TELLURIDE – To raise funds needed to finish Beth and George Gage’s next documentary Bidder 70, which follows Tim DeChristopher’s act of civil disobedience at a federal land auction and his subsequent federal trail, Eliza Slayman and Tina Whatcott are hosting a monkey wrench party from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, April 1, at the Steaming Bean in Telluride.
The event, which includes drink specials, screenings of the Bidder 70 trailer and prize drawings, takes placeduring the KOTO Street Dance, making it easy for anyone celebrating the end of the ski season to pop in, learn more about DeChristopher and support the film, that, when finished, will bullhorn his act of civil disobedience in his fight against climate change.
DeChristopher was found guilty in a Salt Lake City federal courthouse last February on two felony counts of violating the terms of a 2008 Bureau of Land Management auction for bidding $1.8 million (that he did not have) for land parcels near Arches and Canyonlands national parks in southeastern Utah. There are many who agree with DeChristopher that the auction was a last-minute and hurried effort by the Bush Administration to offer up federal lands before the Obama Administration took office.
Once in office, President Obama’s Interior Secretary Ken Salazar immediately shelved the parcels of land that were to be auctioned. Nevertheless, while the Obama Administration pulled the parcels, it went forward with prosecuting DeChristopher for violating the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act. He now faces up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $750,000. His sentencing is scheduled for June 23.
According to Slayman, who works for the Gages, $45,000 is still needed to complete Bidder 70. The fundraising monkey wrench party comes on the second anniversary of DeChristopher’s indictment, and features the film’s trailer, which premiered at the Lincoln Center in New York City as part of Mountainfilm on Tour last October.
“As part of this film screening and fundraising event, we’re giving out prizes that will encourage folks to get outside and love that land that Tim protected at the auction,” Slayman says. Prizes include Utah rafting trips, outdoor gear, bike tours and adventures in around the Moab area. “I really want to reach out to my demographic, to Tim’s demographic, that’s here in Telluride. I love those lands in my core, and I hope this event, and by extension, Bidder 70, will help our community to make that deeper connection.”
That "core" connection will continue to grow; it was announced last week that the 2011 Mountainfilm Festival will feature DeChristopher, who will speak not only about the urgency of addressing global climate change, but also about why nonviolent civil disobedience is essential. The Gages are also working toward a screening of their work-in-progress.
“Over the course of the last few months, I’ve become utterly and completely dedicated to this project,” says Slayman, who was in Salt Lake City for the trial. “It is my sincere hope that Bidder 70 will trumpet Tim’s action to an audience that must hear it. He’s put a light on our government’s duplicitous handling of our public lands – the very public lands that made me revisit what it means to be American and to celebrate being an American.”
Slayman says the Bidder 70 trailer will be replayed several times throughout Friday’s fundraising event. Both George and Beth Gage are expected to attend the event, and there will be several people on hand to explain the issues surrounding DeChristopher and his actions.
Glasses of sangria wine will be on sale for $5, with carafes on sale for $10; $5 John Daly's and $2 Warsteiners will be on sale, as well.