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Amanda Rodriguez ’04: Exploring Our Connection With Nature

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Stories Happen in Forests is an internationally recognized and award-winning short documentary produced and directed by Amanda Rodriguez ‘04 in association with videographer Andrea Desky of Call to Action Creative. Stories Happen in Forests is Amanda’s first film, and premiered online due to the pandemic in 2020. It will have its first in-person premiere on September 26, 2021, at Dogwood Alliance’s 25th Anniversary event in Asheville, NC. 

In a post for Dogwood Alliance, Amanda wrote about the story behind Stories Happen in Forests—explaining what was happening behind the scenes of her first film, and defining its mission: to listen to simple and authentic stories through candid interviews who share their personal connections to the forest.

“Those stories range from a professional mountain biker to a 5th grader learning science. From a wilderness guide recording from addiction to a mushroom forager. From a forester who combines the ethics of forestry and hip hop to a Pulitzer Prize-nominated author who listens to the songs of trees.” 

Stories Happen in Forests was chosen as the Short Documentary category winner of Indie Fanfilmfest International, the winner of the award of merit of Impact DOCS Awards, and the recipient of the audience choice award of Cinema Verde International Environmental Film Festival. It is a production of environmental nonprofit Dogwood Alliance – whose mission is to “advance environmental justice and climate action by mobilizing diverse voices to protect southern forests and communities from industrial logging.”

Amanda Rodriguez ’04

The stories we ultimately shared have a simplicity and an authenticity that really speak to people. I knew the stories were heartbreakingly beautiful, but I was still surprised that my first film, a documentary with so few bells and whistles, would get so much praise and recognition. Maybe the film reminds people of their own experiences of the forest. Or maybe it shows people a way that others connect to nature that they’d never imagined before.” 

Amanda is a queer, first generation Cuban-Sicilian American and the Marketing Director for Dogwood Alliance. She holds a BA in Language Literature and Culture from Antioch College and an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina.

Visit Dogwood Alliance to read Amanda’s post and learn more about the film.