Filmmaker Stefan Van Norden premieres 'Negotiating with Nature'

BRATTLEBORO - Gardener and independent filmmaker Stefan van Norden will premiere "Negotiating with Nature," a film about our relationship with the natural world, at the Latchis Theatre, 50 Main St., on Saturday, April 14, at 7 p.m.

Compelling and deeply human, the documentary examines how the widening disconnect with nature is shaping our lives, from many perspectives.

"I'm not a filmmaker, I'm a gardener. I decided to make this film because I thought the gardening world was losing its way. We don't need to be telling you how to garden, we need people telling you why to garden," said Van Norden, who is based in Hanover, N.H. "Having a healthy relationship with nature should be a part of who we are, both individually and collectively. We need to start bringing nature home, no matter where home is."

"Negotiating with Nature" explores how both rural and urban gardens hold an important place on our planet. Featuring iconic American landmarks like Central Park, The High Line and Mount Vernon Estate, the film journeys from country to city to unearth "resonant inter-connections between a person and the land," as described by author Annie Bond.

"Negotiating with Nature" rekindles our relationship with nature through a series of interviews with gardeners, government officials, professors, landscape architects, poets and others. His interview subjects include New York City Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, Vermont writer Jay Parini and author, educator and advocate Cheryl Charles. He also interviewed Westminster garden designer - and Latchis Arts Board President - Gordon Hayward.

"The film takes on this vast subject and brings to people-level, to backyard level, to  shovel-in-hand level, while still addressing the big questions," said Hayward.

From Nature Deficit Disorder to our obsessions with technology, few topics are left uncovered, posing tough questions that aim for constructive dialogue and progressive action.

"Negotiating with Nature" runs 58 minutes, and the screening will be followed by a discussion with Van Norden and some of his interview subjects.

Admission to the film is by $12 suggested donation at the door; more is welcome. Proceeds will be shared between the filmmaker, Latchis Arts and the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center.

After its premiere, "Negotiating with Nature" will be shown on Thursday, May 3, at the Arsenal Gallery in New York City. Vermont PBS is scheduled to show the film this summer.

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