'WILDLAND' documentary raising funds for firefighters' families

Photo courtesy of Ryan Heffernan

"You see wildfires, they are so mesmerizing. The idea that there are men and women that hike in to go and confront that, it's always been a mind blowing idea to me, so I really wanted to confront that."

Posted: Feb. 15, 2019 4:05 AM
Updated: Feb. 15, 2019 5:41 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The new firefighting documentary "WILDLAND" is coming to Eugene for a special screening.

"WILDLAND" features firefighters from Grants Pass during the course of the firefighter season. It follows the crew from the interview process, to training, onto the front lines and post-season. The film, which is 80-minutes long, was shot over the course of two fire seasons.

Both filmmakers, Alex Jablonski and Khalil Hudson, trained as wildland firefighters and were part of the crew in order to tell the story of what it takes to tackle fires.

"I think the biggest takeaway was just how difficult and exhausting this work is," Jablonski said. "It's a level of exhaustion that I had never experienced before because it goes on, and you are working 14 days straight."

According to Jablonski, the film was made with sweat equity. Wages he received as a wildland firefighter were donated to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

"The impetus for making this to me is that we only hear about wildland firefighters in the case of a tragedy," Jablonski said. "And even then, it's only a news story, just a blip. The work that these men and women do -- it's brutal. It's long. It's difficult. I wanted something where after seeing this film, you could never hear about a wildland fire on the radio, or see something on TV, without thinking about the men and women who are inside that fire fighting it."

The documentary first debuted nationally on PBS's Independent Lense in October 2018. A director's cut, which includes 27 minutes of footage not seen in the broadcast debut, is now being shown in theaters nationwide through Gathr Film's Theatrical on Demand.

"WILDLAND" is showing at the Regal Valley River Stadium 15 & IMAX Theatre in Eugene on Monday, Feb. 18, at 7:30 p.m. A screening is also scheduled in Bend on Feb. 27 at Old Mill Stadium 16 & IMAX. To purchase tickets, click here.

The showing in Eugene will raise funds to help families of firefighters killed in the line of duty as a portion of the proceeds will be earmarked for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation or the American Red Cross.

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