|THE PEOPLE AND THE OLIVE|
|Crew: ||Producers: Aaron Dennis, Jacob Wheeler - Cinematographer: Aaron Dennis - Editor: Aaron Dennis|
To raise awareness about the struggles of Palestinian fair trade olive farmers -- and to replant uprooted olive trees -- six Americans set out in February 2012 to run 129 miles in five days across the West Bank of Palestine. The Run Across Palestine was organized by the Traverse City, Michigan-based nonprofit On the Ground, which works to support sustainable community development in farming regions across the world. Joining them was a media team comprised of a filmmaker, two journalists and a musical ambassador.The runners faced many barriers in the endeavor - barriers that represented a microcosm of what their Palestinian friends face every day. Along the way, they forged deep bonds with their hosts while witnessing the harsh political reality and uplifting beauty of life in the West Bank.The run was supported by the Palestine Fair Trade Association, a collective of over 1700 small-scale farmers in the West Bank who have embraced fair trade practices to sustain their future and to sell their products worldwide.During the run, filmmaker Aaron Dennis and journalist Jacob Wheeler created a daily web series that told the story of these farmers. The videos have received over 10,000 views worldwide. Dennis and Wheeler have since created a feature-length documentary, The People and the Olive, which narrates the drama of the run and the challenges and uplifting stories of the farmers.
Aaron Dennis, has over ten years of professional experience working around the globe on film and video projects. A graduate of the University of Michigan's Cinema Arts program, Dennis began his career in Malawi, Africa filming the work of Malaria and AIDS researchers. Afterwards he spent five years in New York City working on several PBS documentaries including the award-winning four-part "Supreme Court" series. In 2007 he spent seven months filming the Tibetan communities of India, Nepal and Tibet to create an archive of a rapidly changing culture. The importance of family and the natural world led him to return in 2008 to his beautiful hometown of Traverse City, Michigan. From there he worked independently before founding Stone Hut Studios in 2011.