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LEAD Agency screening series looks to empower and inspire communities through film

MIAMI, Okla. — Local Environmental Action Demanded (LEAD) Agency, Inc., programmed
through the Working Films Rural Cinema project, is hosting a free screening series of films for
the community that illuminate groundbreaking stories on environmental pollution and the right to
clean water.

LEAD Agency curated the film screening series with Working Films, a national nonprofit
organization that leverages the power of documentary films to advance social justice and
environmental protection. Working Films selected LEAD Agency this year as one of its
participants in Rural Cinema 2024, which allows leaders in rural communities to utilize films as a
resource in their work.

The Rural Cinema program provides film screening equipment and solar equipment, technical
assistance, virtual training sessions, as well as ongoing support and training from Working Films

“The Rural Cinema program has been an incredibly unique and inspiring experience,” said
LEAD Agency Education & Engagement Coordinator, M. Bailey Stephenson. “As part of the
cohort, LEAD has received specialized training and equipment to host film screening events.

Film is a powerful tool to help us realize our goals by connecting with community members
through engaging and compelling storytelling!”

Films will be screened from July to October at various locations. LEAD Agency’s next upcoming
film screening is slated for 8:30 pm on Friday, July 12 at the Riverview Park Pavilion in Miami.

Four films will be featured including “Save Our Creek” by Friends of Tar Creek, “A Healing
Journey” by Julian Matthews and Luci Simpson, “ᏗᏂᏠᎯ ᎤᏪᏯ” (Meet Me at the Creek) by
award-winning filmmaker Loren Waters and “The River is Me” by award-winning filmmaker and
journalist David Freid.

“Films, whether fiction or nonfiction, are stories that hold the power to educate and motivate
people,” said Stephenson. “Through our series, we hope to share films that highlight specific
environmental struggles in Ottawa County, and in doing so, we believe movies can meaningfully
bring people together to make a difference! Additionally, communities here have experienced a
great deal of loss and hardship, and we hope that our film series can offer spaces of joy and
connection while also encouraging action for a more hopeful future.”

LEAD Agency has been sounding the alarm on environmental issues affecting public health
since 1997 to bring more awareness to residents in Northeast Oklahoma and offer an outlet for
change at the local, state and federal level.

Campers from LEAD Agency’s Summer Camp in May created a moving documentary film with
original footage, interviews and music called “Save Our Creek,” which highlights the historic
mining pollution at Tar Creek and the new generations’ goals for a healthier future. The young
filmmakers created and directed the documentary on their own from start to finish.

“Storytelling through filmmaking is a powerful way to convey messages about the human
experience to wide audiences,” said Award-winning filmmaker Loren Waters. “Filmmaking
allows us to glimpse into other worlds and learn about others’ experiences or solutions to
problems through stories. We all need to tell our stories.”

“A Healing Journey” follows how the Nez Perce Tribe (Nimiipuu) in Idaho, who historically
floated on the Snake River for several generations, revived a native tradition and built their first
canoe in more than 100 years. Earthjustice partnered with Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment
to document the process of building the canoe, its cultural significance to the tribe and what this
means for their future. Four dams were built along the Snake River in the mid-1900s, blocking
the tribe’s access to their traditional waterways, ancestral sites and their way of life. The canoe
marks a rebirth of a longstanding tradition for the Nez Perce Tribe (Nimiipuu) and plays an
important role in their process towards healing.

“ᏗᏂᏠᎯ ᎤᏪᏯ” (Meet Me at the Creek) was created by Cherokee and Kiowa filmmaker Loren
Waters. The film documents how water pollution has affected Indigenous communities and the
efforts of Tar Creekkeeper and LEAD Agency Executive Director Rebecca Jim, who has spent
much of her life raising awareness about the mining contamination in Tar Creek.
“We hope that the Ottawa County Film Series will inspire the local community to continue to
advocate for one of the most precious relationships in our lives and that is our relationship with
the earth,” said Waters. “This program will help the LEAD Agency to make an impact through an
exciting string of film screening events, bringing us closer to our goal of a clean Tar Creek. We
decided to utilize film as a resource because there is power in authentic and accurate
storytelling rooted in community collaboration. The films we are showcasing are told by the
community and for the community.”

The final film, “The River is Me,” discusses the disputed ownership of the Whanganui River in
New Zealand, which was granted personhood status in 2017 in a groundbreaking law. The law’s
passage was part of a settlement with the Whanganui Iwi, who view the Whanganui River as a
living being.

Each film screening event will feature the opportunity to explore issues relevant to the film and
ways to get involved and take action with the LEAD Agency. The outdoor film series is free and
open to all ages. It will be screened using solar-powered film screening equipment provided by
Working Films and EPIC Outdoor Cinema. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own lawn
chairs. Popcorn will be provided.

LEAD Agency Film Series upcoming screenings:

Friday, July 12, 2024 — 8:30 pm at the Riverview Park Pavilion in Miami. “Save Our
Creek” by Friends of Tar Creek, “A Healing Journey” by Julian Matthews and Luci
Simpson, “ᏗᏂᏠᎯ ᎤᏪᏯ” (Meet Me at the Creek) by Loren Waters and “The River is Me”
by David Freid.
Friday, August 9, 2024 — 8:30 pm at the Peoria Housing Authority, 3606 Sencay Ave.
in Miami, Okla. – “ᏗᏂᏠᎯ ᎤᏪᏯ” (Meet Me at the Creek) by Loren Waters,
“Awaskinawason” by Antony Dubé (Atikamekw), and “Tiny” by Ritchie Hemphill.
Tuesday, October 8, 2024 — 3 pm at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Student
Ballroom – “ᏗᏂᏠᎯ ᎤᏪᏯ” (Meet Me at the Creek) by Loren Waters, “Save Our Creek” by
Friends of Tar Creek and “Take Care, Tar Creek,” by Aaron Gibson.
For more information or to volunteer with LEAD Agency, call the office at 918-542-9399 or visit

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