Communications professor's film about Ohio farmer has world premiere at Australian film festival

Bliss DeVault's film focuses on farmer Paul Strauss' rehabilitation of strip-mined land | March 4, 2013

A documentary film by Blis DeVault, director of Xavier’s TV Center and assistant professor of Communication Arts, is receiving its world premiere at Australia’s Byron Bay International Film Festival. “Sanctity of Sanctuary: Paul Strauss and the Equinox Farm,” premieres on March 10 at 1:00 p.m. along with more than 200 films from more than 30 countries being screened during the week-long event.

Festival entries include feature films, documentaries, animation and short films that support and celebrate local and international cinema. DeVault's film is entered in the environmental category. “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. The film inspires people to live sustainably and to appreciate, cherish and protect the earth.

Renowned herbalist Paul Strauss has rehabilitated land 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 around the world and holds classes on his 300-acre organic farm located near the Ohio River in Meigs County in eastern Ohio. His vision and leadership have attracted like-minded people to purchase land in the area. These tracts are joined 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 5000 days project—and DeVault 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 and Ohio University School of Visual Communication. She has produced several award-winning documentaries, including “The Roller Derby Queens,” which have aired on PBS. Learn more about the film at the IMDb website.