Local Sightings 2020 – Spawning Grounds [Online]

View this program on-demand
Sep. 18–27, 2020

Live Q&A w/ Filmmakers*
Sep. 24 at 7:00pm PDT


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Nils R. Cowan


** Sustainable Seattle (S2) will facilitate a free, live panel discussion on Sep. 24 at 7pm PDT. Join Spawning Grounds director Nils Cowan and members of the Lake Sammamish Kokanee Work Group as they discuss the film and how to save this native fish. **


** Co-presented with S2 **

Spawning Grounds is an educational documentary film that chronicles a critical season in the life of the Lake Sammamish kokanee, a unique but little-known species of landlocked salmon with immense cultural and ecological importance. The film follows three unique people as they work together to save this fascinating species amid unprecedented development pressure. As they strive towards their goal, viewers gain a unique understanding of this incredible species and its cultural significance, a deeper appreciation of the ongoing impacts of human behavior on the environment, and a greater awareness of what’s possible when people of different backgrounds and motivations unite around a common goal.

Original artwork by Cindy Chischilly (Diné), White Canyon Design.

About the filmmaker:

Nils​ ​has​ ​worked​ ​as​ ​a​ ​writer,​ ​producer​ ​and​ ​director​ ​for​ ​more​ ​than​ ​fifteen​ ​years.​ ​A​ ​native​ ​of Calgary,​ ​Canada,​ ​he​ ​directed​ ​his​ ​first​ ​documentary​ ​short,​ ​Gated​ ​Communities,​ ​about​ ​troubling mental​ ​health​ ​policies​ ​in 2000.​ ​He then​ ​moved​ ​to​ ​the​ ​thriving​ ​network documentary​ ​market​ ​of​ ​Washington,​ ​DC,​ ​where​ ​he​ ​wrote​ ​and produced​ ​series​ ​and​ ​specials​ ​for​ ​National​ ​Geographic,​ ​​PBS​ ​and​ ​BET.​ ​Ten years ago, ​he​ ​moved​ ​back​ ​west​ ​to​ ​the growing​ ​production​ ​scene​ ​in​ ​Seattle,​ ​focusing​ ​on​ ​natural​ ​history,​ ​science​ ​and​ ​current​ ​affairs.​ ​He has​ ​since​ ​written​ ​and​ ​produced​ ​several​ ​award-winning​ ​documentary films​ ​and​​ ​shorts​ ​about subjects​ ​ranging​ ​from​ ​drug​ ​policy​ ​reform​ ​to​ ​radio​ ​astronomy,​ ​and​ ​from​ ​reproductive​ ​justice​ ​to urban​ ​art.

Director's statement:

What drew me to this story was the opportunity to document characters from very different backgrounds actively working through conservation challenges over a long period of time and forming an emotional bond with the fish species they are trying to save.

About Sustainable Seattle

About Sustainable Seattle

S2 works to build a thriving future through initiatives that deliver environmental, economic and community benefits, promote equity, and build resilience.

Back to Festival Catalog

Local Sightings Film Festival 2020 [Online]

Presented by Seattle’s Northwest Film Forum, the 23rd Annual Local Sightings Film Festival [Online] virtually showcases creative communities from throughout the Pacific Northwest. The 2020 program, which runs from September 18-27, features a competitive selection of curated shorts and feature film programs, inviting regional artists to experiment, break, and remake popular conceptions around filmmaking and film exhibition.

Local Sightings 2020 champions emerging and established talent, supports the regional film industry, and promotes diverse media as a critical tool for public engagement. This year’s festival also celebrates NWFF’s 25th Anniversary as an organization.


Vote for your favorite films by 12pm PDT on Closing Day, Sep. 27; BEST FEATURE and BEST SHORT winners receive a future screening opportunity at NWFF!

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