Film poster for "Pushed Up The Mountain" with illustration of person pushing up flower on mountain.
Film poster for "Pushed Up The Mountain" with illustration of person pushing up flower on mountain.
A poetic and personal film about plants and the people who care for them


Regular price $129.00


SILVER AWARD - University Film Video Association Conference | Environmental Film Festival at Yale | Wild & Scenic Film Festival - US Premiere

Conservation • Environment • Globalization • Biodiversity • China • Climate Change • Gardening • Humanities • Geography • Geology • History

Date of Completion: 2020 | Run Time: 76 minutes​​ | Language: English & Mandarin with English subtitles | Captions: Yes | Includes: Transcript | Director: Julia Haslett | Producer: Julia Haslett | Co-Producer: Mengqi Jiang

PUSHED UP THE MOUNTAIN is a poetic and personal film about plants and the people who care for them. Through the tale of the migrating rhododendron, now endangered in its native China, the film reveals how high the stakes are for all living organisms in this time of unprecedented destruction of the natural world. Beginning in the Scottish Highlands, in the garden of the filmmaker's godfather, the film travels between conservationists in China and Scotland who devote their lives to the rhododendron’s survival. Patiently observed footage of conservationists at work combines with centuries-old landscape paintings and the filmmaker’s speculative voice to create a thought-provoking film about human efforts to protect nature for and from ourselves.

UNC-Chapel Hill | Elizabeth Havice, Professor of Geography
Pushed Up the Mountain takes viewers on a visually dazzling and provocative exploration of the historical and geographic connections that make global conservation. By bringing the rhododendron to life from the vantage point of colonial histories, scientific discovery and the passion of advocates, it compels the viewer to imagine what else the ancient flower might bring into being. Equally perfect for students of geography, ecology and conservation or the curious plant lover, this timely film offers the rhododendron as a window into the pressing questions that the earth and its inhabitants face in an era of dramatic environmental change."

Educational Media Reviews Online | Kristan Majors, Woodruff Library, Emory University
Recommended. "The documentary has portions relevant to college and university courses studying herbaria, botanical museums & collections, seed banks, and botanical & conservation gardens."

University of Colorado BoulderJennifer Ho, Eaton Professor of Humanities and the Arts
"...Pushed up the Mountain is really important, powerful, and topical right now in terms of climate change, conservation, and taking a longer view about humans' relationship to nature. The ways that viewers learn about the rhododendron and how it has benefited the landscape/ecosystem and thus humans (and pandas) is a critical message. It also shows people that there are Chinese who are working on these issues. This is important because China is so often represented in a very monolithic way in the media—as a polluter, as an authoritarian nation, as a country that is backwards."

Binghamton University | Fa-ti Fan, Professor of History

“This film is profound, enthralling, and easily relatable. It deserves to be seen by students and anyone who is interested in the contemporary issues of nature, conservation, and Chinese-Western relationships and their history.”

Sierra Club | Robbie Cox, former President
"Stunning and urgent, this film quickens our awareness of nature's loss and, for conservationists particularly, invites an ethic of caring in defense of plants and their shrinking habitat."

 Film Threat | Kyle Bain
"The rhododendron, and what Haslett is able to bring to life, is unique and groundbreaking […] This is truly the most captivating documentary I’ve seen in a long time."

Simon Kilmurry, Former Executive Director of IDA and POV
"[The film] has such a tender, yearning tone gently calling our attention to the madness that we wreak on nature and ultimately ourselves. There are so many layers at work - from colonialism to connection across border and time, in timescales long and short."

Julia Haslett is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and educator whose expressionistic documentaries have screened around the world. Her most recent feature PUSHED UP THE MOUNTAIN is a documentary about plants and the people who care for them. It premiered at Banff Mountain Film Festival in Canada and has gone onto screen at numerous international film festivals, including Trento, Wild & Scenic, and the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital (DCEFF). Her first feature, An Encounter with Simone Weil, premiered at IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam), won Michael Moore’s Special Founder’s Prize at Traverse City Film Festival, and was a New York Magazine Critic's Pick. It was broadcast throughout Europe and the former Soviet Republics by Viasat History. She is producer/director of the Worlds Apart series about healthcare inequities in the US, and producer of the companion hour-long PBS documentary Hold Your Breath. Her shorts have screened at, among other festivals, Full Frame, Black Maria, and Rooftop Films. Her work has been recognized by fellowships at MacDowell, IFP Documentary Lab, Wildacres, and VCCA (Virginia Center for the Creative Arts).

Julia has screened and discussed her documentary work at numerous academic institutions in the US, including Stanford, Vassar, Northwestern, NYU, and University of Houston. Internationally, she has lectured at, among others, Renmin University (Beijing), Sun Yat-sen University (Guangzhou), and Carleton University (Ottawa). In addition, she has spoken at a number of cultural institutions including The Huntington Library, New York Society for Ethical Culture, and the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art.

Julia got her start at WGBH-Boston (PBS) and the Discovery Channel, and then went onto be a Filmmaker-in-Residence at Stanford University’s Center for Biomedical Ethics. Since then, she served as Visiting Associate Professor / Head of Film & Video Production in The University of Iowa’s Department of Cinematic Arts. Currently, she is assistant professor of media production at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, where she teaches courses on documentary, first-person, and environmental filmmaking. She is particularly interested in how the essay film can introduce audiences to complex ideas as well as provide a forum for college students to transform academic content into film and media projects.