Thursday, February 28, 2008

Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk Cascades Into Fernbank’s IMAX® Theatre

The producers of the blockbuster hit Everest will make a big splash with the new film Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk. The giant-screen film combines exhilarating river-rafting action, family fun and bonding, and the grandeur of the Grand Canyon to tell an engaging story of how ordinary people can make a difference for our planet. Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk, presented by Teva and proudly supported by Kohler Co., will open in the IMAX® Theatre at Fernbank Museum of Natural History on March 22, 2008 in celebration of World Water Day.

Taking audiences on this illuminating rafting trip along America’s most iconic river are two environmental heroes: world-renowned river advocate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and celebrated author, anthropologist and explorer Wade Davis, accompanied by their daughters for whom this journey will become a moving rite of passage. They are guided by Shana Watahomigie, the first Native American to become a National Park Ranger and river guide. With a stirring score featuring songs and music from Dave Matthews Band, this adventure explores the spiritual, artistic and life-sustaining powers of water—and makes crystal clear that each of us must do our part to better manage this crucial resource for the future.

“At current consumption levels, the Earth is running out of clean, fresh water so fast that the U.N. estimates 40% of the world could face life-threatening shortages by the year 2050,” said Susan Dunn, environmental educator at Fernbank Museum of Natural History. “And in consideration of Georgia’s current drought crisis, Fernbank is showing this film at a crucial time in hopes of motivating and inspiring visitors to conserve water now and long into the future.”

Fernbank’s environmental education team leads a series of programs to help participants find easy ways to conserve water, including a rain barrel workshop that demonstrates how to capture rainwater for later use in home gardening projects. Grand Canyon Adventure reveals why such small water conservation practices are so important to our Earth.

“Safe fresh water is a human right like clean air, yet more than one-fifth of the world’s people suffer without adequate clean water,” said Kennedy, who recalls going down the Colorado just a few decades ago with his own father and seeing wide, sandy banks and animals that have since vanished. “My hope is that Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk will remind the world that restoring our waterways and conserving fresh water are important, not just in developing nations but here at home.”

The vital urgency for people around the world to address the water crisis comes to the fore as the explorers make their way down the Colorado, a prime example of a mighty and hallowed river that has been altered by excess and inefficient use. The Colorado once flowed freely across 1,400 miles, from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. Today, however, the lower half of the Colorado no longer consistently reaches the sea, and the river is literally shrinking due to a severe drought cycle now facing the American Southwest. Researchers predict this so-called “mega-drought” could last into the next century, threatening to wreck havoc among the seven states that depend heavily on the river’s water.

With the earth’s population soaring, far too many people have found themselves without daily access to water. From the American West to Africa, aquifers are tapped out, waterways have been dammed into extinction and wetlands have turned to deserts. The result is that more than a staggering 1.5 billion people have been left thirsty, while 5 million people a year tragically die due to water-borne illnesses.

“In our film, the Colorado River becomes a metaphor for global water issues, revealing how interconnected our rivers, water supply and human actions really are,” says producer Greg MacGillivray. “A river trip is one of those amazing life events where you’re ripped out of your daily routine and inspired to see the world in new ways.”

Shot in four weeks almost entirely on the Colorado River, the challenging production involved the cooperation of three Indian nations, the National Park Service, Teva’s team of champion kayakers and more than a dozen experienced river guides. As the explorers float through the breath-taking canyons and crash through the raging rapids, they also trace the history of the river. They compare what they see on their trip with photos taken by Jack Hillers on explorer John Wesley Powell’s courageous second expedition down the river in 1872—and find the landscape dramatically changed. For the two fathers whose life work is so closely connected to water, the expedition is also an opportunity to pass the conservation torch to their daughters, whose generation must face the task of making sure we will all have a share in the earth’s fresh water resources.

Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk shows daily in the IMAX® Theatre at Fernbank Museum of Natural History from March 22 through July 18, 2008. IMAX® tickets are $13 for adults, $12 for students and seniors, and $11 for children ages 12 and under. Value Pass tickets, which combine Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk with full Museum access, are $23 for adults, $21 for students and seniors, and $19 for children.

Fernbank Museum of Natural History is located at 767 Clifton Road in Atlanta. More information is available to visitors at fernbankmuseum.org. Tickets can be purchased in advance at 404.929.6400.
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