Christi Cooper has been awarded with the inaugural SFFILM Environmental Fellowship for her documentary Youth v. Gov.
In partnership with Vulcan Productions, the production company established by Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen, the program aims to provide support for mid-career filmmakers with an environmentally- or conservation-focused feature documentary in development or early production.
The fellowship program will provide Cooper with a US$25,000 cash prize, in addition to one year of mentorship and services to support the development, production and impact campaign for her film. As such, the Emmy Award-winning cinematographer-turned-director will travel to San Francisco and Seattle to participate in filmmaking and environmental workshops to further cultivate industry relationships.
The SFFILM Environmental Fellowship consists of three components, including a residency at SFFILM’s FilmHouse for artistic support and mentorship; guidance from a dedicated environmental advisor; and development of a community outreach campaign and educational plan.
Youth v. Gov will examine a landmark lawsuit brought forth by 21 American youth who are suing the U.S. government and fossil fuel industry for willfully acting in creating our climate crisis and endangering their futures. The film will chronicle the turbulent legal battle as the defendants endeavor to get the case dismissed. The case will go to trial on Oct. 29 in Eugene, Oregon.
“We are once again at a point in history where youth are rising up and demanding change, from gun reform to social justice,” said Cooper in a statement. “These youth plaintiffs are on the frontlines of the climate crisis in our highest courts of law, holding their government accountable to protect their rights and inspiring other youth to take action. This story also has the power to change our discourse on climate change in a time of intense partisan divide, and to reframe it as a paramount responsibility of our government to protect our future.”
Cooper’s project was whittled down from a submissions pool of 70-plus projects by a committee of film and environmental experts from SFFILM, Vulcan Productions, Sierra Magazine, EarthX and the Redford Center.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Vulcan to add to our commitment to the crucial early development stage of this documentary and elevate emerging voices tackling such significant issues of the environment and conservation,” added Caroline von Kühn, director of artist development at SFFILM. “Through this process, it was really quite encouraging to see how many talented filmmakers are out there tackling these critical issues, but we are especially excited to support Christi and this timely, inspiring story of the next generation fighting for the future of our climate.”