UF grad’s springs film garners an Emmy

Documentary filmmaker Oscar Corral’s film “The Fellowship of the Springs” has earned an Emmy award and will soon be on screens again in North Florida.

Corral dedicated two years to filming his latest documentary which highlights how springs throughout Florida are exhibiting a decline in flow levels and an increase in nitrate pollution.

“The Fellowship of the Springs” debuted in May in North Central Florida and has since aired on screens throughout the state, internationally and on PBS.

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The film also received attention internationally, winning an award in the Climate Action category in the 2021 Big Syn International Film Festival touted as the the world’s biggest not-for-profit, online film festival.

It was nominated for two Emmy awards in the Environment/Science and Politics/Government categories and took the top prize in the Politics/Government category.

Corral said that springs are, “More than a swimming hole. They have a spiritual aura, they are the source of life, water, and community.”

The two-hour, two-part series is a result of more than 100 hours of footage and 130 interviews.

Water advocate and founding member of Our Santa Fe River, Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, was featured in the film and aired it at her canoe outpost Rum 138.

Malwitz-Jipson has spent almost two decades fighting for the rights of citizens to have clean water and access to a vibrant ecosystem.

“I’m hopeful that Oscar and his film crew will do more than any of us water advocates have done in the past 20 years,” she said. “I believe when people see this film, especially government and elected officials, they will have an insight and understanding of what they have seen us go through.”

She said that “The Fellowship of the Springs” sheds a new light on the type of challenges that citizens face when they know the laws are in nature’s favor but “time and time again the citizens and nature lose when the state appears to give in to big business at the detriment of the environment.”

Corral announced the nominations and award on Facebook.

“So proud of my team for earning not one, but two, Emmy nominations for our springs documentary The Fellowship of the Springs in both the Environment/Science and Politics/Government categories,” he wrote.

And after winning in the Politic/Government category he posted, “We did it! This weekend, we won an Emmy Award for The Fellowship of the Springs “Blue Rebellion”, our documentary about the ongoing destruction of Florida’s springs.

“I’m proud of my core team, Forrest Canaday, Abdul-Haleem Muhsin, Melina Pardo, Landon Jones, Aura Santana, Tony Laurencio, Afrobeta, WPBT2 South Florida PBS, Joyce Membrives Belloise, and the many others who were featured in the film and made this possible like Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, Karen Chadwick, Tessa Skiles, Jeb Bush, Michelle Colson,” he wrote.

Corral went on to give “special thanks to organizations like Florida Springs Institute who are fighting this fight every day.”

“Blue Rebellion was the second episode of our documentary,” he said. “Which focused on the way Florida’s agencies that are supposed to protect the springs, like the water management districts and the Department of Environmental Protection, are instead failing badly and in some cases enabling their destruction. The demise of the springs is not a foregone conclusion. They can and will be saved, one hard-fought step at a time.”

Two special free theatrical screenings are coming up in North Florida, according to Corral.

The first is in Tallahassee at the Challenger Learning Center IMAX on Jan. 25 and then in Gainesville at the Reitz Union auditorium at the University of Florida on Feb. 8.

Ticket details to be announced.

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