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A Filming Nature

Written by Cara J. Hayden



Some 25 years ago in a Pitt literature class, Jeffrey Sewald read a novel that was set in a South American rainforest. The book, At Play in the Fields of the Lord, made him see the world anew and motivated him to read more novels written by the author, Peter Matthiessen. For more than 50 years, the author’s fiction and nonfiction—which focus on mankind’s relationship with nature—have been inspiring readers like Sewald to think about the world and to advocate for the environment, wildlife, and social justice. After graduating from Pitt, Sewald (A&S ’84) became a writer and filmmaker and eventually crossed paths with Matthiessen. This year, he released a documentary about the author, Peter Matthiessen: No Boundaries, which premiered nationally on PBS in April. “Although Peter is not a scientist by background, his writing and innate spirituality have brought the issues of nature versus technology, human oppression, and the destruction of wildlife and natural habitats to the forefront of conservationist thinking,” says Sewald, who produced, wrote, and directed the film.