Magazine Feature / People

Alumnus advocates for new American dream in documentary film

Growing up in the Denver suburb of Montbello, David Edwards (BA ’97), president and CEO of Emotion Pictures Productions, spent his adolescence coveting cars and the freedom they offered.

Today, as the producer, writer and director of the documentary film Sprawling from Grace: The Consequences of Suburbanization, Edwards argues that the unchecked suburban expansion of the past few decades has trapped Americans behind the wheels of their automobiles.

“Americans are not addicted to oil,” he says. “Americans are addicted to unencumbered transportation.”

With contributions from numerous experts, Sprawling from Grace advocates for a new, sustainable vision of the American dream. Rather than expanding suburbia, the film argues that city governments should invest in mixed-use communities where nearby public transportation can take you anywhere that your own two feet can’t.

Such measures, the film argues, can assuage many of the unintended consequences of suburban sprawl by reducing traffic congestion and gas emissions and providing individuals with a choice; continue to devote money towards car costs or channel those resources into other avenues.

The film has received letters of commendation from former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore and a Platinum Ava Award for best documentary. Cinema Libre Studio will distribute the film on its Earth Now label; a launch is planned for April 22, 2009 β€” Earth Day.

“It is my wish that through this film I can awake the stewards in all of us to kindle a vision of hope,” Edwards says.

Edwards started EMotion Pictures in 1995 as a DU student while producing his first documentary, Witches Among Us, about alternative and pagan religions.

Edwards’ comprehensive studies at DU β€” majoring in communications, graphic design and digital media studies β€” have enabled him to run a company that offers a multitude of services including film and video production, graphics and animation, postproduction and Web and CD-Rom development.

“It’s made me a better producer because you really need to round yourself out to have a clear vision of how things come together,” Edwards says of his education.

Although corporate projects have been the bread and butter of EMotion Pictures, Edwards has retained his zeal for documentary film.

“I’m a political person and a passionate person about my ideas,” Edwards says. “Through documentary film we are able to open new avenues and make people more inquisitive. I think I am doing something that has meaning.”

Edwards has two projects in the works, the documentary Justice in Uganda: Dancing Without Music, which examines the root causes of genocide and civil war in Africa, and his debut feature film narrative, The Ship, which he describes as The Sandlot meets ET.

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