|Truly CA: Our State, Our Stories: "Counting Sheep" Press Release|
Filmed Over Eleven Years, TRULY CA's "COUNTING SHEEP" Climbs High Peaks For High Stakes: The Fate of the Wild Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep
Documentary to Kick Off TRULY CA, KQED's New Series Presented in Association with BAVC and Film Arts Foundation
COUNTING SHEEP Premieres April 24, 2005 at 6pm on KQED 9
San Francisco, California -- Counting Sheep, the first documentary film in KQED's newest television series Truly CA (www.kqed.org/trulyca), chronicles the struggle for survival of the wild Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, a majestic emblem of American wilderness. At the heart of the film lies the compelling story of the individuals fighting to protect these noble animals in the face of disease, harsh winters and predation by mountain lions. A unique alliance of scientists, trackers, ranchers and politicians is working to save what's at stake: the future of a species.
Over eleven years of filming Counting Sheep, filmmaker Frank Green made more than twenty expeditions to the backcountry of the Sierra Nevada in search of the elusive bighorn sheep. When filming began, only 100 bighorns remained. Their dwindling numbers made them vulnerable to predation, and state wildlife officials took extraordinary measures to shield them from mountain lions, which enjoyed protection from hunting enacted by California voters' initiative.
Counting Sheep marks the first time that the magnificent Sierra bighorn have been captured on film. There are many unique challenges to filming bighorn; they are at home at 12,000 feet and when they see humans, they climb even higher. Sierra bighorn don't drink. They’re comfortable in dry canyons, where they nibble on sparse vegetation for moisture. But, by far the hardest problem according to Green, was just finding the sheep. With an extremely low population living in a range of hundreds of square miles -- they are like needles in a haystack.
Counting Sheep profiles the unlikely allies who made it their mission to conserve the bighorn: biologist John Wehausen, Ph.D., and mountain lion tracker Jeff Davis. In 1999, largely due to their diligence, the bighorn won federal emergency endangered species status. This victory brought about a new controversy -- in order to conserve the bighorn, every mountain lion in the thousands of acres of Sierra bighorn range would have to be collared and monitored, and those that preyed on the sheep, destroyed.
By asking crucial questions about animal rights and conservation, the importance of larger ecosystems, and the delicate quest for coexistence, Counting Sheep demonstrates the challenges of bringing diverse groups together for the shared goal of successful wildlife management. Above all, the film confirms that with commitment and dedication to a cause come the possibility of profound change and effect.
Counting Sheep's director and producer is Frank Green. Gina Leibrecht is the editor.
About Truly CA
Truly CA is KQED's new series of independent documentaries about life in the golden state. It airs monthly on Sundays at 6pm on KQED 9. Truly CA is a KQED production presented in association with the Bay Area Video Coalition and Film Arts Foundation. Rachel Raney is the series producer, Sue Ellen McCann is the executive producer.
KQED Public Broadcasting operates KQED Public Television 9, one of the nation's most-watched public television stations during prime-time, and KQED's digital television channels, which include KQED HD, KQED Encore, KQED World, KQED Life and KQED Kids; KQED Public Radio, the most-listened-to public radio station in the nation with an award-winning news and public affairs program service (88.5 FM in San Francisco and 89.3 FM in Sacramento); KQED.org, one of the most visited station sites in Public Broadcasting; and KQED Education Network, which brings the impact of KQED to thousands of teachers, students, parents and media professionals through workshops, seminars and resources.
The Bay Area Video Coalition is the nation's largest noncommercial media arts center dedicated to providing access to media, education and technology. BAVC is a production facility, an affordable training center, a pioneer in technology-based workforce development and a critical resource for independent filmmakers.
About Film Arts Foundation
Film Arts Foundation supports the creation and success of independent film and video makers by providing education, comprehensive information, state of the art facilities and equipment, financial support and exhibition opportunities. Film Arts Foundation is a catalyst and advocate for the diverse voices of the independent film community on the West Coast and nationally.