“Public Trust” offers a condemning indictment of the Trump Administration’s record on protecting public lands from private interests.
The film explores three national parks that gas, mining, and oil industries currently have their sights on. Discussed are the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. With sweeping shots of panoramic vistas and sobering interviews with activists, the film makes the case that a broader effort to privatize public lands is now gaining steam.
‘Public Trust’ has a political message
Patagonia is an outdoor gear and clothing company. It also produces feature films. The company is unabashed about its political activism, weighing in on climate policies and voting rights.
Robert Redford, an actor and director, is one of the executive producers of “Public Trust.” He has released statements decrying the current political climate and endorsing Joe Biden. Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard also executive produced.
The filmmakers decided to release the film for free on YouTube to raise public awareness. They dropped it on September 25, the day before National Public Lands Day.
“Telling the story of public lands is a tall order, and we knew we couldn’t make a film that covered the entirety of its 640 million acres across such diverse geography. It’s not one thing, it’s not managed by one agency—it’s incredibly complex,” Director David Byars told Fast Company. “So we knew we needed to distill it down to elements that encapsulated these issues.”
Some critique the film for leaving out past faults of other presidents. The Vail Daily points out that the film turns a blind eye to the Obama Administration’s offenses on conservation matters. They also say it oversimplifies the issue of federal versus local government control of public lands.
“Public Trust”’s overarching message, though, is that public lands across the country are under threat. The film aims to wholeheartedly encourage Patagonia’s belief in the importance of public lands. Because, as journalist Hal Herring says in the film, “the American public lands as important to a future that we want to live in as the Bill of Rights or the U.S. Constitution.”