In the ‘50s and ‘60s, a group of Davids pulled their slingshots taut and took down the Goliath of big business, special interests, and government. The result was the creation of the conjoined Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area, arguably the largest and best urban park in the country. The long-term legacy of their shot is the setting of new precedents for preserving wild landscapes and the shape of today’s environmental movement.
The two-decade-long story of these superheroes is told in the documentary Rebels with a Cause by filmmaker Nancy Kelly. These ordinary citizens – an unlikely group of allies including garden clubs, ranchers, farmers, conservationists, and politicians – fought to preserve the 151,000-acres of breathtaking landscape against the greatest odds with little more than their time and enthusiasm. Thinking they would quickly fade away, their foes did not take them seriously. They emerged victorious after numerous setbacks, disappointments, and the near-collapse of their partnership.
Narrated by Oscar-winning actor Frances McDormand, Rebels is a beautiful film to watch according to nearly every review, but more importantly, it reveals how, at one time in this country, compromise and negotiation across party lines actually worked.
Kelly, who will be at the screening at the Mercyhurst Institute for Arts & Culture for a question-and-answer segment after the film, said she hopes everyone comes to see the 2012 Mill Valley Film Festival Audience Favorite Award winner for Best Documentary. “It’s humorous, inspiring, and beautiful,” Kelly states. “It is a celebration of these people’s victory over all kinds of special interests and it usually sparks the audience to compare it with its own battles and victories.”
Besides the spectacular scenery, my guess is the audience was voting for the depiction of a successful collaboration among disparate groups and the average citizens who stuck to their guns. They remind us that things do not have to be business as usual; we can change the rules by which we live.
7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 13 // Taylor Little Theatre, 501 E. 38th St. // 824.3000