New Organization Will Advance PBS Flagship Station in Southern California and Expand Original Content Creation and Innovation for Public Media Locally, and Across the Nation
LOS ANGELES, April 25, 2018 — KCETLink Media Group (KCET), a leading national independent broadcast and digital network, and PBS SoCal (KOCE), the flagship PBS organization for Southern California, today announced an agreement to merge the two companies. The merger of equals creates a center for public media innovation and creativity that serves the more than 18 million people living in the Southern California region. The name of the new organization will be announced with the closing of the merger, which is expected to be completed in the first half of 2018.
Establishing a powerful PBS flagship organization on the West Coast, the historic union of these two storied institutions creates the opportunity to produce more original programs for multiple channels and platforms that address the diverse community in Southern California and the nation, and innovate new community engagement experiences that educate, inform, entertain, and empower.
KCET Board of Directors Chairman Dick Cook will serve as Board Chair, and PBS SoCal President and CEO Andrew Russell will be President and CEO of the new entity, which will be governed by a 32-person Board of Trustees composed of the 14 members from each of the boards of KCETLink and PBS SoCal, as well as four new Board appointees.
“Fifty years ago, a surge of innovation and inspiration created public television as we know it today,” said KCETLink Board Chair Dick Cook and Jim McCluney, Chairman of the PBS SoCal Board of Trustees, in a joint statement. “In this dynamic time for
media, this is exactly the right moment to marry the complementary core strengths of each of our organizations. Our new company combines PBS SoCal’s beloved quality programming and community engagement excellence with KCETLink’s passion for creating smart, original content that captures the spirit of the region. We are very excited to advance content creation in public media and continue to successfully implement innovative technologies to reach new and diverse audiences.”
“We believe our calling — to tell stories that matter — is essential, and will become even more so in the future,” said Mr. Russell. “Southern California is a global center for innovation, a trend-setter, and home to the world’s foremost creative
talent. Together, we will tell more stories that matter, and better serve our region — one of the most diverse places in the country – and our nation.”
Over the past seven years, PBS SoCal and KCETLink have built two unique public media institutions – each making significant contributions to the advancement of public media. Together, they form a vibrant and financially strong public media institution, ensuring future generations have access to all its vital services.
The newly merged organization will also play a unique role within PBS.
“We are pleased that this merger will bring the combined forces of KCETLink and PBS SoCal together to serve the people of Southern California with high-quality PBS content and services,” said PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger. “We know this new entity will be a great partner to PBS and will help strengthen the broader public television system.”
“The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is pleased that our longstanding goal and efforts to encourage the merger of public television stations KCET and KOCE will be realized,” said Pat Harrison, CPB President and CEO.~“As a result, citizens in
Greater Los Angeles, and across Southern California, will benefit from the combined strengths and capacities of these two stations-especially the increased ability to produce content for diverse local audiences as well as national audiences.”~
The new organization will continue to operate from KCET’s and PBS SoCal’s existing Southern California locations in Burbank, Costa Mesa and Los Angeles. There will be no immediate changes to broadcast operations or program schedules on any of the
stations’ channels during the merger transition period. The merger process was led by committees within the Boards of each organization with PBS SoCal’s Committee chaired by Marc Stern and KCETLinkís Committee chaired by Gordon Bava. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.
ABOUT KCETLINK MEDIA GROUP
KCETLink Media Group is a leading national independent, nonprofit, digital and broadcast network that provides high-quality, culturally diverse programming designed to engage the public in innovative, entertaining and transformative ways. A viewer-supported 501(c)(3) organization, KCETLink is committed to independent perspectives, smart global entertainment, local communities, and opportunities for engagement and social action. KCETLink content is distributed nationally on Link TV via satellite on DIRECTV channel 375 and DISH Network channel 9410 and on KCET in Southern and Central California via broadcast and cable, as well as through digital delivery systems including Apple TV, Amazon and Roku. Through acclaimed original
programming, KCET amplifies the critical issues of the Southern California region, while Link TV depicts people and the world through a lens seldom available in conventional American media. For additional information about KCET and Link TV productions, web-exclusive content, programming schedules and community events, please visit kcet.org or linktv.org.
ABOUT PBS SOCAL KOCE
PBS SoCal KOCE is the flagship PBS station for 18 million diverse people across Southern California. As a member-supported non-profit organization, our mission is to deliver content and experiences that inspire, inform and entertain — over the air,
online, in the community and in the classroom. PBS SoCal provides beloved PBS programs including MASTERPIECE, NOVA, PBS NewsHour, Frontline, Independent Lens, a broad library of documentary films including works from Ken Burns, and educational PBS KIDS programs including Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Curious George. Our programs are accessible for free through four broadcast channels, and available for streaming at pbssocal.org, on the PBS mobile apps, and via connected TV services Android TV, Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. Through PBS SoCal LIVE, we provide in-person arts, culture and civic engagement experiences. And we support our youngest Southern Californians with essential early childhood education content and services. Connect with PBS SoCal at pbsssocal.org, and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Santa Monica, California (The Hollywood Times) 4/24/2018 – “We have a series called Earth Focus, produced in partnership with Thomson Reuters foundation, which was launched in 2007. It is the longest running environmental TV shows in the United States.” Juan Devis, KCETLink Chief Creative Officer told The Hollywood Times on Saturday.
“We have a very exciting new season starting on Wednesday, both nationally and locally on KCET. What we are trying to do this season is share a global story with a local story, that have a connection. How either climate change is effecting them in similar ways but in completely different parts of the globe. Bring two stories together in one.” Said Juan.
