Tuesday, July 8, 2008

KPFA interviews the Bees

Ali Budner just produced a great little radio story on bee health for KPFA radio. We sat on the other side of the mic this time.

You can listen to the July 4th broadcast of the story on Full Circle here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Fresno Bee

Dennis Pollack reviewed Pollen Nation for the Business section of the Fresno Bee, just before the screening in the Fresno Filmworks Festival.

Here's an excerpt:

Pollen Nation" offers no answers to the health plight of the bees and beekeepers' battles with colony-collapse disorder. Nor is it a heavy-handed environmentalist polemic.

But it does raise the question of what happens when the ways of agriculture -- growing almonds on huge plots of land as a "monoculture" with no other pollinators and little other foliage around -- clash with nature's needs for honeybees and the bees' need for year-round forage.

"God didn't make bees to run all over the country like this," said beekeeper David Hackenberg, who runs bees up and down the East Coast from Florida to Maine, and also occasionally out to California's almonds.

His remarks pinpointed the artificial way nature is controlled and the stresses it can place on the bees.

Ohio for the Bees

Thanks Ohio! Film lovers voted Pollen Nation "Best Short Documentary" at the Oxford International Film Festival last month.

On the Banks of the Chattahoochee

Pollen Nation will screen with a great line-up of environmental films from the Wild & Scenic Film Festival at 7pm Wednesday, April 23rd in the auditorium of the new Columbus Library on Macon Road, in Columbus, GA. The event is free and open to the public.

Call Chattahoochee RiverWatch at 706-317-4837 for information

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fresno Film Festival

The agricultural community is our most important audience, so we're thrilled to be filming at the Fresno Film Festival, in the heart of the Central Valley.

The screening will be held at the historic Tower Theater at 1:30 pm on Saturday, April 19th. 815 E. Olive Avenue, Fresno [map]
$10.00 General Admission
$8.00 for Students and Seniors
buy tickets →

Friday, February 22, 2008

Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival

Pollen Nation will screen in Vancouver, British Columbia on Sunday, February 24, 7:30 pm at the MacMillan Space Centre (aka Planetarium)

The program - “Sustainability – Our Common Future” will include a
presentation by Bill Rees and Emmanuel Prinet from One Earth Initiative. Pollen Nation will screen with a film called Kilowatt Ours, a personal documentary about energy use. Doors - 6:30pm, Show - 7:30pm Buy Tickets

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Pollen Nation to Tour with Wild & Scenic Festival

Pategonia's Wild & Scenic Film Festival will bring a line-up of environmental films to more than 50 cities in 2008 - from Maine, to Wisconsin to Oregon. Depending on local interest, the screenings will include Pollen Nation - each tour location will choose a line-up from a list of festival offerings. So if you see a venue near you listed on the schedule, be sure to let them know well in advance that you'd like to see Pollen Nation at the event!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Our Decrepit Food Factories

Michael Pollan writes an excellent article in the New York Times on two disturbing breakdowns in the industrial food system.

He writes:

"Confucius advised that if we hoped to repair what was wrong in the world, we had best start with the “rectification of the names.” The corruption of society begins with the failure to call things by their proper names, he maintained, and its renovation begins with the reattachment of words to real things and precise concepts. So what about this much-abused pair of names, sustainable and unsustainable?"

While critics have been speaking of modern industrial agriculture as unsustainable for decades, it's often hard for people to connect the dots on what precisely this means. Pollan points to two current crises - the honey bee die off & drug resistant staph infections - and their very specific connections industrial agriculture. These are not surprising mysteries, but direct responses to the an unsustainable food system. He quotes from Singeli's article about almond pollination in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“We’re placing so many demands on bees we’re forgetting that they’re a living organism and that they have a seasonal life cycle,” Marla Spivak, a honeybee entomologist at the University of Minnesota, told The Chronicle. “We’re wanting them to function as a machine. . . . We’re expecting them to get off the truck and be fine.”

