Tuscola couple to show new documentaries in Mattoon on Saturday

Local filmmakers Cindy and Kirby Pringle will show their two new documentary films at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Douglas-Hart Nature Center.

Kirby will show his 14-minute film, “Planet Milkweed,” at 2 p.m. Cindy’s film, “The Imperfect Caterpillar,” will be shown at about 2:20 p.m. and is 12 minutes long. The couple will answer questions about monarch butterflies and prairie plants afterward. The films are being shown as part of the Douglas-Hart Nature Center’s “Milkweeds, Monarchs and Movies!” event.

The husband and wife are also monarch butterfly conservationists who do educational events and talks about how to help increase the population of monarch butterflies and other pollinators. In addition, the Tuscola couple are professional photographers who have their artwork in several galleries in Illinois.

Cindy’s film, “The Imperfect Caterpillar” is based on a true story and revolves around a monarch butterfly caterpillar that was deformed. The documentary is aimed at children, with Augie the talking caterpillar wondering whether he will become a monarch butterfly because of his misshapen body.

“It was a fun project to work on, something very different from the other films I have worked on,” Cindy said.

Meanwhile, Kirby’s film, “Planet Milkweed,” takes a look at life on and around a milkweed plant. The common milkweed has some 450 insects that eat it, which in turn attracts birds and other wildlife.

“No other prairie plant supports more life than the common milkweed. It’s a fascinating plant and I hope that my film encourages more people to grow milkweed, as well as other native prairie flowers,” he said.

Kirby’s film was recently featured in the “Germinate International Film Festival” in Hillsboro, Ohio.

The Pringles encourage others to put back enough bits and pieces of the Tallgrass Prairie, which once covered 60 percent of Illinois. Stretches of native prairie, especially the flowers, make flyways and habitat for pollinators like bees, butterflies and moths, as well as grassland birds like the meadowlark, red-winged blackbird and dickcissel.

In addition to the films, the Pringles will some of their butterfly artwork for sale, including photographs, greeting cards, jewelry and posters.

Kirby is also hopeful that the two documentaries will get more people involved in trying to help boost the population of monarch butterflies and pollinators, which are crucial to the food supply. Nearly one-third of our food is insect pollinated and 70 percent of all plants depend on insects for their reproduction.

The Pringles’ first documentary film, “Plight of the Monarch,” was one of the first to highlight the steep population decline of the monarch butterfly. It has been shown throughout the Midwest and has more than 20,000 views on YouTube.

“Our films really encourage people to use native plants in gardens, landscaping and in agriculture. Habitat loss, the destruction of the native tallgrass prairie, is the main reason behind the steep decline of so many insects and animals,” Kirby said. “We have lost more than 90 percent of the population of the monarch butterfly over the past 20 years and unless we take action, we could lose the migrating population of the butterfly, as well as other beneficial insects, and most species of grassland birds.”

The Pringles are also in the process of booking other events to show their two films. Groups and organizations can contact them via email at pringle.photography@gmail.com or by calling them at 217-722-7552. For more information about the Pringles, go to www.dogtownart.com or www.facebook.com/roadsidesforwildlife.

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