Law of the Land Vs. Law of Nature
Bidder 70
Review by Ross Anthony

If preserving the beauty of America's most awe-inspiring national parks meant risking 10 years in prison, would you take that risk? If some small action on your part would result in making the world a better place, but leave your personal freedom in a vulnerable spot -- would you take that action? We all love to breathe in the natural beauty of a lush forest, but would we live months in the trees to save them? It's easy for us to point our fingers at the imprudent deal-making between government and big energy, but how often do we look inside ourselves and scrutinize the dis-empowering deal-making that goes on between our desire for universal justice and our sense of personal security? Has living in one of the world's richest countries made us too comfortable?

Released from custody in 2013, Tim DeChristopher, a University of Utah economics student, disrupted a 2008 Bureau of Land Management auction of pristine Utah land surrounding national parks by deceptively outbidding other attendees, effectively preserving thousands of acres slated for lease to oil and gas industry giants. Although the auction was subsequently invalidated (thereby saving over 100,000 acres of land), DeChristopher (bidder number 70) was indicted on two felony counts and faced a possibility of 10 years in prison. This short documentary follows Tim's trials and tribulations as he publicly clarifies his mission by refusing settlements. He's convinced that it's time for individual humans to take individual stands in order to counter current climate change trajectories, and maintain a planet habitable for humans. After 10 postponements, his case is finally brought (in a limited capacity) before a jury of his peers. In the meantime, his journey as an environmental activist/civil disobedient provides momentum and energy to those around him.

A paraphrase of Tim's quote from the film: "When you let go of the fear and 'go all out' to stop injustice, despite the external danger and difficulties, there is something healthy, healing, and peaceful that happens internally."

Inspired by Tim's courage, a fellow Utahan remarks, "It makes you realize that you are powerful. That you can change the world. And then ask yourself … so why aren't you?"

The documentary stays steadfastly focused on Tim's point of view and those of his supporters including a Nobel Prize winner and Robert Redford among other celebs. Alternative scenarios, by contrast, receive almost no coverage. Interviews with jurors after the trial would have broadened and strengthened the production. Nonetheless, as it stands, this is a well-paced, well-edited, compelling, inspiring film energized by a courageous American. I recommend viewing it.

Some years back, I had the pleasure of strapping a tent to the seat of a 250cc dirt bike and crisscrossing Utah's majestic, natural, red-rock beauty. So, I say, "Thank you Bidder 70 for helping make such a soul-enriching journey possible for future generations."

Q&A with Filmmaker Beth Gates:

RA: Were you able to talk to any of the jurors after the judgment? If not, why? Or have they given statements related to the case anywhere else?

BG: No we weren’t able to interview any of them.  One juror started to speak out to someone in Peaceful Uprising, then got nervous and decided not to speak to anyone from media.  

RA: How about interviews with other bidders at the auction?

BG: We weren’t at the auction.  We cobbled together that footage.  I did see one energy person interviewed on the news but he was very dull and said what you’d expect: that Tim made it difficult for businessmen to do their job..

RA: How was Tim treated in prison by the other inmates? What were their reactions when they learned how he ended up among them?

BG: Because Tim is out of town and out of reach, I’ll tell you what he’s told folks when he’s done Q&A after “Bidder 70”.  At his first prison, which was county jail, the inmates gave him gifts of candy bars, etc. because they knew what he’d done and they were impressed that he’d stood up to “the man”.   In other federal prisons, he was also treated with respect because he was viewed as a political prisoner.  Once Tim was put in “isolation”.  He was especially sought out after he managed to get himself out after only three weeks because as soon as his supporters found out he was in isolation, they made so many calls and complaints to the Bureau of Prisons, that he was released.  That made the other inmates realize they might be able to fight against the system that was imprisoning them.  Tim was released from that prison and transferred to yet another federal prison.

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  • Bidder 70. Copyright © 2013.
  • Written, Produced, and Directed by Beth Gage and George Gage. First Run Features. 73 Minutes.

Grade..........................A- (3/4)


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Copyright © 1998-2019 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.


Last Modified: Saturday, 15-Jun-2013 20:50:18 PDT