Friend and neighbor Dave Taylor graciously offered to screen two of his award winning films in support of The Sopris Sun’s spring fundraiser, which kicks off this week. You are invited to enjoy the show at the Crystal Theatre on Thursday, April 28, at 7 p.m.
Taylor was born in Georgia and from there ended up in Little Rock Arkansas, only to move to the Big Apple (New York City) where he began working in audio production. “Film came late in my career,” he told The Sun. “I was an audio guy — radio theater. My first career was in commercial radio which transitioned into voiceover work in New York and finally music production at Cool Brick Studios, which I still do as my ‘day job.’”
Cool Brick Studios is a music production studio which Taylor opened in a historic home on Third Street in Carbondale. Taylor recognized there is a plethora of talented musicians in the Valley and has provided an authentic recording experience for those local artists.
Perhaps that sense of local stewardship is why Taylor appreciates The Sun so much. “I am a strong believer in local, local, local when it comes to modern media,” he said. “There are a lot of big powerful national news outlets but they can’t tell me what’s going on across the street or at city hall.”
The two films showing on April 28 are Taylor’s latest visual works.
Mark of the Jaguar
“Mark of the Jaguar” is a documentary which gives insight into the conflict, and possibility for coexistence, among jaguars and the cattle ranching culture in the Brazilian Pantanal region.
“Filming was done through long days on the rivers of the Pantanal,” he described, “tracking the jaguars and [being] with local families who live in the region to understand their lives and relationship to a major apex predator.”
Back in the ‘70s, jaguars were hunted and nearly eliminated by the ranchers in the region. Through the work of conservation groups — including Panthera, which Taylor’s team worked with closely — a harmonious approach has been embraced.
Taylor hopes people will walk away from the film with a better understanding that “the problems of human-animal conflict can be resolved with a win-win conservation approach that benefits both the animals as well as the people.”
“unTHINKable” is a short film that is part of an even larger story Taylor has been working on. It takes the audience back to the Western Territory during the Civil War era. The three characters represent the colliding cultures. Ohitakawin Kopa Anuksan (which translates to Brave Woman Beautiful Bald Eagle) plays the part of a Native American woman. Her companion, Ada (played by Sophie Sakson), is a white woman returning from burying her baby to find a Black Union soldier (played by Frank Harley Jr.) near death, hanged by his neck from a tree.
Ada cuts the man down from the tree and the story unfolds as they attempt the uncertain and difficult process of bringing him back from the brink of death. “The theme of the film,” Taylor began, “is that compassion knows no boundaries.”
The production of “unTHINKable” has a strong connection with Carbondale. Sakson grew up in the Valley and Anuksan’s brother, Anuk Bald Eagle, has also resided here. A good part of the production team is largely from the area as well.
“I’m trying to focus, as an independent filmmaker, on telling stories that I feel are compelling and important; then trying to get as many people exposed to them as I can,” explained Taylor. His two original films, “Whitewashed: The Ethnic Cleansing of America” and “In the Footsteps of Giants,” are available to stream for free on his website: www.coolbrickstudios.com
That’s all for now, folks. We hope to see you at the Crystal Theatre on April 28! Tickets are $15 for adults, $8 for kids and can be purchased at the door. The theater currently requires proof of vaccination from all patrons.
Juru and Patricia, the jaguars, who Taylor refers to as the “stars” of the film. Courtesy photo