Juan mentioned that they almost didn’t have the second annual Earth Focus Environmental Film Festival because of limited resources a public television station to organize a film festival.
“I know this festival will grow because people are hungry for this type of content and get involved and figure out how to get activated. If we can be part of that, we are going to go forward with it.” Juan said.
Lek told The Hollywood Times that Noi Na, the elephant that was recused and the star of Ashley Bell’s documentary Love and Bananas: An Elephant Story, was very happy, she was for the first time playing with a ball and was swinging her truck. She has two friends now. Check out Lek’s facebook page to find out more about Noi Na and Lek’s Elephant Nature Park: https://www.facebook.com/lek.chailert
The Hollywood Times presented Lek with a vest hooded sweater with an embroidered Dumbo on the chest and a couple of Disneyland Dumbo pins. She was so happy to receive them.
She asks people reading this article to know she needs a voice to help with the education of elephants in service. Not to ride elephants, the elephants are overworked and not properly cared for and even work when they are pregnant and at times lose their baby. Do not buy painting done by elephants or go to circuses that have elephants there.
Raphael Sbarge: “The first one is always the hardest and now it actually feels like it has some momentum. There is a great vibe here, the fact that this is the only environmental film festival in Los Angeles is just crazy, right! You would think there would be many of them here. It is part of KCET’s commitment to the environment, speaking locally and tapping into the incredible pool of filmmakers and actors and people who really care about this.”
“It is so great and the fact that they are sold out speaks for itself. A spike in the curve in terms of awareness and a receptive audience.”
Maggie Q: “I will be introducing the movie tonight and it was a wonderful movie and I hate what we are doing to the animals. It does affect me a great deal.”
Patrick Fabian told The Hollywood Times and we was bringing his two daughters to the film festival and he was looking forward to watching the movie “Jane” with him.
He was also glad to hear that KCET was having the second annual Earth Focus Environmental Film Festival this year and he was happy to provide his support and looks forward for many more Environmental film festival in the years to come.
John Michael McCarthy, the writer and director of Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story told The Hollywood Times that this was a memorable experience for his being part of this elephant rescue and being in a truck with a 70-year old captive partially blind Asian elephant for 48 hours was somewhat intimidating. He is very proud of the work they all did on this amazing film and hopes that folks will go out to see it to be award of the abuse of service elephants.
Over Earth Day Weekend, KCET Hosted Private Advance Screening of ‘Love and Bananas: An Elephant Story’ at Sony Studios Introduced by Maggie Q To Kick Off EARTH FOCUS Environmental Film Festival
Celebrities Kim Delaney, Patrick Fabian, Sharon Lawrence and Raphael Sbarge Introduced Environmental-Themed Films at LA’s Only Green Film Festival During All Day, Open to the Public Event on Saturday, April 21 in Santa Monica Supported by Region’s Most Influential Environmental Organizations.
From Left to Right: Patrick Fabian, Kim Delaney, and Raphael Sbarge introduce films at EARTH FOCUS Environmental Film Festival. Maggie Q introduces the West Coast Premiere of Love and Bananas: An Elephant Story at Sony Studios’ Opening Night Event. A full day of environmental films was open to the public at Santa Monica’s Laemmle Theatre for KCET’s second annual EARTH FOCUS Environmental Film Festival.
On Fri., April 20 from 6:30-10:30 pm, KCET kicked off the second annual [ http://www.KCET.org/green ]EARTH FOCUS Environmental Film Festival, LA’s only environmental film festival, with an exclusive screening of Abramorama’s Love and Bananas: An Elephant
Story at Sony Studios’ classic Kim Novak Theatre followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers.
Actress and environmentalist Maggie Q (Designated Survivor, Divergent, Nikita) hosted the opening night event. Guests on Friday night were welcomed with opening remarks from KCETLink Media Group’s Chief Creative Officer Juan Devis followed by introductions of the documentary from actress / filmmaker Ashley Bell and actress Maggie Q.
The event began with a green carpet reception attended by actor Dylan McDermott (LA to Vegas, Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Practice), actress Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Training Day, Blindspot, Broadchurch), Actress Reylynn Caster (Me, Myself and I), Actress Sara Rue (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Will & Grace), activist and host Sarain Fox (Viceland’s RISE, Future History), Actress Briana Evigan (Step Up 2: The Streets, Sorority Row), Kat Kramer (Little Fockers), Actor Michael Nouri (American Crime Story, Damages, Flashdance), former Anchor of KCET’s SoCal Connected Val Zavala, Hosts of KCET’s Globe Trekker Brianna Barnes and Zay Harding as well as many more.
The opening night film was followed by a post-screening Q&A with filmmakers Ashley Bell, Roddy Tabatabai and John Michael McCarthy, Executive Producer David Casselman as well as the film’s Sangdeaun~Lek Chailert moderated by KCET MUST SEE MOVIES host and Deadline chief film critic Pete Hammond.
Actor and filmmaker Raphael Sbarge (Once Upon a Time, Longmire), actor Patrick Fabian (Better Call Saul), and actress Sharon Lawrence (NYPD Blue, Queen Sugar, The Ranch) were also in attendance and acted as presenters for the full day festival on Sat., April 21, along with actress Kim Delaney (Chicago Fire, The Oath, Army Wives, NYPD Blue) at Santa Monica’s Laemmle Monica Film Center from 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sat., April 21.
