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No Man's Land

Synopsis

With unfettered access, Director and Director of Photography David Byars gives a detailed, on-the-ground account of the 2016 standoff between protestors occupying Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and federal authorities. After the leaders of this occupation put out a call to arms via social media, the Malheur occupiers quickly bolstered their numbers with a stew of right-wing militia, protestors, and onlookers.

What began as a protest to condemn the sentencing of two ranchers quickly morphed into a catchall for those eager to register their militant antipathy toward the federal government. During the 41-day siege, the filmmakers were granted remarkable access to the inner workings of the insurrection as the occupiers went about the daily business of engaging in an armed occupation.

NO MAN’S LAND documents the occupation from inception to its dramatic demise and tells the story of those on the inside of this movement - the ideologues, the disenfranchised, and the dangerously quixotic, attempting to uncover what draws Americans to the edge of revolution.

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The Filmmakers

David Garrett Byars Director/Director of Photography

David Garrett Byars will make his directorial debut at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival with NO MAN’S LAND, a documentary about the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge that sparked international headlines.

Byars is also currently working with Reel Thing’s Suzan Beraza as a producer and director of photography on her upcoming film MASSACRE RIVER. He joined Reel Thing Productions in 2009, working as an editor, cameraman, and sound technician on URANIUM DRIVE-IN.

Byars additional work includes directing two short films, SELF STORAGE, a narrative short about existential dread and redemption, and RECAPTURE, a short documentary chronicling the attempt of right-wing activists to reclaim the federally-managed Recapture Canyon in southern Utah.

Morgan Spurlock Executive Producer

Morgan Spurlock is a New York based writer, director and producer. His first film, SUPERSIZE ME, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004, winning Best Directing honors. The film went on to win the inaugural Writers Guild of America Best Documentary Screenplay award as well as garner an Academy Award nomination for Best Feature Documentary.

Since then he has directed, produced and distributed multiple film, TV and digital projects, including the critically acclaimed CNN television series MORGAN SPURLOCK INSIDE MAN, the FX series 30 DAYS and the films WHERE IN THE WORLD IS OSAMA BIN LADEN?, CONFESSIONS OF A SUPERHERO, CZECH DREAM, CHALK, THE FUTURE OF FOOD, WHAT WOULD JESUS BUY?, the WGA Award-winning and Emmy nominated THE SIMPSONS 20TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL: IN 3-D! ON ICE!, FREAKONOMICS, POM WONDERFUL PRESENTS: THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD, COMIC-CON: EPISODE IV – A FAN’S HOPE, MANSOME, and ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US.

Morgan is currently working on season three of MORGAN SPURLOCK INSIDE MAN FOR CNN and 7 DEADLY SINS FOR SHOWTIME. His upcoming digital projects include “CONNECTED,” the first long-form series for AOL and “SMARTISH,” a new premium branded content channel for Maker Studios.

 

Jeremy Chilnick Producer

Jeremy Chilnick is an Emmy-nominated writer and producer. He is currently Partner & COO at Morgan Spurlock’s New York based production company Warrior Poets, where he oversees all aspects of production for film, television and digital content. Since co-founding Warrior Poets, Chilnick has written and/or produced multiple films, and television series, and digital projects, including the critically acclaimed and IDA Award-winning CNN television series “Morgan Spurlock Inside Man”, Showtime’s “7 Deadly Sins”, WHERE IN THE WORLD IS OSAMA BIN LADEN?, the Emmy and WGA nominated “The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special: In 3-D! On Ice!”, FREAKONOMICS, POM WONDERFUL PRESENTS: THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD, COMIC-CON: EPISODE IV – A FAN’S HOPE, MANSOME, and ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US. His most recent credits include THE PISTOL SHRIMPS, VLOGUMENTARY, RATS and THE EAGLE HUNTRESS.

David Holbrooke Producer

David Holbrooke is the Festival Director of Telluride Mountainfilm, a film/ideas/art festival that takes place every Memorial Day weekend. He is also the director of THE DIPLOMAT, a documentary about his father, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. The film aired on HBO and was voted one of the Top Five Documentaries of 2015 by the prestigious National Board of Review. Holbrooke appeared on Charlie Rose, All Things Considered and The Daily Show to promote the film. His latest film is NO MAN’S LAND, which he produced and will premiere at Tribeca Film Festival in 2017.

