On the Wild Side


web cousteau film

By Andrew Rudansky

Celine Cousteau created CauseCentric Productions with the goal of promoting the good works of non-profit organizations from around the globe. It is a non-profit film company that creates short documentaries of other non-profits, several of which will be seen at the Hamptons Conservation & Wildlife Film Festival later this month. Cousteau said that the goal of these short films is to help spread the message of solving ecological and societal problems.

“We are visual creatures,” said Cousteau on why film was the best medium to communicate this message. “So I found that I could tell the people through the visual arts about these groups….and that can influence people.”

Since Cousteau started CauseCentric Productions she has already created three films, each of the documentaries has Cousteau following around a non-profit organization, documenting the good works they do in different parts of the world. All three of the films will be shown at the upcoming Hamptons Conservation & Wildlife Film Festival at the Bay Street Theatre, September 23-25.

All of the films that are being presented in the upcoming film festival, well over 50, also highlight global environmental problems and the people trying to solve them. The festival was created last year to highlight environmental issues around the world through short and feature length documentary films.

Cousteau will be personally presenting one of her three CauseCentric films, “Amazon Promise,” at the festival’s fundraising gala on Saturday, September 24.

The film follows around Patty Webster the founder and president of Amazon Promise, a non-profit dedicated to bringing doctors and medical treatment to the remote regions of the Amazon rainforest. Webster used to be an adventure tourism guide in the rainforest, but after witnessing the haphazard and in some cases non-existent state of healthcare in the region; she decided she wanted to do more.

The documentary, filmed in 2008 in the Amazon region of Peru, shows Webster and the Amazon Promise medical team working in remote Peruvian villages, providing basic medical treatment for people in desperate need. The doctors in the film donated their money and time to help provide this medical care. For Cousteau’s part, after she completed the short film, she gave the video to Amazon Promise to use as a fundraising tool for the organization.

“[The film] gives them a tool to communicate, that’s something that a lot of non-profits don’t have the ability to do…I realized that with the ability to do these short films, that I am able to lend a hand to these non-profit organizations.”

After the film, Cousteau will be part of a panel discussion with other film directors and also hold an informal Q&A about the film and her personal experiences following around the doctors in Amazon Promise.

“It is a motivation tool,” she said. “I realized that with the ability to do these short films…that I am able to lend a hand to these non-profit organizations.”

Cousteau’s other two short films scheduled the film festival similarly focus on the charitable works of non-profit organizations. “Green Chimneys” explores the work of Dr. Samuel B. Ross, founder and executive director of Green Chimney, a school in Brewster, New York that deals with behavioral, social and mental disorders through the use of animal assistance therapy.

“Essentially the animals are brought in because they are rescue animals or horses that can’t be ridden any more…and the animals and the people, they heal together,” said Cousteau.

The third film has Cousteau following around Pete Luswata, the founder of the Uganda Rural Community Support Foundation (URCSF). Cousteau traveled to the AIDS-stricken Rakai District in Southern Uganda in 2009, where she documented Luswata and the URCSF training the Ugandans in basic agricultural processes.

A fourth film about the use of medicinal herbs in the tribal regions of Papua New Guinea has already been filmed and is currently in post-production.

“All of these films are stories about heroes,” said Cousteau.

She said that she likes to focus on the people in this world who are making a difference in their communities because they can act as inspiration to other people. Cousteau said the goal of all of her films is to get people involved with the various non-profits.

“Hopefully they will inspire and motivate the audience to do more,” she said. “I would like [the audience] to get a more broad understanding of all of the incredible people who are looking for solutions in our environment and our culture.”

Tickets for a two-hour film session at the festival are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. Tickets for Saturday’s gala are $95, while a full film festival pass are $250. More information and advanced tickets can be purchased through the Bay Street Box office at 725-9500 or by calling 610-896-4776.