A full day of environmentally-themed films open to the public, with many of the films free of charge, kicked off with an environmental shorts screening from UCLA’s Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies (LENS) program followed by four acclaimed films (March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step, Evolution of Organic, The Last Animals and Jane) and closed with a screening of two all-new episodes of KCET and Link TV’s EARTH FOCUS, the longest running environmental news magazine on U.S. television. Each film was introduced by a celebrity host and followed by a Q&A panel. More information about the screenings and the Q&A sessions that followed can be found at KCET.org/green.
All five of the movies shown this year, were educational, informative and eye-openers. The Q&As after each film where truly worth staying after the movie to listen to.
Don’t forget to turn into KCET tomorrow, Wednesday, April 25th –
Louisiana still is learning from Hurricane Katrina. Forecasts are dire for Louisiana to experience the second-highest sea level rise in the world. There is a big movement brewing in New Orleans to build adaptive “resilience zones.” In Southeast Louisiana, the native peoples of the Isle de Jean Charles have become the first U.S citizens moving within their homeland displaced by climate change.
WednesdayApr25, 8:30 PM PT
WednesdayApr25, 10:30 PM PT
FridayApr27, 7:30 AM PT
The 2018 EARTH FOCUS ENVIRONMENTAL FILM FESTIVAL was in partnership with Sony Pictures Television Networks’ Picture This Festival For The Planet along with sponsors including Thomson Reuters Foundation, Deadline.com, UCLA’s LENS program, the International Documentary Association (IDA) and Motev, an environmentally conscious global executive transportation service.
The EARTH FOCUS ENVIRONMENTAL FILM FESTIVAL also showcased green organizations in Los Angeles that included Heal The Bay, River LA, Sierra Club, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Project Save Our Surf and L.A. Works with tables upstairs in the mezzanine area at the Laemmle’s Monica offering important environmental educational information and volunteer opportunities to attendees.
Saturday’s event was attended by over 300 people committed to bringing environmental awareness and dialogue to our community with the hopes of helping save our planet for tomorrow.
Hollywood, California (The Hollywood Times) 4/17/2018 – “I am so excited to have been recognized by KCET and to have the opportunity to come out on a wide platform and getting the nationwide release that Abramorama is giving us.” Ashley Bell, director of “Love and Bananas: An Elephant Story” told The Hollywood Times.
This #EarthDay, discover the beauty of Asian Elephants and learn how their future is in jeopardy. Love And Bananas comes to theaters April 22, 2018 and tells the unlikely story of how a 70-year old Asian Elephant named Noi Na was rescued from a Thai trekking camp. Find a screening near you at http://loveandbananas.com/screenings/ #LoveAndBananas
Elephant rescues in Thailand are rare, unpredictable and often life threatening. Join a team of extraordinary people who race against the clock to save Noi Na, a 70-year old captive Thai trekking elephant in the new documentary Love And Bananas. Learn more at http://www.loveandbananas.com
Ashley Bell and a team of elephant rescuers, led by world-renowned Asian elephant conservationist Sangdeaun Lek Chailert, embark on a daring 48-hour mission, 500 miles across Thailand to rescue a 70-year old captive blind Asian elephant and bring her to freedom. “Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story” is a heartwarming and hopeful film that exposes the plight of Asian elephants and the people who work tirelessly to save them.
Interview with Ashley Bell:
THT: “How exciting to have your movie première at the KCET Environmental Film Festival this Friday night.”
Ashley Bell: “It’s very surreal to think that a couple of years ago I was literally on the back of a truck with an 8,000 pound elephant covered in mud racing her to freedom and the fact that we are having the opportunity to have our LA première on the Sony Pictures lot with KCET, is a huge honor for me.”
THT: “I was lucky enough to preview this movie this weekend and I want to know how nervous were you riding in the back of that truck?”
Ashley: “Pretty nervous (with laughter). It hit me like a wave when that journey began with the severity of the situation that we were in. Noi Na got heat stroke on the truck and almost tipped it over. When the voyage began we were barreling down the super highway in Thailand with this huge elephant that was very scared, the truck got very quiet and our conservationist Lek got quite. When I saw her get quite, I knew that things were getting into a very sensitive and dangerous zone. The way she read Noi Na’s body language was one of the most fascination things I have ever witnessed. She explained to the camera what was happening with her. Noi Na refused to eat, she wasn’t drinking water, and she kept a small piece of corn tucked inside her mouth. She is partially blinded, so she can see out one eye, but here head was moving in a phonetic way, because she was trying to understand what was going on. For all Noi Na knew, that truck meant she was going to another logging camp, trekking facility or for more service. Who was she to know she was on her way to freedom.”
“What separated Lek and I from Noi Na were just two beams. I put my hand on the beam and Lek took my hand and moved it to the other side just in case Noi Na would make a surge to go forward. Lek did not want my hand to get broken in two. It was in that moment that it dawned upon me, my God this is just another day for this elephant, this is the life of a captive service elephant and this is what is normal for them. It was very quiet on those moments on the truck. We had 22 hours ahead of us throughout the night.”
THT: “How did the making of this documentary movie make you feel?”
Ashley: “Incredibly humble and incredibly grateful. I’ve known about Lek’s work as a kid growing up and before I met her, I had heard of this rock star elephant whisper/conservationist. When I met her, I was pretty tongue-tied, because Lek is on the frontline with every single day, in grave danger, fighting to protect this species and she trusted us, she let us accompanying her on an elephant rescue. She took us under her wings in the sanctuary and she showed us what happens when you take the chains off and let an elephant be an elephant.
