My friends “back east” are always surprised when I tell them I live in a four seasons environment. People tend to confuse New Mexico, not just with Arizona, but Phoenix when it comes to weather. Here in the mountains east of Albuquerque we enjoy winter, spring, summer and fall. But in New Mexico, and more and more of the American west, the two seasons we stress over are fire season and monsoon. We stress over monsoon because its rain can snuff out the fire season.
The people who clock this stuff say New Mexico, with its mostly desert, continental terrain is taking on global warming in a big way. We’ve seen a bigger rise in average temperature in the last 50 years than the global rise over the last 140.
Hot and dry weather produces fire seasons. Not long ago, in New Mexico, fire season was June and into July when the monsoon season began. But recently fire season has started scorching in mid-May and monsoon has come late, or not at all. Almost everyone in New Mexico west of the plains has seen the smoke plumes of forests on fire.
So, I had a personal interest in seeing “Wildland,” a documentary about a team of forest firefighters. Turns out, I didn’t need it, nor will you need to have nearby woodlands to enjoy watching this documentary about a wildfire-fighting team built in Grants Pass, Oregon, be trained up and sent off to fight a dangerous wildfire in California.
This is a beautifully shot documentary, very well edited, and enhanced by a brilliant mixture of natural sound and music. Maybe you saw “Wildland” in October on PBS’ Independent Lens. Well, we’re going to talk about an extended director’s cut, not limited by public television’s 50 minute content “hole,” it’s now being released nationally via “Theatrical On Demand.”
Alex Jablonski and Kahlil Hudson made the documentary film WILDLAND, covering the work of fire-fighters over two fire seasons in the American Southwest. Alex also produced and edited Low & Clear which premiered at SXSW where it won the Audience Award. Previously Alex created the documentary project Sparrow Songs in which he made one short documentary a month, every month for a year. The project developed a worldwide following and he was named to Filmmaker Magazine’s list of The 25 New Faces of Independent Film. The series was spotlighted at Sundance and screened at SXSW at IDFA. In 2018, Alex was named as the Sundance Institute I Discovery Impact Fellow.
Details on how to host a local screening can be found on the film’s website: www.wildlandfilm.com.