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Followed by an in-person Q&A with the Filmmaker

“A fantastic voyage through America’s past and present, from its breathtaking, unspoiled beginnings to its growth as a global industrial power – all along a frequently overlooked river.” – Bill Westhoven, Reporter, USA Today


Mary Bruno spent her childhood along one of the most polluted waterways in America.  Decades later, she returns to kayak the river of her youth and tell its story.

AMERICAN RIVER is a new 86-minute documentary film that follows Ms. Bruno and guide Carl Alderson on a 4-day, 80 mile adventure down the Passaic River, from its pristine source in a wildlife refuge to its toxic mouth in Newark Bay. The river’s amazing history, geology and ecology are revealed as the kayakers navigate challenges, travel through urban landscapes and head towards the industrial disaster that has poisoned the Passaic for the past 60 years. 

Along the way, the filmmakers engage residents, historians and advocates in candid conversations that bring insight, urgency and a sense of wonder to the story. How did the Passaic become one of the most contaminated rivers in America?  Can it be saved? The Passaic is an archetype for thousands of rivers across America facing similar reckonings.

Three years in the making, AMERICAN RIVER was directed by seasoned filmmaker Scott Morris and based on Mary Bruno’s 2012 book, An American River: From Paradise to Superfund. Like the book, the film is a unique blend of personal memoir, adventure, history and science. The entire journey was captured in grand and intimate scale from the water, land and air by an experienced crew with ten 4K cameras. An original score, high-end graphics and rare archival images enhance the story. 



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