PUBLIC TRUST – A Review by Cynthia Flores

PUBLIC TRUST – A Review by Cynthia Flores

This documentary is a must-see before you head out to the ballot boxes. In a time of growing inequality in America, one asset remains in the American people’s hands. The 640 million acres of America’s public lands. It’s a resource that, once lost, will have devastating repercussions to our way of life and even that of the world. Held in trust by the federal government for all United States citizens, these places are a stronghold against climate change, sacred to native people, home to wildlife, and intrinsic to our national identity. But today, despite support from voters across the political spectrum, they face unprecedented threats from extractive industries and the politicians in their pockets. Given a status as the most massive land grab in modern history, the super-wealthy have set their sights on our unique birthright.

Director David Byars comes from a cinematography background, and it shows. The images of the fantastic wild, untouched lands that we have here in the US are breathtaking. You’ll want to add some of these places to your bucket list after seeing this movie. He uses historical facts intercut with interviews of people that live and work the land in an effective approach that educates us to the history of our public lands. This sets a good foundation of information as it also instills pride in having such wonders in our country.

Public Trust is part love letter and part political exposé. It investigates how we arrived at this precarious moment through three heated conflicts—a national monument in the Utah desert, a proposed mine in the Boundary Waters, and oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The film makes a case for their continued protection.

When asked why he decided to do this documentary, filmmaker David Byars is quoted as saying, “When I contemplate the unfathomable scale of this shared estate, I feel intense pride. And, in a time of accelerating wealth inequality and an era in which me and many of my generation will probably never own any land, I feel fury at those who would rob me and my fellow Americans of what belongs to all of us.”

I give Public Trust a 5-star rating. Because in a time of growing polarization, Americans still share something in common: 640 million acres of public land. This film reminds us to fight for what is ours, for ourselves, and generations to come.


Directed by: David Byars

Rated NR

Selig Rating 5 Stars

Running Time: 1hr 36min


Release: September 25th world-wide on YouTube (on the eve of National Public Lands Day)

Starring: Hal Herring


The Selig Rating Scale:

5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.

4 Stars – Good movie

3 Stars – OK movie

2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.

1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.

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