Friday, March 27, 2015

“Medicine of the Wolf” World Premiere: Interview with Film Director, Julia Huffman

By Rachel Tilseth, the founder of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin
on March 26, 2015

I first heard about Medicine of the Wolf film project in a post on Howling For Wolves a year ago and have been following the film’s progress ever since. You can too on the Medicine of the Wolf where you can find the latest news on the film. I became a Medicine of the Wolf enthusiast.

Here’s why.

I’ve been a follower of Jim Brandenburg’s work for many years. I consider him to be the Dr. Jane Goodall of wolves.  Brandenburg, like Goodall, has spent decades observing wild anmals (wolves) in the field. I’ve learned a great deal about wild sentient beings from both Goodall and Brandenburg, whom I highly admire. 

Admire, because they are both taking a stand against trophy hunting of wolves. 

Then there is the director, producer and screen writer of this remarkable film about wolves. I’ve come to know Julia Huffman through her work, finding her to be a compassioniate wolf advocate. Her creative attributes drive her to look for answers as to why some humans love wolves while others hate them.

Interview with Film Director Julia Huffman

Rachel: When did you start working on this film?

Julia:  I started thinking and visualizing sometime in early 2012, around the time that wolves went from being de listed to sport hunted and trapped in the Great Lakes region, in this very short period of time.

Rachel: Out of the many species imperiled why did you chose to focus on the wolf?
Julia: Well,  I grew up with dogs, (the wolf in the living room) so I had some of that energy in my home and still do for 40 plus years. But I have always admired the wolf, like many people, I’ve been drawn to the wolf. Then when I heard that they were de listed after only very minimal recovery, (less than 15 percent from their original roaming territory and numbers) I was shocked. Then there was this incredible political PUSH, like a frenzy to sport hunt them. So it really felt like this sweeping massive attack on the wolf and I felt deep in my bones that something must be done to protect them.
Rachel: What drew you to Jim Brandenburg?        

Julia: When I decided to focus the film in Minnesota and was doing research, everyone I spoke with said, ‘If your going to do a film about wolves, you must speak with Jim Brandenburg.” Then I read his book Brother Wolf and I was completely blown away. Jim Brandenburg has been living closely to wild wolves since 1968- the year I was born! Just looking at his photographs of wolves, you see something incredibly unique and intimate. Jim has been telling stories visually, and with words in a way that I found to be so beautiful, that I knew right away, if I could meet him, he very well might  be THE heart of the story, and that is what happened!                                                                                 
Rachel: While doing the research and making of the film what surprised you the most?                                                                                                                     
Julia: Hmm, well, I am surprised by how much the old myths and fairy tales about “the Big Bad Wolf” are still ingrained in peoples’ psyches even well educated, good people. Quite a few prominent politicians, for instance, in Minnesota who seem to care for the environment, have totally abandoned the wolf and supported a full on assault of them. It’s mind numbing. It doesn’t take much research or understanding to see how important wolves are to the natural balance of things. 

We actually need wolves now more than ever, but there still is this archaic belief system so ingrained that the wolf is bad. Most people don’t realize that wolves are more afraid of us than we are of them. There have only been two wolf attacks in our history, and the percentage of wolves predating on livestock is less than 1 percent. Politicians would have you believe otherwise. There is this disconnect.  I blame the entertainment industry for still depicting wolves as evil, and I think its incredibly irresponsible. I also think that the wolf has somehow become a token that politicians have given to lobbyists who feed their campaigns. The cattle industry, the Deer Hunters Association and The Safari Club are powerful groups with lots money to donate…the wolf doesn’t have these Lobby groups, grassroots organization are scrambling, its become the American Way now, money talks, democracy is dwindling. 

Rachel: Why should people watch this film?

Julia:  If there is any curiosity about wolves, or even negative feeling about wolves, I think that folks may learn something or connect to something they haven’t before, by watching the film. I try to bring a unique story to the table, they may observe things about wolves they didn’t know. 

featuring award winning photographer Jim Brandenburg
      “I am indeed proud to contribute my years of experiences, feelings and photography to Julia Huffman’s inspired documentary Medicine of the Wolf. I have not spoken out publicly about this misguided and unfortunate wolf hunt here in Minnesota and our neighboring states; mainly because of disbelief that our legislature could be so irresponsible with continuing a hunt under the umbrella of science. It’s not about science or wolf management, it appears to be more about giving our ‘sportsman’ a new species to hunt, a new trophy. “ ~Jim Brandenburg

Featuring John A. Vucetich
John A. Vucetich, Wolf Scientist, is the Director of the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Study, the longest wolf-moose study covering 53 years of history.
Featuring: Ch-Maiingan/Great Wolf (Larry Stillday)-Tribal Elder (honorable memory for his passing in 2014)

“The Medicine of the Wolf represents: Humility as well as Love, Loyalty, Perseverance, Courage, Stability, and Intuition. In nature, the wolf is the teacher of Humility. The wolf will bow its head not out of fear but out of Humbleness in our presence. When the wolf hunts for food it will take it back to the den for the others before it eats. Each wolf has a place in the whole and yet maintains its individual personality.” ~Chi-Ma’iinjan – the Objibwe worldview through the teachings of the Seven Grandfathers http://www.medicineofthewolf.

Also featuring: Dr. Jane Goodall,  elder, actor, Saginaw Grant, Dr. Maureen Hackett (HFW), Brooks Fahy (Executive Director Predator Defense), Marc Bekoff, Galeo Saintz (Wild Peace) Barry Babcock Woodsman, Environmentalist and our friends at the The Wolf Connection in Acton CA.
With Musical contributions from: James Taylor, AA Bondy, MOBY, Piano Magic, Louise Du Toit and More!
Director Julia Huffman and fim crew

Award winning film: 1st place Animal Content in Entertainment Award from the Humane Society for Medicine of the Wolf.  
“Julia Huffman and her film Medicine of the Wolf exposes the real threats facing one of America’s most iconic species – the gray wolf.  The ecological benefit of these keystone species is staggering: gray wolves modulate their prey herds, protect forest and river health, increase biological diversity and minimize the harms caused by deer on crops and commercial forests, and reduce deer-auto collisions. Now they are facing unprecedented attacks from trophy hunters in Northern Rockies and the possibility for delisting in Wyoming and the Great Lakes region. This film reveals the harsh reality that wolves are facing today and the political hullabaloo responsible for it.” ~Nicole Paquette, Vice President Wildlife, The Humane Society of the United States
About filmmaker: Julia Huffman is an independent filmmaker and acting coach living in Los Angeles, CA. She is a writer, producer, director, and editor and recently won the 1st place Animal Content in Entertainment Award from the Humane Society for Medicine of the Wolf.  Some of her past producing credits includes HGTV, Steven Bochco Productions, and others.  She also shot, edited and produced a short film – The Rainbow Murders in 2008.  Julia has a strong passion for animal advocacy, social justice and the environment. She grew up with parents from Los Angeles who dropped out of the mainstream life (the Back to the Land Movement) and moved to rural West Virginia where she still has a strong connection to the land, she likes to call herself a child of the Revolutionaries.
It is such an honor to have been invited to the World Premiere of this incredibly important film for wolves.  Rachel And I will be there on April 11, live tweeting and posting pictures updates on Facebook and Instagram. Stay tuned in for the entire event by following @wolvesofdouglascountywisconsin      @BrittRic
~ Britt Ricci