She regards elephants like people, by saying that, she treats them with dignity and respect. How severely Asian elephants are abused and broken, you can feel them with love. I am a very skeptical person, but I saw it with my own eyes and what I saw were miracles. Our job, when she trusted us with her undercover footage, her undercover story, we were allowed to interview people in Thailand, that opened up to us, our job was to get it right before it was too late.”
THT: “Has your movie been at other film festivals?”
Ashley: “We had our world première at the DC Environmental Film Festival and you hope there are more than just 15 people. When we got there it was sold out and the audience was filled with kids and teenagers and that really was the audience we all strove to make the film for and make it feel safe for kids to come see”.
“Kids are super savvy and everything must be completely authentic, so we wanted to take people on an action packed rescue, and we are happy it landing with a younger audience.”
THT: “This movie brought me to tears and it was even hard to get through this interview, but okay, I did cry talking with Ashley.
She was kind enough to console me and to tell me she had that same reaction as well.”
Ashley: “When you know better, you do better. I was born and raised a vegetarian and always thought I was eco aware and environmentally savvy or just aware, an aware human. I saw as a teenager in US Weekly, some celebrity going on an elephant ride and I said, ‘oh, I want to do that,’ and my Dad said at the time ‘oh do you know what it takes to get them there?’ I didn’t and there is a saying now with every single environmentalist that they have a fur jacket in their closet, that is just a saying and it’s a thought that when you know better you do better. Nobody really knows the truth about elephant rides, elephant paintings, behind elephant polo or just seeing elephants in service. I am so unbelievably moved by your reaction because that was my aha moment. I have to use the resources I have at my disposable to do something. That was partnering with Change For Balance Productions and setting out to making a documentary about this.”
THT: “When did you actually finish the movie?”
Ashley: “About one year ago this month. We filmed for two weeks in Thailand and some in Cambodia. Going in we knew the story that we wanted to tell and we wanted to take people on an elephant rescue. That was always going to be the heart of the film. So that rescue took place over 22 hours and once we got there, via a Facebook message from Lek. I had about 48 hours to assemble a crew of three guys and take a redeye flight over to Thailand. When we woke up the next night we were on the back of that truck heading down to the rescue and it happened quickly because we waited two and half years for an elephant rescue to happen. There were false starts where elephants were up for rescue, but before Lek could get to them, they had been sold off to do circuses. We joke and say we had like a baby bag by the door because as soon as we go the call we have to leave right then.”
THT: “Can you image Lek, this tiny woman a true elephant whisper?”
Ashley: “Can you believe it. Like getting any type of tap from an elephant’s knee felt like whiplash. I felt save around and under the elephants because I was with Lek and we are warned to give space to the elephants on the sanctuary land because the elephants are under a great deal of psychological stress and physical impairment. Because Lek is their mom, she is the matriarch of their society. Lek is the elephant whisper. I have never seen anybody as effortlessly, constantly give energy forward. I mean that in the sense of it’s just so fluid, that she is continuing to contribute to the animals, the environment and the betterment of the society that she is in. She does that without break and without hesitation.
She sleeps about four hours a night in a room above her office with a bed full of dogs and a bunch of dogs on the ground and a husband.”
THT: “Are the dogs good with the elephants, is it therapeutic for both the dogs and elephants?”
Ashley: “They are great together. It is insane, you see this herd of about 90 elephants roaming around the sanctuary and 400 rescue dogs. A herd of buffalo and a couple of pigs. Everybody is in perfect harmony and Lek is on her bike riding around and it is Utopia!”
“When Lek starts a sanctuary, she makes sure to take care of the whole surrounding village. She is providing school for all the local kids, she provides satellite and medical equipment, running water and she also provides jobs for the local villagers so that they don’t need to illegally poach and have a steady income on the sanctuary land. When she loads in that model, the whole area flourishes. Both the villagers, the environment, the forest that they are in and the sanctuary they are in. She was stuffing the bananas with de-worming medication to take care of the elephants as she was doing an interview. Then she stocked piled a mound of clothes and toys that she brought from the main village to give to all the villagers and their children. As she was doing this, someone complimented her shoes and she took them off her feet and gave them to this woman who had no shoes. That was day one!”
“If we all had one percent of Lek we could do something great with the world…”
“If truly been an honor to tell this story and our only job was to get it right.”
“There are around 415,000 African elephants left in the world, but only about 40-45,000 Asian elephants and they are endangered species of the two. In some parts of southern China, they are functionally extinct, meaning they don’t have a herd big enough to properly reproduce. We are there. I have been asked ‘why should I care about an Asian elephants, what can these elephants do for me?’ Which is a painful question because I wouldn’t think that you would have to explain the importance of a species by justifying their life on earth.”
“Asian elephants are a keystone species. Their existence provides environment, food and shelter and a whole ecosystem for a multitude of other species that they live with. They have actually linked Asian elephants to helping fight climate change. When an elephant goes through a jungle, they carve their path and eat a bunch of food and when they produce waste, out sprouts a kind of new jungle and they found that areas with Asian elephants show that there is a more densely populated forest and jungle and greenery.” With a species this huge, we do not know the ramification of what will happen when they are gone and we have to do something to stop it before it is too late.”
Publication from the WWF on Asian Elephants and Climate Change:
THT: “People argue that many animals have gone extinct without man, I say, who cares, they are going to continue to go extinct, but when man has something to do with it, we need to do something about that!”
