Directed by Nancy Kelly & Kenji Yamamoto

Film Synopsis

Narrated by Frances McDormand, Rebels with a Cause spotlights a battle over land that changed the American landscape forever. It is the story of a regional California effort that grew into an astonishing system of fourteen National Seashores and a fascinating example of a hard fought campaign to preserve something important to all of us—our public land.

Active Cinema Participation

At MVFF 2012 the film:

  • had its world premiere
  • sold out both of its screenings
  • was presented in association with Cal Humanities
  • took part in the Festival’s Education program, with a screening for school groups
  • won the Audience Favorite Award for Best Documentary–Active Cinema
  • The filmmakers also participated in the Active Cinema Hike where one notable moment informed all of their subsequent community screenings: One of the subjects of the film introduced himself to someone as, “My name is Bob Praetzel and I’m a rebel.” From then on, at the hundred or so community screenings the filmmakers attended, they always arranged for local “rebels” to join them for the Q&As.

Active Cinema Impact

After being part of Active Cinema:

  • The film had an 11-week run at the Smith Rafael Film Center in the summer of 2013, making it one of the top-grossing films in the history of the theater. This was a direct result of MVFF 2012’s audience outreach, which the filmmakers continued after their initial Festival screenings.
  • The film screened for more school groups in December 2013 in partnership with CFI, the Marin County School District, and the Marin Community Foundation.
  • Co-director Kenji Yamamoto took part in the Active Cinema panel at MVFF 2014, where he spoke about the film’s audience engagement campaign.
  • Filmmaker Nancy Kelly participated in CFI Education’s Environmental Youth Forum in February 2013.
  • Kelly+Yamamoto Productions received a Special Award for Environmental Leadership for Rebels with a Cause from the Marin Conservation League.
  • The film screened at the Cleveland International Film Festival, Miami International Documentary Film Festival, Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival, Sonoma International Film Festival, Mendocino Film Festival, United Nations Association Film Festival, San Francisco Green Film Festival, and Ecofalante Environmental Film Festival in Brazil.

From the Filmmakers

“At MVFF, we learned the power of a positive environmental message—the audience was extremely enthusiastic, people told me they cried when we brought all the rebels to the stage, and the rebels got a standing ovation at both screenings. The outreach/audience engagement campaign, which started in October 2012—and is still going on—is based on that basic ‘power of a positive message’ lesson we took away from the MVFF premiere. That also informed the promotional campaign for the broadcast.”

How to See the Film

For home viewing (both DVD and streaming):

How to Stay Active

  • Coordinate educational or community screenings:
  • Download the free viewers guide
  • In the San Francisco Bay Area, invite the “rebels” in the film and/or the filmmakers to take part in a Q&A
  • In other parts of the US and the world, invite your own local rebels to do a Q&A. Says Nancy Kelly, “I have seen a lot of actions take place as a result of these local rebels taking the stage. Here is one:

“A young rebel who joined me for a Q&A after a screening in Wilmington DE wanted the members of his environmental organization, Save the Valley, to see Rebels with a Cause. Because his members didn’t watch DVDs, we got a grant to do free streaming of the film to the first 250 people who streamed it, and I and the rebels from the film took questions from the viewers. One result: Three of the rebels in our film were key players in the Trust for Public Land (a very successful land saving organization), and TPL started helping Save the Valley.”

Related Organizations:

Multicultural Environmental Leadership Development Initiative

National Park Service

The Trust for Public Land

Sierra Club