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Lake Mead Park Service wins prestigious film award

The recently renovated Alan Bible Visitors Center at Lake Mead National Recreation Area has another reason to shine besides the new lighting fixtures and walkway.

The National Park Service was selected to receive the Spring 2013 CINE Golden Eagle Award for its new production, “Life in the Desert: Lake Mead National Recreation Area,” now showing at the visitors center.

The 20-minute film explores what Lake Mead National Recreation Area has to offer visitors through the eyes of daily users of the park’s trails, water and voyeurs of the desert landscape. It also revealed personal feelings of spirituality toward the park through the eyes of an American Indian, Felton Bricker.

“It offers a very good view of Lake Mead National Recreation Area from three different perspectives — the issues of the water, the visitors, the natural and cultural resources,” Jennifer Haley, chief of visitors service and education, said. “It also shares the meaning of the park.”

The film can be seen Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The center is closed Monday and Tuesday.

The Council on International Nontheatrical Events, which gives the award, began in the 1950s as a springboard for film producers wanting their work to be seen internationally. Through a jury system, the council would choose films to be viewed at international film festivals.

The need for CINE, and other third parties, to submit work for viewing at international film festivals has died, but several high-profile directors of today have received a CINE award at the beginning of their careers, including Mel Brooks, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard and Spike Lee.

The production, “Life in the Desert: Lake Mead National Recreation Area,” was directed and produced by veteran park service employee Chuck Dunkerly, who has been in his position for more than a decade.

“I’m really pleased that people saw the merit that was put into the production,” Dunkerly said.

This is not the first time Dunkerly’s work has been recognized by CINE. In 2009, he received a CINE Golden Eagle Award for his work “Land of Dreams: Homesteading America.” One year later, Dunkerly received another award for his work on “World War II Valor in the Pacific Webisodes.”

Dunkerly also won a Gold Screen Award in 2013 from the National Association of Government Communicators for his work on “America’s Wilderness.” His work also has earned several other awards including merit awards from the International Wildlife Film Festival, the Muse award from the American Museum Association and media awards from the National Association for Interpretation.

Dunkerly may be an acclaimed director but his work is not initially inspired by creative vision.

“I don’t get to pick where my next project will be,” Dunkerly said. “Lake Mead National Recreation Area needed a film and we made them one.”

Once Dunkerly is on a project, he said his creative mind does take over.

“Let the place speak for itself, and it will tell the story,” Dunkerly said. “It will show you all that it is and all that is isn’t.”

Dunkerly had a high opinion of Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

“It kept showing me a compelling and beautiful place,” Dunkerly said.

But he wanted to capture all it had to offer.

“When we look at the Lake Mead, that’s what we think of, but there is 1.5 million acres of wilderness,” Dunkerly said.

Haley also thinks Lake Mead National Recreation Areas has more to offer than just the lake.

“It’s a very complex place and we get over 6 million visitors a year,” Haley said. “It has a lot of back country experience where you can be all alone in nature.”

If visitors need help finding what they might enjoy at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the park service offers guided tours in the cooler months.

“The tours begin in the fall because it’s too hot in the summer,” Haley said.

Dunkerly is only at the beginning of his career with the park service.

“There is still a lot of good work to be done here,” Dunkerly said.

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