Friday, November 30, 2007

Michael Shorr on CBS

Pollen Nation screened in Santa Fe this week. Michael Shorr, the composer for the film, handled the Q & A after the film, and also did an interview with the CBS correspondent for Showbuzz about his soundtrack work.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Les Abeilles

We are thrilled to be screening in La Cinema Pagode, a theater built at the beginning of the century in the style of a Japanese pagoda. It's one of the most classic art house theaters in Paris.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Paris, for the Bees

Pollen Nation will screen at the Paris Environmental Film Festival, November 26th, 4pm at Cinema la Pagode : 57 rue de Babylone. We sent the film off for French subtitling today...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Bee Broker

Singeli's story on bees and the almond industry was published today in the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday magazine.

Here's what one reader had to say:

Singeli Agnew's article on Joe Traynor's bee brokering for apiarists and almond growers was an excellent bit of writing on a fascinating subject . I am...beekeeper who has experienced many heartbreaks the past few years as my bees have repeatedly died off, no matter what I do to keep them healthy and alive....Agnew avoided the triteness of many newspaper and magazine articles on bees and wove together, briefly and elegantly, an accurate report on modern big time beekeeping, its major players and issues, and what bees mean to each of us.

Tom Clark
Piedmont, CA

Monday, October 8, 2007

Award for "Promoting Awareness of a Critical Issue"

Montana CINE Film Festival awarded Pollen Nation an honorable mention for "Promoting Awareness of a Critical Issue" at their annual festival in Missoula October 3- 7th at the Blackfoot Theater in Missoula. The film screened for elementary schools all week, followed by evening and weekend screenings for a general audience.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Berkeley Screening With Claire Kremen

SAFE Food and Farming Film Series
Thursday, October 18, 6:30 pm
The Hillside Club
2286 Cedar Street in Berkeley
Screening will be followed by a discussion with MacArthur Genius Fellow Claire Kremen whose research investigates the contributions of native bees to agricultural pollination. Her works seeks to answer the question of how pollination services could be enhanced through altered land management practices, conservation of natural habitats, alternative farming practices, and restoration.

Monday, September 24, 2007

October Screenings

Mill Valley Film Festival
Pollen Nation will be part of a shorts program entitled “Bee-ing Me”
Saturday October 6th, 2:45 pm at the Throckmorton Theater
Sunday October 14th, 6:00 pm at the Throckmorton Theater

Ojai International Film Festival

Pollen Nation will precede the film “Off the Grid,” a film about Taos Mesa.
Saturday, Oct 6, 3:00 pm at Matilija Jr High School

Taos Mountain Film Festival
Friday, October 5th, 6:00 pm at the Taos Community Auditorium. (tune in to KTAO 101.5 Thursday at 9:15 am for a discussion with our composer Michael Shorr and other Taos filmmakers.)

Montana CINE Film Festival

Wednesday, October 3, 7:00 pm at the Blackfoot Theater
Sunday, October 7, 7:00 pm at the Blackfoot Theater

Thursday, February 22, 2007


The almond trees unfold their blossoms right around Valentine's Day every year. By then, more than half the honeybees that exist in this country have been trucked in and are now poised between the orchard rows, ready to get to work. It's an exhausting affair; an unnaturally early spring for most of the bees, and a simple diet that lacks nutrition. And - as one beekeeper told Singeli - the diseases passed in this floral brothel make it a risky venture for the beekeepers. Here's Josh, trying to catch some action on film.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

600,000 acres, 40 Billion Bees

Up in a copter above the almond bloom, on a cold February morning. Josh braced himself against the wind, bare hands turning blue, to capture a sense of the magnitude of this crop. The rows extend as far as the eye can see....

Sunday, February 11, 2007


In December, we called David Hackenberg, one of the beekeepers we were working with. Just that morning, he'd discovered most of his hives empty - the bees were gone, and even all the way across the country, on a bad cell connection, the shock and devastation were obvious in Dave's voice. In the midst of filming, we were suddenly immersed in a major news story. When we met up with Jeff Anderson again in California in January, he badly wanted to find us a few active, brimming hives to film...it wasn't easy. The losses had been extraordinary, and he was struggling to stay positive. Almond contracts loomed, and every day Jeff was finding more deadouts. Here we are filming one of the few strong hives with sound woman Julie Caine.

Monday, October 30, 2006