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Oscar-nominated filmmaker captures horrors of California wildfires

Lucy Walker embeds herself in the firefight in "Bring Your Own Brigade."

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Lucy Walker, an Emmy Award-winning and Oscar-nominated British film director created a character-driven, verité documentary that captures the horror and heroism of the deadliest week of wildfires in California history and explores the causes and solutions of a global crisis that is quite literally burning our world to the ground.

In early November 2018, raging wildfires killed 88 residents and destroyed tens of thousands of homes in the cities of Malibu and Paradise, two very different California communities.

In her new documentary, Walker captures the heroism and horror of that unfathomable disaster. Her character-driven exposé, “Bring Your Own Brigade”, also answers a question humanity can no longer afford to ignore: Why are catastrophic wildfires increasing in number and severity around the world, and can anything be done to lessen the staggering death and destruction they cause?

The documentary captures hundreds of hours of astonishing wildfire footage and features interviews with survivors, firefighters, and scientists. The film reveals there are numerous and often simple steps that can be taken to help restore the health and balance to woodlands that have been mismanaged for far too long.

The Hollywood Reporter has called Walker “the new Errol Morris” and Variety has praised her unique ability to connect with audiences.

Walker’s films have been shortlisted for five Oscars and nominated for seven Emmys, an Independent Spirit Award, a DGA Award and a Gotham Award, winning over 100 other film awards. For her advertising work, she has been recognized with three Cannes Lions, two Clios and two Association of Independent Commercial Producers Awards, among many other honors.

Walker’s credits include feature documentaries The Crash Reel (2013), Waste Land (2010), Countdown to Zero (2010), Blindsight (2006), Devil’s Playground (2002) and short films such as The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom (2011) and The Lion’s Mouth Opens (2014). Her television work includes 20 episodes of Nickelodeon “Blue’s Clues.”

Walker grew up in England and graduated from Oxford University with top honors and a degree in literature. There, she directed theater and musicals before winning a Fulbright scholarship to attend the graduate film program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. At Tisch she earned an M.F.A. degree and directed award-winning short films. While living in New York Walker also enjoyed a successful career as a DJ and musician.

Walker is also an acclaimed virtual reality director. Her first VR experience, A History of Cuban Dance (2016), premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and showed at both SXSW and the Toronto International Film Festival. She has directed branded VR experiences for Airbnb, TOMS Shoes, Vaseline, Vice and the Buena Vista Social Club.

Walker now lives in Venice, California.

In 2017 she took over organizing and curating TEDxVeniceBeach and hosted a wildly successful inaugural event featuring talks by Diane von Furstenberg, Moby and Agnès Varda, among others.

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