Holbrooke spent more than a decade producing television news, working at CNBC, The Today Show, CBS News and CNN. He left that world to go work for a dotcom that had a great idea but terrible execution and it imploded. After 9/11, he started making documentaries that toured festivals all over the world and aired on HBO.

David Osit Producer/Editor

DAVID OSIT is a documentary film director, editor and composer. David co-directed/produced/edited the award-winning documentary THANK YOU FOR PLAYING, which premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival and broadcast on POV in the fall of 2016. He also edited and produced OFF FRAME, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016, and edited LIVE FROM NEW YORK!, the Opening Night Film of the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, which broadcast in the United States on NBC. David’s first feature documentary, BUILDING BABEL, which he directed, shot, edited and composed, premiered at True/False in 2012 and broadcast as the series premiere of PBS’s America Reframed in 2013. David studied Refugee Law at the American University of Cairo, and received his MFA in Social Documentary Film from the School of Visual Arts in New York.

Rachel Traub Producer

Rachel Traub is the Film Creative Executive at Warrior Poets where she oversees film development and co-productions, including PISTOL SHRIMPS which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival last year. Prior to her time at Warrior Poets, Traub previously worked in acquisitions at Wild Bunch's New York office.

Stash Wislocki Producer

For over 20 years, Stash Wislocki has worked on documentaries, independent films and network news. Several feature and short films he directed, played at film festivals around the world. Stash has worked for HBO, Felt Soul Media, Reel Thing Productions, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, ABC, Discovery, Patagonia, and Apple. He is the producer of NO MAN’S LAND, a documentary premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2017.

Apart from his own film work, Stash has been the producer of Telluride Mountainfilm for the past 15 years and his other festival credits include Sundance, Maui Film Festival, Dominican Republic Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival and FilmAid Film Festival in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Northern Kenya.

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Festivals & Awards

Tribeca Film Festival

2017

In January 2016, armed protestors in Oregon occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to call attention to what they felt was an intrusion by the federal government into their right to make a living. In a larger sense, the “patriot community” introduced itself as disgruntled American citizens with grounds for airing their grievances against a federal government that didn’t have their best interests at heart. The federal government begged to differ. 

David Byars’ No Man's Land offers a detailed account of the impasse, displaying unprecedented access to the protagonists of this incident, and culminating in a thrilling climax that resulted in the arrest and acquittal of occupation leaders Ammon and Ryan Bundy, and left another man dead. The film presents an unbiased snapshot of a crisis that ultimately proved a foreshadowing of our current political climate, and what may turn out to be a blueprint of future domestic encounters between our government and civilians.

—Cara Cusumano

+ Festival Website

AFI DOCS

2017

In 2016, a well-armed band of anti-government militants led by the sons of renegade rancher Cliven Bundy took control of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in an act of defiance against the feds. NO MAN’S LAND is the riveting account of the siege that followed and its aftermath. – Scott Mueller

+ Festival Website

Camden International Film Festival

2017

In January of 2016, protestors gathered in Burns, Oregon to denounce the federal sentencing of two ranchers. During the protest, a group led by Ammon Bundy broke off and took over nearby Malheur Wildlife Refuge. The occupation quickly attracted a stew of right-wing militia and protestors. What began as a protest to condemn the sentencing morphed into a catchall for those eager to register their militant antipathy toward the federal government. 

The Malheur occupation drew the national spotlight, attracting media fascinated by the spectacle of cowboys and militia rebelling against the federal government. The siege also attracted the attention of the FBI, who set up a command center nearby to counter the occupiers.

During the 41-day siege, the director and cinematographer David Byars was granted remarkable access to the inner workings of the insurrection as the militants went about the daily business of running an armed occupation. 

Events at Malheur took a bloody turn when federal agents waylaid the leaders of the occupation en route to a community meeting. A car chase ensued that resulted in the arrests of the entire insurgency leadership and the dramatic on-camera shooting death of LaVoy Finicum, the semi-official spokesman for the group. 

NO MAN’S LAND documents the occupation from inception to demise and tells the story of those on the inside of this movement, attempting to uncover what draws Americans to the edge of revolution.

+ Festival Website

Reviews

Harrowing and illuminating...an intensely visceral documentary.”

-The Hollywood Reporter

Byars looks this story in the eye and tells it straight...with chilling clarity.”

-Flavorwire