2019 Special Guests

We are fortunate to have the presence of many formidable local and regional artists, activists and storytellers who will be sharing their experience and insight at events throughout the festival.

Klee Benelly
Diné (Navajo) Anarchist, Traditional Dancer, Musician, Artist & Filmmaker

Klee is originally from Black Mesa and has worked nearly all of his life at the front lines in struggles to protect Indigenous sacred lands. Klee is the national coordinator for Clean Up The Mines!, a campaign to clean up abandoned uranium mines, and a coordinator with Haul No!, an effort to stop transport of uranium through Northern Arizona.

Davona Blackhorse
Community Health Advocate and Counselor

Davona Blackhorse is a Mental Health Counselor and community-based advocate working to raise awareness of uranium mining in the Southwest.  Davona graduated with a Masters in the Clinical and Mental Health Counseling program at Northern Arizona University. Her research concentrated on cultivating literature in the psychological impact of Uranium exposure on the Navajo Reservation and historical trauma among Native Americans. Davona plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Counseling in an effort to pursue her passion in developing cultural appropriate therapy interventions that are inclusive of Native American healing practices.

Michael Brown
Documentary Filmmaker

In his career, Michael Brown has excelled as both an adventure athlete and as a filmmaker. He has been to the summit of Mount Everest five times, each time with cameras rolling. His work as a director and cinematographer spans all seven continents and more than fifty expeditions. Michael’s work has won many festival & industry awards including three national Emmy’s and the Giant Screen Cinema (IMAX) Cinematography Award. He is also a recipient of the International Alliance For Mountain Film’s “Grand Prize,” and the Explorers Festival’s “Camera Extreme” Michael’s lens has captured ice caves for NOVA, tornadoes for Discovery, science at the South Pole for National Geographic, avalanches for the BBC and mountain climbing for four giant screen IMAX movies. Michael frequently ventures to the world’s harshest, most dangerous environments and always comes back with incredible footage and compelling stories. Outside Magazine describes the cerebral filmmaker as a “swashbuckling librarian,” and Men’s Journal calls him “a master of gut-dropping action.” Michael lives in Boulder, Colorado with his wife Julia, and their three children.

Craig Childs
Author and Spoken Word Artist

When he’s not penning Orion Award-winning books, author and spoken word artist Craig Childs has dazzled festival fans with his spoken word performances from Telluride, to Wild and Scenic, to Burning Man.

Justin Clifton

Justin Clifton is a native of the American Southwest who has dedicated the past decade of his career to advocacy film, first as director of Mountainfilm on Tour and now as a filmmaker whose work is centered around environmental and conservation issues. He produced and directed three films focused around the protection of landscapes in southeastern Utah as part of the “Our Canyon Lands” campaign for land conservation.

Judith Costello
Professor, NAU

Judith Costello teaches for the department of Comparative Cultural Studies in Humanities, Latin American Studies and Cinema Studies.

Brad Dimock
Boatman, Boatbuilder, Historian, and Storyteller

Brad Dimock has been a Grand Canyon boatman, boatbuilder, historian, and storyteller for forty-five years. He tells a story like only someone who has stood around a thousand campfires can.

Jihan Gearon
Painter and Writer

Jihan started painting in the summer of 2018, a year after being diagnosed with endometrial cancer and cured with a total hysterectomy. For Jihan, painting is healing and her method of creation. This set of paintings give appreciation and respect to the beings that protected, motivated and transformed her during this time. Jihan’s paintings are simultaneously vivacious and heavy, recognizable and hidden. While the bright colors and detailed lines hint at a signature style, this is only the beginning of what we might see from this fresh, new artist.

Briana Hammerstrom
Flagstaff Poetry Slam’s Co-Host

Briana Hammerstrom is a poet from the Central Valley of California who calls Flagstaff home. She runs the Flagstaff Poetry Slam And took 3rd place in the 2018 All Arizona State Slam. She, too, is waiting for her first chapbook to be released later this year.

Helen Jaccard
Project Manager of the Veterans For Peace Golden Rule Project

She is also crew of the Golden Rule anti-nuclear peace boat and a member of Veterans For Peace and Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom and a researcher for Clean Up The Mines! campaign for cleanup of abandoned uranium mines.

Amy Martin
Documentary Photographer

As a documentary photographer, Amy uses her camera’s lens to increase awareness, understanding, and compassion across physical and social barriers. Amy brings depth to her work from her diverse background as a former Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic, a Park Ranger at Grand Canyon, and a conservation biologist in the American Southwest. Amy pairs with conservation and humanitarian organizations, documenting their stories and raising awareness of endangered landscapes and social injustices to spark action.

Peter McBride
Self-taught photographer, filmmaker, writer, and public speaker

Photographer, writer, and visual storyteller with an emphasis on adventure, travel, commercial, and environmental work. Over the last year, McBride hiked the entire length of Grand Canyon National Park—over 700 miles without a trail. Moving on foot between the river and rim “was a remarkable blister builder,” but it had a purpose to highlight the challenges our national parks are facing as increased development pressures are poised to change the Canyon’s iconic landscape. After completing the journey, he and his hiking companion, author Kevin Fedarko, were listed by National Geographic as “Adventurers of the Year.”

