CINCINNATI — A feature documentary by Blis DeVault, director of Xavier University’s TV Center, will have its world premiere at 1 p.m. March 10, at the Byron Bay International Film Festival in Australia. It will be among more than 200 films from more than 30 countries including feature films, documentaries, animation and short films that support and celebrate local and international cinema.
“The Sanctity of Sanctuary: Paul Strauss and the Equinox Farm,” is an Appalachian love affair between a man, his farm and his desire to make the world a better place. This film strives to ignite the green spark within us to live sustainably and to appreciate, cherish and protect the earth.
Strauss, a renowned herbalist, has rehabilitated land in Rutland Township in Meigs County left bare by strip mines and has helped to create the United Plant Savers Sanctuary to preserve endangered medicinal plants. He is visited by herbalists from all over the world and holds classes on his 300-acre organic farm. His vision and leadership have attracted like-minded people to purchase land in the area. These tracts are joined together by a walking trail that has become an eco-tourist destination called “The Talking Forest Medicine Trail.” This is DeVault’s first independently produced feature documentary.
“I’m excited that an Ohio story resonates with a national audience,” says DeVault. “It is a great story about how one individual can and has made an impact for the betterment of the planet. We sometimes forget how the individual can make a difference and this story is a wonderful reminder that we can all be agents for change.”
In addition to the film screening, DeVault will also be part of a workshop, “Changing the world one frame at a time.” Writer, director and producer Rick Stevenson — Official Best of Fest, The Best Films You’ve Never Seen and The 5,000-day project — and filmmaker Blis DeVault — The Sanctity of Sanctuary: Paul Strauss and the Equinox Farm — will talk about the positive, transformative nature of film and filmmaking and getting your message out there through independent, creative and contemporary approaches to funding, production and distribution.
DeVault, a Cleveland native, is a graduate of Ohio University School of Film (MFA) and Ohio University School of Visual Communication (MA), and an assistant professor of Communication Arts at Xavier University. She has produced several award-winning documentaries, including The Roller Derby Queens, which have aired on PBS.