Films in Development
Photos © Galen Rowell

Galen Rowell: An American Master
A Dancing Star Foundation Film
In Association with Mountain Light and
the Galen Rowell Estate

Galen Avery Rowell, with his wife Barbara Cushman Rowell, died in a plane crash in 2002 in Bishop California, which was their home. This one-hour documentary examines the inspiring career of perhaps the 20th century's greatest explorer/photographer, Galen Rowell. There has never been anyone quite like Galen, whose photography not only revealed the soul of mountaineering at its most glorious, exquisite best, but also translated the spirit of adventure into deep conservationism and human rights orientations.

With commentary by his friends Tom Brokaw, HH The Dalai Lama, George Schaller, Frans Lanting, Justin Black and Dean Stevens, among others, the book, Galen Rowell –A Retrospective (Sierra Club Books, 2006), featuring more than 175 Galen Rowell images, is one of the great photographic books. Rowell's unique art elevates the explorer/photographer into one of the most critical and pro-active voices of relevant engagement of the world that we are ever likely to see. The sheer beauty and scope of his work is inspirational.

In homage to this Great Master whose life was tragically cut short just a few years after he became the "oldest" man to climb the sheer granite face of El Capitan in one day (at the age of 57) Galen Rowell: An American Master will present the lyricism, spirituality and breathless wonder that was Galen, one of the premiere conservationists, explorers and human rights activists of his or any generation.

America The Beautiful:
A History of U.S. Environmentalism

This major new series examines American environmental issues beginning in the 15th century and continuing through today. Key figures in natural history, research and exploration, politics and science; populist leaders of the conservation movement; advances, conflicts, and the ongoing dialogue that engages the public in what are our responsibilities as ecological citizens, will be cast in a thrilling context of dynamic balance, promise and peril.

Key historical figures among Native Americans, and early observers and explorers like Father Louis Hennepin and J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur inspired some of the earliest initiatives for the creation of wildlife refuges and national parks. America The Beautiful will examine in lyrical style what forces most shaped the conservation movements in America, which in turn gave impetus to similar endeavors throughout the world.

The work of George Catlin, Thomas Jefferson, the great ornithologists and Transcendentalists of the 19th century, Hudson River School painters, Luminists and those on the frontlines of the conservation battles in the 20th and 21st century all reveal a unity of purpose and hope that is at the core of the series. Heroes like Aldo Leopold, John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, Theodore Roosevelt, Rachel Carson, and many others, are viewed as never before.

America The Beautiful makes it abundantly clear that the American people have much to be grateful for, while acknowledging much work yet to be done if energy and consumer sustainability and the conservation of our precious environment is to be safeguarded into the future.

H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment

DSF is now in development with the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment on a new feature film documentary that will be an up-to-date and definitive overview of climate change impacts on global biodiversity. Dr. Thomas Lovejoy, a world authority on biodiversity issues and President of the Heinz Center, will host the documentary. It will look specifically at the rapid changes and behavioral reactions of diverse species as global warming threatens their survival. While severe weather events, oil and rising food prices, and their impact on human economies have been in the forefront of the climate change discussion, this film will be one of the first to concentrate on other life forms. It will show how human consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are placing much of the planet's biodiversity at risk. This feature promises to be an eye-opening, non-partisan examination of the urgent challenges facing life on Earth. It will be a tool to help galvanize human concern and inform choices for the future.

Night of the Yeti
Written and Produced by Tshering Penjore
A Dancing Star Foundation Production

A dramatic feature film, Night of the Yeti follows the remarkable journey of a little girl, her father and an ailing yak with whom the girl has a deep bond. Winter has been severe, Yaks have suffered, some have died. The little girl is heartbroken.

They undertake a remarkable journey across the remote Eastern Himalayas of Bhutan in search of a revered herbalist who might save the yak. During the course of their tortuous odyssey, they encounter a scientific team on the trail of what they believe to be a bona fide Yeti.

Dramatic conflicts emerge that pit the ancient Buddhist traditions of compassion and modesty against the modernizing impulses of scientific advance. Lives are at stake, as well as the very biological heritage that has come to characterize the ethics, ecosystems and indigenous alpine herders who, for centuries, have lived in isolation, revering one of the most elusive, benign and magical of all creatures. In this case, it is that very creature, a yeti, whose love of a little girl and her yak will transform conflict into gentle resolution; melting the ego-driven hearts of science by dispelling fear and intrusiveness with love. The secret is never to be revealed.


This feature documentary will examine the remarkable inner thought of one of the great champions of environmentalism the world has ever known. David Henry Thoreau (his actual name, 1817-1862) is best remembered, of course, for his two years, two months and two days stay at Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. Yet, his more than twenty volumes of nature observation, philosophical musing, commitment to civil disobedience, and his friendship with Ralph Waldo Emerson, all add up to one of the truly seminal meditations on nature and humanity's place within it.

Through his own words as narration, this film will profile his inner thought, his transcendentalism, intuitive vision, and the beauty, clarity, wit and profound questions that occupied his mind. Interviewing some of those great conservationists today whose lives have been affected by Thoreau, and filming at key locations relevant to his life, Thoreau - in collaboration with Seminole State College of Florida- should be ready for distribution in late 2012.