Peter McLaughlin
Acoustic Guitarist, Songwriter, Vocalist, and Performer

Peter McLaughlin is an acclaimed acoustic guitarist, songwriter, vocalist, performer, recording artist and music instructor located in Tucson, AZ.  He plays many genres and styles and specializes in acoustic flat-picking and fingerpicking techniques.

Adrianna Nimer
Flag Mountain Film Fest Wordsmiths

Adrianna Nimer is an NAU graduate who majored in Biological Science with minors in Japanese, Chemistry, and Asian Studies. She studied abroad on an island called Saipan where she published a scientific research article to aid in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Now she’s living in Flagstaff, learning languages, writing poetry, and exploring herself and the world around her while getting ready for her next adventure.

Susan Deaver Olberding
Flagstaff Historian, Author and Archivist

Susan Deaver Olberding is an independent Flagstaff historian and has published five books on northern Arizona history, including Fort Valley Then and Now, Sunset on Glen Canyon, The San Francisco Peaks, Stewards of the Forest and Range, and “…going sketching now…” (the letters of Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton). She owns Fort Valley Publishing. Susan has been the historian/archivist for the USFS Fort Valley Experimental Forest and is a Museum of Northern Arizona Research Associate with a focus on institutional history.

Cynthia Oldham
Flag Mountain Film Fest Wordsmiths

Cynthia Oldham is a NAU student, aspiring poet, and teacher in training. You can often find her volunteering at the Coconino Arts Center, working at the Northern Arizona College Resource Center, or jumping in two-feet-first into any kind of artistic endeavor she can find. A self-proclaimed busy bee, her favorite moments are when she can stop, cuddle her cat, and try to clarify the confusing bits of life with whatever words she can find.  

John “Verm” Sherman

When not fulfilling his duties as a bouldering icon or senior adult film star, John “Verm” Sherman moonlights as a wildlife photographer, one of only 6000 that call Flagstaff home. His favorite photo subject is the California Condor, a species as voraciously alluring as it is critically endangered.

Jerrel Singer
Artist and Activist

Jerrel Singer is a Native artist who paints murals in northern Arizona and along Highway 89 outside of Gray Mountain. The murals reflect some of the issues faced by the Navajo people and others including uranium mining.

Morgan Sjogren
Freelance Writer and passionate Activist for public lands

Morgan Sjogren runs wild with words anywhere she can get to on two feet with a pen and camera in hand. She is a freelance writer based in Northern Arizona but spends most of the year on the road exploring landscapes in the southwest and around the world. A passionate activist for public lands Morgan wrote, The Best Bears Ears National Monument Hikes, in 2017 and has two new books due out this spring: Outlandish: Fuel Your Epic and The Best Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument Hikes. You can follow along with her adventures and ramblings on Instagram @running_bum and TheRunningBum.com.

Lawrence E. Stevens
Director, Springs Stewardship Institute

After working as an NPS biological technician and a river guide, he undertook graduate studies in biology at the University of Arizona, Tucson and at Northern Arizona University, where he received his doctoral degree in Zoology in 1989. He served as the ecologist for Grand Canyon National Park from 1989-1994, the editor of Red Lake Books, and he has served on many ecological councils and committees in Arizona, He teaches occasionally at both Prescott College and Northern Arizona University, and works as a whitewater rafting guide in Grand Canyon. He is presently the Curator of Ecology and the Director of the Springs Stewardship Institute at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff. In that position, he brings to bear more than 40 years of scientific research on springs and aquatic ecosystem ecology, land and water resources management, and advisement to Tribes and all levels of government about those topics. He also is the Senior Ecologist for Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, in which position he serves as a conservation representative for the adaptive management of Glen Canyon Dam and the Colorado River through Grand Canyon.

Harlan Taney
Owner and Operator of 4 Corner Film Logistics

Harlan Taney is the owner and operator of 4 Corner Film Logistics, managing productions for National Geographic, Discovery, NBC and the BBC to name a few.

Chip Thomas
aka “jetsonorama” Photographer, Public Artist, Activist and Physician

Chip Thomas, aka “jetsonorama” is a native of North Carolina. His life direction changed when he attended a small, alternative Quaker school in the mountains of North Carolina. He is a photographer, public artist, activist, and physician who has been working between Monument Valley and The Grand Canyon in the Navajo nation since 1987. Thomas is a member of the Justseeds Artists Co-operative, an international cooperative of 30 socially engaged artists. You can find his large scale photographs pasted in the northern Arizona desert, on the graphics of the Peoples Climate March, the National Geographic Blog, 350.org, the Huffington Post and elsewhere.  

Gwendolyn Waring
Ecologist, Writer, and Artist

Waring is an ecologist, writer and artist based in Flagstaff, AZ.  She has written two books on ecology in the West. The Natural History of the Intermountain West was published by University of Utah Press in 2011; it describes both the Great Basin and the Colorado Plateau.  Her recent book, The Natural History of the San Francisco Peaks, describes the building of this iconic sky island, and the plants and animals that have come to call it home.