MSU NEWS SERVICE
The local premiere of “Youth v Gov,” an award-winning documentary made by a Montana State University film graduate about a group of young people who sued the government for violating their rights to a clean climate, is set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 23, in Ballroom A of the Strand Union Building.
The screening will be followed by a question-and-answer session with the filmmaker and chief litigator in the case. The event is free and open to the public, although tickets are required. They are available at tinyurl.com/youthvgovatmsu.
The student-led MSU Leadership Institute is organizing the screening and discussion with Christi Cooper, the MSU film graduate who produced and directed the feature-length documentary. Julia Olson, chief legal counsel for Juliana v. the United States, will join Cooper for the question-and-answer session.
“Youth v Gov” tells the story of 21 American youths, now aged between 13 to 24, who sued the U.S. government on Fifth Amendment grounds, claiming that their rights to life, liberty, and property have been infringed through actions they claim created a climate crisis that they must inherit.
“This is an incredible opportunity to host the premiere and to be able to ask questions to an Emmy award-winning director and the lead attorney on this ground-breaking case,” said Carmen McSpadden, director of the MSU Leadership Institute.
Olson, chief counsel for the plaintiffs, is the founder of Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit law firm. Her work focuses on representing young people and helping them speak up for the quality of their lives and of future generations. Olson is a recipient of the Rose-Walters Prize for Global Environmental Activism and received the Kerry Rydberg Award for Environmental Activism in 2017.
Cooper, who also has a doctorate in neuroscience and a master’s degree in microbiology, received her Master of Fine Art degree from MSU in Science and Natural History Filmmaking in 2014. In addition to numerous awards for other film projects, “Youth v Gov” has screened at 51 festivals around the world, winning 25 awards, including the Grand Teton Award from Jackson Wild, ReelWomenDirect Award for Excellence in Directing by a Woman, Best of Festival and Best Feature Documentary from Woods Hole Film Festival, and Best Feature Film from Port Townsend Film Festival, among others. She and a number of MSU film graduates received a regional Emmy for “Indian Relay” in 2014.
Cooper’s “Youth v Gov” film crew includes 12 MSU alumni. The March 23 event will also help mark the 20th anniversary celebration of MSU’s MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking program.
In addition to Cooper, other MSU-related film crew for the documentary included fellow MFA graduates Liz Smith (2007), co-producer; Danny Schmidt (2012), camera; Stephani Gordon (2010), camera; Andy Adkins (2013), camera; Roshan Patel (2016), additional camera; Sharon Pieczenic (2008), additional camera; Samantha Bates (2019), intern; Jason Roehrig (2020), production assistant and Stefanie Watkins (2008), Kickstarter trailer editing. Crew members who have undergraduate degrees from MSU’s film program included William Lake Springstead (2013), assistant editor; Korey Kaczmarek (2015), cinematographer and Heidi DuBose (2002), sound. Faculty member Dennis Aig, program director of the MFA program and a veteran award-winning filmmaker, served as co-producer.
The event is presented by the MSU Leadership Institute and sponsored by Office of the Provost, ASMSU, College of Arts and Architecture, Diversity and Inclusion Student Commons, Honors College, Department of Native American Studies, MSU Model United Nations, Sustainability Now, MSU Leadership Fellows Program and the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.