Podcast Interview with James Redford: “I Ask Myself ─ Even if Nothing Comes of It, Will it Enrich My Life by My Having Spent Time on It?’”

UPDATE ON James Redford

Screening of MANN vs. FORD
Wednesday, July 6, 7:00 p.m.
at The Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center

Director Maro Chermayeff and producer James Redford will introduce and discuss a screening of their powerful new documentary Mann v. Ford, focusing on one of the largest toxic-waste cases in American history. Just 35 miles north of New York City, the Ramapough, a small tribe of Native Americans, are dying from rare cancers and strange illnesses at an alarming rate. The known culprit is Ford Motor Company, which two generations ago began dumping industrial waste from their lucrative Mahwah plant on these poor and remote mountain homes. Is this a case of incompetence, corruption or corporate greed? With often startling access, this film follows community leader Wayne Mann and a team of lawyers as they fight to be heard and recognized.

Executive Producer: Donald Everett Axinn
Producers: Maro Chermayeff, James Redford, Micah Fink.
Directors: Maro Chermayeff, Micah Fink.

(US 2011) 105 min.
1118 Fourth Street, San Rafael
415.454.1222 • www.cafilm.org


Read the rest of the original HS Radio interview  below:


From the supermarket tabloid headlines glaring out at us as we stand in line to check out our groceries, one gets the impression that any scion of a Hollywood superstar is bound to be self-seeking, superficial, dim-witted and disorderly. But if you thought that about James Redford, you’d discover in about two seconds after meeting him that you were wrong… so wrong.

In fact, the highest compliment I can give Jamie Redford after my interview with him is that he reminds me of my husband, who is my benchmark for measuring integrity, intelligence, and selflessness in men. (And they’re both from the west coast of the U.S. They grow ’em real good out here ─ must be all the sunshine.)

If you have any interest in the Redford family and their doings, you’ll want to listen to this podcast, or even if you just in the mood to hear an inspiring story about a courageous, remarkable human being. For those who can’t access the audio, the gist of the Jamie’s story goes like this:

James Redford Quote
After suffering severe stomach problems from the age of 15, and being continually misdiagnosed, he finally learned that he had ulcerative colitis. Nonetheless, he managed to play guitar, be physically active, eventually go off to college and earn his Bachelor’s degree in creative writing and film from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a Master’s degree in literature from Northwestern University. However, in a rare complication of the colitis,one much deadlier than the original disease itself, he developed primary sclerosing cholangitus ─ the blocking of the liver’s bile ducts ─ and was told his liver would eventually fail. Jame’s condition deteriorated rapidly, and he was admitted to the University of Nebraska Medical Center to deal with horrific pain and dangerous infection while waiting for a new liver. All of this happening to him at the ripe old age of 25.

A liver at last became available, but not long after the transplant it also began to fail, and James was readmitted to the hospital to wait yet again, closer to death every day, for another donor liver. Thankfully, a second one was found, and this time the transplant was a success.

James Redford Quote It was during this ordeal that James starting thinking about the donor families and the courage and selflessness it took for them to be cognizant of their opportunity to give another person – a stranger – a second chance at life, while their own loved ones lay dying. He wanted to educate the public about the urgent need for donors, and erase the “Frankenstein image” attached, in addition to honoring donor families with the tribute they so richly deserved. And so, he established The James Redford Institute for Transplant Awareness (JRI), a nonprofit dedicated to educating the public about the need for organ and tissue donation through film, educational outreach and the web. Through the JRI, he produced The Kindness of Strangers, an award-winning HBO documentary film, and Flow, a short drama targeted to high schools and community-based youth programs.

As a liver transplant recipient, James thinks it is “natural” for him to continue to speak to audiences about the miracle of organ donation. “Anybody would do it,” is what he says in our interview. Somehow, I don’t think that switching out someone’s internal organs would drastically change that person’s intrinsic generosity and/or self-centeredness. Especially as James, who calls himself “just a white boy” is also working on The Forgotten, a documentary about the Iroquois Confederacy and its impact upon the democratic ideals of the Founding Fathers of The United States of America, and Mann V. Ford, an HBO documentary about the Ramapough Indians of New Jersey and their fight against the toxic legacy of the Ford Motor Corporation. These for no reason other than that James thinks their stories should be told.

James Redford Quote Other more mainstream credits include adapting and directing Spin, starring Stanley Tucci, Dana Delany, and Ruben Blades. James also wrote the original screenplays for Cowboy Up, starring Kiefer Sutherland and Darryl Hannah, as well as Skinwalkers, a PBS/Mystery! film which was the highest rated PBS program of 2002. James has also just completed writing and directing Quality Time, a short comedy starring Jason Patric, which will be premiering at the L.A. Film Festival in late July 2010. James filmed Quality Time in Marin County, California, where he lives with his devoted and beloved wife, Kyle, and their two children, Dylan and Lena. Two liver transplants have also not put James off from his long-held passion for music─ he plays his home town local music scene as a guitarist and songwriter with the Phat Barbees.

Note: I am honored to be speaking at the same charity conference where James will be keynote speaker, (along with Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn.) The First Annual Capitol City Young Writers Conference will be held here in Marin County on July 17, 2010, from 9-5 at San Domenico School in San Anselmo. Other speakers are (in alphabetical order) Peter Beren, David Corbett, Verna Dreisbach, Jane Friedman, Leah Garchik, Deborah Grabien, Seth Harwood, Paul Kaufman, Michael Krasny, Kay Kostopoulos, Vicki Larson, Gil Mansergh, Nick Petrulakis, Jeannette Sears, Huntington Sharp, Ransom Stephens, Bob Yehling, and Jeromy Zajonc. For info on this conference, click here.

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