The Ground Between Us

Movie Information

This documentary on public lands issues pretends to be objective but is a pure advocacy film.
Genre: Documentary
Director: Galen Knowles, Philip Hessler and Zeppelin Zeerip
Rated: NR

The Ground Between Us is the kind of documentary that pops up on PBS on any given night, intermittently holding your attention with the occasional striking image or sound bite, but otherwise leaving plenty of time for you to flip through a magazine or doze off and still grasp its core message.

Blessed with crisp drone and ground-level nature photography that’s frequently cheapened by ill-fitting, amateurish narration, directors Zeppelin Zeerip and Galen Knowles explore public lands issues in Alaska, Oregon and Utah with varying degrees of success.

By interviewing people with opposing views about protecting ancestral Alaskan lands from oil drilling, Oregonian forests from logging and Utah’s Bears Ears area from receiving monument status, the filmmakers feign objectivity and oddly come off as somewhat pro-logging as a result of their excessive focus on a family that whines about not being able to cut down as many trees as it would like.

But make no mistake: The Ground Between Us is a pure conservationist advocacy doc — and ultimately a call to vote. The repeated cuts to pristine, undeveloped landscapes confirm the filmmakers’ commitment to their cause, and their attempts at even-handedness ultimately backfire as their subjects who oppose government preservation “overreach” look like fuddy-duddies for their dependence on unsustainable industries.

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About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA).

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