Three people hold a discussion on a small stage.
"Elemental: Reimagine Wildfire" director Trip Jennings (left); Rick O'Rourke, Yurok Tribe member and cultural fire practitioner (center); and Elizabeth Azzuz, Yurok Tribe member and treasurer of the Cultural Fire Management Council, participate in a panel following a screening of the wildfire documentary May 31.

Wildfire Film and Panel Cap Institute's Seminar Series

Events on energy transition, carbon sequestration, and more on the way

Quick Summary

  • A showing of "Elemental: Reimagine Wildifre" and a lively panel discussion capped the Institute of the Environment’s 2022-2023 Seminar Series. Planning for the 2023-2024 seminar series is underway!

The showing of a critically acclaimed documentary examining our relationship with wildfire and a lively discussion about how the West should move forward in the face of mounting climate challenges capped the UC Davis Institute of the Environment’s 2022-2023 Seminar Series May 31.

The Institute of the Environment, Environmental and Climate Justice Hub, Climate Adaptation Research Center, and Manetti Shrem Museum partnered to host the screening of “Elemental: Reimagine Wildfire” and subsequent panel discussion.

“Elemental” follows the devastating impacts of wind-driven embers from the 2018 Camp Fire on Paradise, California, and includes perspectives from Oregon, California, and Colorado, which have each recently experienced their worst wildfires in recorded history. The film includes perspectives on forest management research, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, the importance of cultural burning, and what planners and homeowners can do to help prevent homes from burning in a wildfire.

Following the screening of the film, audience members were invited to take part in a question-and-answer session with Trip Jennings, the film's director; Ralph Bloemers, the film’s producer; Elizabeth Azzuz, Yurok Tribe member and treasurer of the Cultural Fire Management Council; and Rick O'Rourke, Yurok Tribe member and cultural fire practitioner. The spirited discussion included questions surrounding the role of power companies and regulators in destructive wildfires, the desire for additional representation in the film and industries surrounding wildfire, the responsibilities of homeowners living in wildfire-prone areas, and the importance of science communication in shaping land management.

“This film is the beginning of a conversation,” Jennings said, noting the breadth of issues involving wildfire that deserve attention. Bloemers expressed the filmmakers’ desire to provide information to homeowners about what they can do in the face of drought- and wind-driven fires while not being overwhelmed by the scale of the climate problem.

Suppressing all fire is counterproductive and firefighters cannot be everywhere at once to put out flames that threaten structures. Hardening homes to decrease their susceptibility to wildfire is among the multifaceted answers needed to help ease the destruction being caused by wildfires in the West.

“We need to really rethink how we look at these things,” Bloemers said.

Community involvement is critical in caring for the environment, Azzuz added, emphasizing the need for developing relationships and involving as many people as possible in that stewardship, especially when it comes to managing the land for wildfire.

“It takes an army of people to do what we do, and we have to train them continuously,” Azzuz said.

Staying flexible and maintaining a focus on the goals of wildfire mitigation and sustainability have also been keys to success, O’Rourke added.

“There’s no one way to get it done,” O’Rourke said. “You have to be dynamic.”

The film continues to screen across North America and will be available for streaming June 13. For more information visit

The movie screening and Q&A marked the culmination of the Institute of the Environment’s 2022-2023 Seminar Series, which included hundreds of attendees engaging with experts on everything from whiplash climate change to the future of the Klamath River after the largest dam removal in history to the priorities for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Institute events focus on critical environmental and climate topics and aim to bring fascinating speakers to engage with the UC Davis community.

We're busy planning the 2023-2024 Institute of the Environment Seminar Series, which is expected to include events focused on the energy transition, the latest in carbon sequestration, wildfire management, and more. Additional information will be posted on the Institute’s website as details are available. Stay tuned!


Adam Jensen is the strategic communications manager for the Institute of the Environment.