THT: “What would you like to say about this new environmental documentary film?
Ashley: “Come on this journey. Even in the making of it, it’s a documentary, but I set out to not make a documentary, but to take audiences on a journey and on an elephant rescue. So join the rescue and join king banana, join the herd!”
THT: “How is Noi Na doing?”
Ashley: “As of now she has made two new friends and Lek said that Noi Na is still eating extending her truck and not going up to the food and eat, it’s like in her mind she is still chained. So when she eats she never approaches the food she just reaches out with her trunk. Psychologically she is still in chains to this day, but she does spend her days down by the river and she loves to go swimming.”
THT: “What is Lek up to these days?”
Ashley: “There are 12 satellite camps that have done the humane conversion. Where they were trekking camps and they changed their model to be humane sanctuaries.”
“All throughout southern Thailand and Lek again provides all the resources to that camp to help them with volunteers and switching the elephants from chains to living more humanly. She has a whole team that assists with that so that the trekking owners won’t feel alone in the process. In doing this they are much more profitable than they ever were as trekking camps.”
“People are becoming more and more aware of wanting to be with elephants as elephants and not wanting to ride an elephant or see them in entertainment, that is just further proof that when you know better you do better.”
Ashley said that Lek will be here in Los Angeles for the KCET première on Friday at Sony studios.
“On Sunday, April 22nd we are going to be having a nationwide screening day on Earth Day of Love & Bananas all across the country and in the California locations Lek, myself and Change for Balance Productions, our production company will be doing Q&As and Skype.” Ashley said.
“Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story” is truly a movie you should take your children, especially teenage children to see. It is a powerful and emotional movie that we all need to see as to bring awareness of what happens to service elephants. We must do something to help save this species before they are all gone. Don’t miss your opportunity this Earth Day Sunday, April 22nd. Here are the cities that will be showing this amazing movie:
Directed by: Ashley Bell (The Last Exorcism I & II,Carnage Park, Novitiate)
Written by: Ashley Bell, John Michael McCarthy and Fernanda Rossi
Executive produced by: Steve Bannerman, David Casselman, Pam Casselman, Ian Hultquist, Sofia Hultquist, Samantha Housman, Leandro Marini, and Roddy Tabatabai
Produced by: Ashley Bell, John Michael McCarthy and Ross M. Dinerstein
Ashley Bell: Director, Producer, Writer
An actress across film, television and theater, Ashley Bell is most recognizable for her critically acclaimed role in “The Last Exorcism,” for which she earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress and an MTV Movie Award nomination. The New York Post praised Bell’s acting as “Oscar-worthy” and one of the 10 best performances of 2010 for her extraordinary portrayal of the possessed Nell Sweetzer. She reprised her role in “The Last Exorcism Part II” in 2013 and yet again received high praise.
Bell has since crossed genres, and in 2014 she made her Broadway début in the revival of the 1920’s expressionistic drama “Machinal,” alongside Rebecca Hall and directed by Lyndsey Turner. Since then, Bell’s projects have been a staple in the independent film festival circuit, with premieres at Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca and TIFF. Bell most recently starred in Mickey Keating’s feature film “Psychopaths” (Tribeca Film Festival 2017,) and the drama “Novitiate” (Sundance 2017). Additionally, Bell has completed production on the indie dramas “Next Door” and “The Swerve,” and the motion capture video game “Scalebound.” In 2016, Bell starred in Mickey Keating’s indie film “Carnage Park,” which premiered at Sundance, and for which she received rave reviews.
Bell directed, wrote and produced the feature documentary entitled “Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story,” which depicts the rescue of a blind Asian elephant from captivity in Thailand and her journey 500 miles to freedom.
It will be released nationwide in theaters this April by Abramorama. Additionally, Bell serves as an US Ambassador for Cruelty Free International.
Bell’s expansive list of film credits include the romantic comedy “Love & Air Sex,” directed by fellow Spirit Award nominee Bryan Poser, which premiered at SXSW; the romantic drama “From Above,” co-starring Danny Glover; the post-apocalyptic thriller “The Day,” starring opposite Shawn Ashmore and Dominic Monaghan, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival; the coming of age indie “There’s a New World Somewhere”; the noir feature film “Sparks,” based on the graphic comic; and the WWE’s action film “The Marine: Homefront.” Her television credits include AMC’s “The Walking Dead” webisode series “The Oath,” Lifetime’s “Don’t Wake Mommy,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “The United States of Tara.”
In 2012, Bell lent her voice to the animated series “The LeBrons,” starring NBA player LeBron James. Her voice has also been featured in several top-selling video games, including the lead role of Erline in Sony PlayStation’s “Sorcery” and The White Queen in Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland.”
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Bell is the daughter of actor/voice animator Michael Bell and actress and Groundlings co-founder Victoria Carroll. She studied acting and directing at Cambridge University, where she was awarded “Best Actress” for her portrayal of “Ophelia.” Bell later graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with honors, and was mentored by Oscar nominee Kathleen Turner.
Sangdeaun Lek Chailert: Herself, Founder Save Elephant Foundation
Sangdeaun Chailert, also known as Lek, which means “small” in Thai, was born in Thailand in 1962. In return for saving the life of a young man, her grandfather, a shaman or traditional healer, was given an elephant named Tong Kam, meaning Golden One. The bond that developed between Lek and Tong Kam sparked a love and respect for elephants that have shaped the course of her life.
