An inside joke in the CAMS department is that one of the best film professors on campus is Mary Savina, Professor of Geology (pictured above). Several of Mary's geology majors have gone on to careers in filmmaking, most notably Aleisha Mueller of Reel Nomad Productions and John Fiege of Fiege Films. Mary speculates that the emphasis on developing skills in visual analysis in the Geology curriculum likely has something to do with this trend. CAMS salutes Mary and all of her colleagues in Geology for their outstanding work.
Geology major-turned-filmmaker John Fiege '97 (pictured above) was recently on campus to present his latest documentary to a full house in the Weitz Cinema. Above All Else is a riveting, character-driven story about a man who risks it all to stop the tar sands of the Keystone XL oil pileline from crossing his land. Shot in the forests, pastures, and living rooms of rural East Texas, the film follows David Daniel, a retired stunt man and high wire artist, as he rallies neighbors and activities to join him in a final act of brinksmanship: a tree-top blockade of the controversial pipeline. What begins as a stand against corporate encroachments on one man's land becomes a rallying cry for climate protesters nationwide.
John Fiege is a director, cinematographer and photographer whose films have played at the Cannes Film Festival, SXSW, Museum of Modern Art, and Hot Docs, among many others. Above All Else premiered at the 2014 SXSW Film Festival, with an international premiere at Hot Docs. The film won Best North American Documentary at the Global Visions Festival and a Special Jury Prize at the Dallas International Film Festival. Mississippi Chicken, his intimate portrait of immigrants working in the poultry industry, was nominated for a Gotham Award for “The Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You.” Variously described as “immersive,” “saturated,” “patient,” and “precise,” his distinct cinematic approach translates the political into the personal. He recently photographed the 2014 Sundance documentary selection, No No: A Dockumentary. He holds a B.A. from Carleton College, an M.S. in cultural geography and environmental history from The Pennsylvania State University, and an M.F.A. in film production from the University of Texas at Austin, where he has also worked as a lecturer.
Group Selfie in the Weitz Center: Geology Major filmmakers Aleisha Mueller and John Fiege (in front) surrounded by CAMS friends Rini Keagy, Luke Reppe, John Schott and Carol Donelan.