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New Jersey Film Festival Premieres the Environmental Documentary Rodents Of Unusual Size on Friday, September 28!


By Al Nigrin

originally published: 09/26/2018

New Jersey Film Festival Premieres the Environmental Documentary Rodents Of Unusual Size on Friday, September 28!

The New Jersey Film Festival Premieres the Environmental Documentary Rodents Of Unusual Size on Friday, September 2

Here is the interview I conducted with Chris Metzler who is one of the film’s co-directors:

Nigrin:    Your documentary Rodents Of Unusual Size is about the impact of climate change and how nature is thrown out of balance in Louisiana. Please tell us more about your film and how you decided to make it? 

Metzler:   We see the story of this most unlikely invasive species as an entry-point to a unique part of the world that is rapidly changing before our eyes. We wanted to document the place at this moment of time and the nutria served as a  good through-line.



 
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Nigrin:   How did you hook up with the fisherman Thomas Gonzalez? What was it like filming in Louisiana?

Metzler:   We were cold calling a bunch of nutria hunters ahead of our trip to Louisiana and somebody suggested “you know, if you really want to know what it’s like down here you should really talk to my friend Thomas Gonzalez because he's the king of the nutria hunters.” So he gave us Thomas' number and as soon as he picked up the phone,we knew this was somebody that I really wanted to meet. When we met him for the first time, after about 10 minutes, we were on his boat checking out the area that had been ravaged by hurricanes. He had such a unique and joyful disposition despite having lost everything so many times. That scene made it into the movie. Filming in Louisiana was hot and humid, but beautiful! 

Nigrin:   I know your film points out that it comes down to man vs. rodent but I kind of feel bad for the swamp rats. Do audiences feel the same?

Metzler: So far the reception has been great. We were a bit surprised (given that our film features hunting so prominently) that our most successful screenings have been at environmental film festivals. People seem to be hungry for a positive story with a bit of weirdness.

We hope that the film sparks interest in issues related to invasive species and the danger of nearsighted thinking when we try to bend nature to meet our desire to make a buck.  So in that way we sympathize with the nutria; however, most audiences wind up realizing the need to support the nutria eradication efforts and have appreciated it is an environmentally friendly and sustainable way to solve the problem. With that said, Chris thinks they are fuzzy and cute and wants one as a pet. Jeff and Quinn want to barbecue them up.

Nigrin:   How long did it take to make this film and how did you secure the funding for it?

Metzler:  4 years down the bayous of Louisiana with a lot of sweat equity, support via some small arts grants and then the savior of ITVS as we neared the finish line with a rough cut.  We couldn't have done it without the support of these collaborators.

Here is the trailer for Rodents Of Unusual Size:





 
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The wonderful film The Kingdom: How Fungi Made Our World will precede Rodents Of Unusual Size. Here is more info on this screening:

The Kingdom: How Fungi Made Our World - Annamaria Talas (Newport, NSW, Australia)  The Kingdom tells an incredible story about fungi—organisms that made life on land possible. Neither plants nor animals, fungi represent a third mode of life and belong to their own kingdom.  By studying fungi in the context of evolution and natural history, scientists are making extraordinary, new discoveries about these life-forms. Some fungi may well save us, while others might threaten us, and we are just beginning to understand which is which.  2018; 53 min. 

Rodents Of Unusual Size - Quinn Costello, Chris Metzler & Jeff Springer (San Francisco, California)  Thomas Gonzales, a Louisiana fisherman, doesn't know what will hit him next. After decades of hurricanes and oil spills he faces a new threat: hordes of 20-pound swamp rats. Known as "nutria,” these invasive South American rodents breed faster than the roving squads of hunters can control them. And with their orange teeth and voracious appetite, they are eating up the coastal wetlands that protect Thomas and his town of Delacroix Island from hurricanes. In this documentary about nature thrown out of balance, and the impact of climate change, it comes down to man vs. rodent. 2018; 71 min.  Co-sponsored by the Rutgers University School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) Honors Program and the Rutgers University Cinema Studies Program!!

Friday, September 28, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.


Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University


71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey


$12=General; $10=Students+Seniors; $9=Rutgers Film Co-op Friends


Information: (848) 932-8482; 
www.njfilmfest.com

 




Albert Gabriel Nigrin is an award-winning experimental media artist whose work has been screened on all five continents. He is also a Cinema Studies Lecturer at Rutgers University, and the Executive Director/Curator of the Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, Inc.

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