After graduating from Chiang Mai University with an Arts degree, Lek worked in the tourist industry, where she became aware of the plight of the Asian elephant. She began championing the rights of elephants by raising public awareness of their situation and providing medical aid to elephants in remote villages.
In the 1990’s, Lek started rescuing injured, neglected, and elderly elephants and in 2003 was able to establish a permanent homeland for them in the picturesque Mae Taeng valley, near Chiang Mai, in Northern Thailand. She named this land Elephant Nature Park. Today, Elephant Nature Park is home to over 70 elephants that are able to roam freely during the day, live within family herds and develop close friendships with each other.
Elephants at the park are not required to work, do not perform tricks, and are not ridden, but instead, are allowed to live a natural life.
Lek is an award-winning conservationist, who has been working for over two decades to improve the conditions of elephants in Asia and promote their welfare.
Her work has received international acclaim and has been documented by National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, CNN, and the BBC, as well as print media around the world. In 2005, Lek was honored by Time Magazine as the “Hero of Asia” for her work to protect Asian elephants.
In 2010, she was honored by Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton as one of six Woman Heroes of Global Conservation and recently, in 2017, Lek was invited to attend and speak at the “Global Pact for the Environment” Summit at the United Nations, New York, by President Macron of France.
Today, Lek continues to be at the forefront of elephant (and other animal rights causes), raising international awareness and encouraging other countries in the region to follow her lead, as well as helping provide sustainable alternatives to local villages.
She has initiated projects in Thailand, Cambodia, and Myanmar and maintains special relationships with the animals she rescues. Most days, she can be found at Elephant Nature Park spending time with the rescued herd.
Why Elephants are Important
Elephants are among the most intelligent of the creatures with whom we share the planet, with complex consciousness that are capable of strong emotions. Across Africa they have inspired respect from the people who share the landscape with them, giving them a strong cultural significance. As icons of the continent elephants are tourism magnets, attracting funding that helps protect wilderness areas. They are also keystone species, playing an important role in maintaining the biodiversity of the ecosystems in which they live.
During the dry season, elephants use their tusks to dig for water. This not only allows the elephants to survive in dry environments and when droughts strike, but also provides water for other animals that share harsh habitats.
When forest elephants eat, they create gaps in the vegetation. These gaps allow new plants to grow and create pathways for other smaller animals to use. They are also one of the major ways in which trees disperse their seeds; some species rely entirely upon elephants for seed dispersal.
On the savannahs, elephants feeding on tree sprouts and shrubs help to keep the plains open and able to support the plains game that inhabit these ecosystems.
Wherever they live, elephants leave dung that is full of seeds from the many plants they eat. When this dung is deposited the seeds are sown and grow into new grasses, bushes and trees, boosting the health of the savannah ecosystem.
From Baby to Adolescence
A baby elephant weighs about 200-250 lbs. (91-113 kilgograms). At birth, a calf’s trunk has little muscle tone and no coordination. It takes several months for a calf to gain full control of its trunk. Baby elephants suckle through their mouth. Young Asian elephants are reported to stand soon after birth. After several months, the calf begins to eat grass and foliage. It stays under the supervision of its mother for several years, but begins making independent movements at four years. Full size is attained at about 18-24 years.
From KCET and Link TV Announces 2018 Lineup for Earth Day Weekend
By: Judy Shields
West Coast Premiere of ‘Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story’ at Sony Studios Friday, April 20th
Saturday, April 21 All-Day Festival Features Celebrity Introduced Screenings – Followed by Q&A Panels; Kicks Off With Free Screening of Hulu Original Documentary March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step’ Plus National Geographic’s ‘Jane,’ ‘The Last Animals,’ ‘Evolution of Organic’ and Closing Night Screening of Environmental Documentary Series ‘Earth Focus’
KCETLink Media Group, a leading national independent broadcast and digital media network, has announced that its two services, KCET public television in Los Angeles and independent satellite network Link TV, will launch the second annual EARTH FOCUS ENVIRONMENTAL FILM FESTIVAL, the only festival of its kind in Los Angeles on April 20, 2018, with a private opening night reception and West Coast premiere of Abramorama’s “Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story” followed by a full day of environmental-themed films, many of which are free and open to the public to attend. The film from actress/filmmaker Ashley Bell follows a daring 48-hour mission across Thailand to rescue a captive Asian elephant and set her free. The screening will take place at Sony Pictures Studios Kim Novak Theatre. A post-screening Q&A will follow with filmmakers Ashley Bell, Roddy Tabatabai and John Michael McCarthy, Executive Producer David Casselman as well as the film’s SangdeaunLek Chailert moderated by KCETMUST SEE MOVIES host and Deadline chief film critic Pete Hammond. This presentation continues KCETLink’s commitment to educating audiences about the global elephant poaching crisis following its 2016 award-winning campaign for EARTH FOCUS: Illicit Ivory. KCET and Link TV have partnered with the Save Elephant Foundation, a Thai non–profit organization dedicated to providing care and assistance to Thailand’s captive elephant population through a multifaceted approach involving local community outreach, rescue and rehabilitation programs and educational ecotourism operations.
“Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story” follows filmmaker Bell, and a team of elephant rescuers led by world renowned Asian elephant conservationist and TIME Magazine’s “Hero of Asia,” SangdeaunLek Chailert, as they embark on a daring mission 480 miles across Thailand to rescue a 70-year old partially blind trekking elephant and bring her to freedom. The film aims to ignite a new way of thinking about this species and shows us what can be done to prevent the extinction of Asian elephants. The rapidly decreasing numbers of elephants in the world, combined with the popularity of elephant trekking camps and recent announcement to lift a ban on “trophy” elephant imports, makes this a timely and important film as it presents a solution to the problem. The film depicts a better way to co-exist with and enjoy elephants that will not put them at risk. The film is written and directed by Bell, John Michael McCarthy, and Fernanda Rossi, executive produced by Steve Bannerman, David Casselman, Pam Casselman, Ian Hultquist, Sofia Hultquist, Samantha Housman, Leandro Marini, Roddy Tabatabai and produced by Bell, McCarthy and Ross M. Dinerstein. Abramorama is handling the global release and rights management for the film on behalf of production companies Grumble Grumble, Change For Balance and Campfire. http://loveandbananas.com/
Five pair of tickets will be given away to the opening night screening event“Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story” via facebook.com/kcet28. Go to kcet.org/green for details.
“We are committed to bringing environmental awareness and dialogue on multiple platforms through our EARTH FOCUS franchise, and are proud to host the festival as a resource for enlightenment and education,” said Juan Devis, Chief Creative Officer for KCETLink Media Group. “Capitalizing on the success of last year, we’ve been able to curate an incredible lineup that covers a range of issues impacting the environment today. We hope these films can encourage our community here in Southern California to play a part in helping save our planet for tomorrow.”
The Hollywood Times covered last years Environmental Film Festival, and it was outstanding. This year promises to be ever better. Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story is such a touching and heart-warming story, that everyone needs to see when it is released April 22nd, check your local movie theater for showing times. It will change what you thought you knew about elephants in captivity.
Following the opening night event at Sony Pictures Studios, Los Angeles’ only environmental film festival will take place Sat., April 21 from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Laemmle’s Monica Film Center in Santa Monica (1332 2nd St., Santa Monica, CA. 90401) in partnership with Laemmle’s Theatres. The second annual EARTH FOCUS ENVIRONMENTAL FILM FESTIVAL is open to the public kicking off with an environmental shorts screening from UCLA’s Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies (LENS) program followed by four acclaimed films and closing with a screening of two all-new, back-to-back episodes of KCET and Link TV’s EARTH FOCUS, the longest running environmental news magazine on U.S. television. The screening will premiere two episodes from the new season, exploring how environmental changes are forcing all living creatures to adapt in order to survive. The series premieres later this month, created in partnership with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Thanks to Green Wish, a grassroots nonprofit that helps other local nonprofit green organizations fund projects for their communities, and Deadline.com, the media sponsor for the festival, celebrity environmental activists including filmmaker/actor Raphael Sbarge (Once Upon A Time, Murder in the First, Longmire), actor Patrick Fabian (Better Call Saul) and actress Sharon Lawrence (Shameless, Queen Sugar, NYPD Blue) will introduce each film that will be followed by post-screening dialogues with the filmmakers. General admission tickets are available starting today at KCET.org/green
Go Metro and take the Expo Line to Downtown Santa Monica Station and walk a quick ten minutes to the festival. Attendees will receive a free KCET hat by showing a TAP card at check in. Additionally, Laemmle’s is offering a special discounted deal of $5 for a popcorn and soda all day to attendees of the festival. More information on Laemmle’s Monica can be found at www.laemmle.com
The schedule (subject to change) for Saturday, April 21 at Laemmle’s Monica Film Center in Santa Monica (1332 2nd St., Santa Monica, CA. 90401 is as follows:
9:30 a.m.: Opening of all-day festival with Heal The Bay, River LA, Sierra Club,Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Project Save Our Surf and L.A. Works in the upstairs mezzanine area of the Laemmle’s Monica Film Center.
In partnership with KCET, UCLA’s Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies (LENS) has launched a yearlong collaboration to create innovative forms of immersive environmental reporting and documentary storytelling. The project brings together UCLA faculty and students from English, Film, Anthropology and Environmental Science and also represents an original collaboration between LENS and UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television. Films being shown include Taylor Yard: A Change of Heart in Los Angeles and Urban Ark Los Angeles introduced by Allison Carruth, LENS Faculty Director. A Q&A following features LENS co-founder Jon Christensen with moderator UCLA Film professor Kristy Guevara-Flanagan.
10 a.m.: “March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step” (Total Running Time 1 hr. 15 min.) – FREE!
Filmmaker Luc Jacquet returns to the Antarctic to revisit the Emperor Penguins who call the frozen continent home. A decade after making his Academy Award® winning March of the Penguins, Jacquet spent two months shooting in the Antarctic winter using the new technology of 4K cameras, airborne drones, and under-ice diving to show the astonishing lives of these mysterious creatures in an entirely new light.
The film tells the story of two penguins, a father and son, as they face and overcome the almost unimaginable challenges of life in this hostile land. Introduced by actress Sharon Lawrence. Q&A following with Sara Mandel, aviculturist (bird expert) in charge of the June Keyes Penguin Habitat at Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific, and moderated by Sharon Lawrence.
11 a.m.: “The Last Animals” (Total Running Time 1 hr. 32 min.)
Conflict photographer Kate Brooks turns her lens from the war zones she is used to covering to a new kind of genocide – the killing of African Elephants and Rhinos – in this sweeping and sobering exposé. As the single-digit population of Northern White Rhinoceros ticks closer to zero, Brooks outlines the myriad factors contributing to the current epidemic of highly effective poaching and trafficking syndicates, drawing startling connections between the illegal wildlife trade, drug cartels, international terrorism and border security. But all is not yet lost – at the same time, Brooks documents the heroic efforts of conservationists, park rangers, and scientists to protect these animals in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Q&A will follow.
