Documentaries Focused on Global Issues

Documentaries Focused on Global Issues

Photographer, historian and documentary filmmaker Rhett Turner 98 PH talked about his inspiration, his experiences traveling the globe, and his photo and video work in a public conversation with Deborah Bright, Interim Dean of Fine Arts. Turner’s visit in February 2010 was part of the RISD Alumni Lecture Series. In his meetings with students and during the evening presentation, a recurrent theme emerged: tenacity. His advice to young photographers and filmmakers was simple: “if it’s your heart’s desire, stick to your goals and make it work. It can be difficult, but the rewards are enormously satisfying.”

Turner worked for CNN’s Tokyo bureau in the 1980s and 1990s before studying at RISD. After graduating, he started Red Sky Productions and since 1999 has focused on making documentary films for global television audiences and private corporations, including CNN, The Carter Center and the International Crane Foundation. His first documentary film, Pollinators in Peril, is narrated by Peter Fonda. It explores the declining population of honeybees in the U.S. and the impact this has on food supply. His work takes him around the world, and he has now filmed on every continent.

During his conversation with Dean Bright, Turner spoke about the documentary he was working on with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. The piece is about the reintegration of infant gorillas – a species that has been devastated by slaughter – into their natural habitat. He also recently completed a documentary for Georgia Public Broadcasting about three southern states and their 20-year-old struggle over water rights.

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