new protective restrictions on the number of crew members and equipment allowed.

As the explorers float through the breath-taking canyons and crash through the raging rapids, they also trace the history of the river. They compare what they see on their trip with 3D photos taken by Jack Hillers on explorer John Wesley Powell's courageous second expedition down the river in 1872 -- and find the landscape dramatically changed. For Kennedy and Davis, whose life work is so closely connected to water, the expedition is also an opportunity to pass the conservation torch to their daughters, whose generation must face the task of making sure we will all have a share in the earth's fresh water resources.

With the earth's population soaring, far too many people have found themselves without daily access to water. From the American West to Africa, aquifers are tapped out, waterways have been dammed into extinction and wetlands have turned to deserts. The result is that more than a staggering 1.5 billion people -- one in five on the planet -- have been left thirsty, while 5 million people a year tragically die due to water-borne illnesses.

"The least we can do is try to create a world where everyone can have a glass of fresh drinking water," adds MacGillivray. "If this film allows more people to feel a deeper respect for rivers and water everywhere, then we will have accomplished what we set out to do. I hope people leave the theatre ready to install a low-flow shower head and to think about water in a new way."

Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk 3D is produced by MacGillivray Freeman Films and MacGillivray Freeman Films Educational Foundation in association with Waterkeeper Alliance and Museum Film Network, presented by Teva and supported by Kohler Co. The film is directed by Greg MacGillivray, produced by Greg MacGillivray, Mark Krenzien, and Shaun MacGillivray, and written by Jack Stephens and Stephen Judson. The score is co-composed by Steve Wood and Dave Matthews Band's Stefan Lessard.

A photographic companion book authored by Wade Davis and featuring a Foreword by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. -- Grand Canyon: River at Risk -- is available from Earth Aware Editions to coincide with the film's release.

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