12 p.m.: “Evolution of Organic” + short film “The Soil Story” (Total Running Time 1 hr. 28 min.)
Academy Award® nominated director Mark Kitchell (“Berkeley in the Sixties,” “A Fierce Green Fire”) brings us the story of organic agriculture, told by those who built the movement. The film is narrated by recent Oscar® winner Frances McDormand. A motley crew of back-to-the-landers, spiritual seekers and farmers’ sons and daughters reject chemical farming and set out to explore organic alternatives. It’s a heartfelt journey of change from a small band of rebels to a cultural transformation in the way we grow and eat food. By now organic has gone mainstream – split into an industry oriented toward bringing organic to all people, and a movement that has realized a vision of sustainable agriculture. Prior to the film, the short film “The Soil Story” from LA’s environmental non-profit Kiss the Ground, explores the first viable, low-cost way to reverse climate change through soil. Introduced by actor and filmmaker Raphael Sbarge. Q&A will follow.
2:30 p.m.: “Jane” (Total Running Time 1 hr. 30 min.)
Oscar®– and Emmy®-nominated director Brett Morgen uses a trove of never-before-seen 16 mm footage unearthed after 50 years from the National Geographic archives to shed fresh light on trailblazing conservationist Jane Goodall. Morgen tells Goodall’s story starting in 1960, when the 26-year-old British woman arrives in a remote area of northwestern Tanzania to study chimpanzees.
Drawing on stunning wildlife footage and exclusive interviews with Goodall, as well as research footage from the Jane Goodall Institute and Goodall family videos, Morgen offers an unprecedented, intimate portrait of a woman who defied the odds to become one of the world’s most admired conservationists. Introduced by actor Patrick Fabian. Q&A will follow.
“Earth Focus: Sea Level Rising-Living with Water” explores how Louisiana is learning from Hurricane Katrina. Forecasts are dire for Louisiana to experience the second-highest sea level rise in the world. There is a big movement brewing in New Orleans to build adaptive “resilience zones.” In Southeast Louisiana, the native peoples of the Isle de Jean Charles have become the first U.S. citizens moving within their homeland displaced by climate change.
“Earth Focus: Climate Migration” follows populations that are dramatically shifting as climate change drives migration. Droughts and floods are driving many people away from their rural, farming communities into big cities. We see how this is manifesting in Mongolia and examine the factors leading to the new community of Haitian people living in limbo at the border between Mexico and the U.S. Q&A following with Director Nicky Milne and moderated by KCETLink TV Chief Creative Officer Juan Devis.
Each of the films included in the film festival will be augmented by original content published on KCET and Link TV’s web sites at kcet.org/earthfocus and linktv.org/earthfocus, on related topics ranging from environmental justice to climate activism to green gentrification. Contributors will include veteran environmental journalists and other experts. Additionally, visitors to the websites will be treated to multimedia features, environmental-related discussion boards and social media videos as well as trailers to the films being featured.
The EARTH FOCUS ENVIRONMENTAL FILM FESTIVAL is part of KCET’s month-long commitment to provide a robust library of content on multiple platforms intended to ignite compassion and action for helping to save and heal the planet. Additional content on KCET and Link TV that focuses on environmental challenges and solutions include:
EARTH FOCUS PRESENTS documentary film series airs Wed., at 9 p.m. on KCET and Link TV. The lineup includes: “Gringo Trails” (4/4), “Bluefin” (4/11), “Replan It” (4/18), and “Thank You For The Rain” (4/25).
ARTBOUND, KCET and Link TV’s arts and culture series airing Tues. at 9 p.m., presents two all-new environmental-themed specials that tie in the global conscious efforts surrounding art. “No Trespassing: A Survey of Environmental Art” airs 4/10 while “The Art of Basketweaving” airs 4/24.Two new environmental series, AMERICAN RIVERSand ANGRY PLANET will premiere on KCET on Tues., Apr. 3 at 10 p.m. and Wed. Apr. 4 at 8 p.m. respectively. While on Link TV, AMERICAN RIVERS will premiere on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT beginning Apr. 8 and ANGRY PLANET airs at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT beginning Apr.4.
Join the conversation on social media using #EarthFocus and #KCETgreen.
EARTH FOCUS is supported by the Orange County Community Foundation, the Farvue Foundation and other generous institutional funders. The EARTH FOCUS series was created by Raisa Scriabine.
ABOUT KCETLINK MEDIA GROUP
KCETLink Media Group is an award-winning national independent, nonprofit, digital and broadcast network that provides high-quality, culturally diverse programming designed to engage the public in innovative, entertaining and transformative ways. With a commitment to independent perspectives, smart global entertainment, local communities, and opportunities for engagement and social action, KCETLink depicts people and the world through a lens unavailable elsewhere in U.S. media. A viewer-supported 501(c)(3) organization, KCETLink content is distributed nationally via satellite on Link TV – DIRECTV channel 375 and DISH Network channel 9410 – and on KCET in Southern and Central California via broadcast and cable, as well as through various digital delivery systems. For additional information about KCET and Link TV productions, web-exclusive content, programming schedules and community events, please visit kcet.org or linktv.org. Select programming from KCET and Link TV is also available for streaming on Hulu, Apple TV and Roku platforms.