“Stewart Udall and the Politics of Beauty”
The film runs 1 hr. 17 mins. An interview with filmmaker John de Graaf follows the film.
"Stewart Udall and the Politics of Beauty", a feature documentary for Public Television and beyond, examines the trajectory of Udall’s life from his childhood through his Mormon mission, his World War II service, his student years at the University of Arizona, his time in Congress, and then, most significantly, his years as Secretary of the Interior. The program introduces us to the birth pangs of modern environmental politics, to figures like Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, David Brower, and John Saylor. We see how Udall’s ideas evolved, best illustrated in his conversion from a pro-power dam Arizona representative to the Interior Secretary who dealt the death blow to proposed Grand Canyon dams. We examine his long fight to win compensation for Navajo Indians and “downwinders” who got cancer from their exposure to radiation during the Cold War without being warned of the dangers. And we see the relevance of his concerns—he was the first public official to speak out about global warming, for example—to our current day crises.
In our angry, polarized time, Americans are looking for positive inspiration. The story of Stewart Udall brings audiences such inspiration and more. No American political figure is as relevant to the issues we face today as a nation--learning to work together, achieving racial and environmental justice, improving international relations, enhancing beauty and the arts, alleviating climate change and moving toward sustainability--as Stewart Udall.
John de Graaf has been producing and directing PBS documentaries for 43 years. He spent 31 years at KCTS, the Seattle PBS affiliate. Fifteen of his programs have been broadcast nationally in primetime on PBS, including his 1997 hit special, Affluenza. He has directed and written many biographies and history programs, including the PBS National Earth Day 1990 Special, For Earth’s Sake: The Life and Times of David Brower, which includes an interview with Stewart Udall. His 1992 biography of Japanese American internment resister Gordon Hirabayashi, A Personal Matter, won the highest award for legal reporting from the American Bar Association and inspired the acclaimed play Hold These Truths. He has won more than 100 regional, national, and international filmmaking awards, and The John de Graaf Environmental Filmmaking Award, named for him, is presented annually at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival in California.
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