Experience the healing power of nature in epic book-turned-film “The Dark Divide”

Strike Back Studios virtual theatrical release set for Sept. 18, starring David Cross, Debra Messing, David Koechner, and featuring music by The Avett Brothers

Aug 18, 2020

Strike Back Studios, REI Co-op Studios and the National Wildlife Federation (America’s largest wildlife conservation non-profit) are bringing Public House Films and TBVE Films’ “The Dark Divide” to audiences across the United States with a virtual theatrical release beginning Sept. 18, 2020.  Based on the beloved book “Where Bigfoot Walks: Crossing the Dark Divide,” by Robert Pyle, one of America's premiere nature writers, “The Dark Divide” tells Pyle’s incredible story and has been brought to the screen, helmed by acclaimed writer/director/producer Tom Putnam (director of the Tribeca Audience Award-winning documentary “Burn” and producer of Spirit Award-winner “Marwencol”).  

The cast includes Emmy winner and two-time Grammy nominee David Cross (“Arrested Development,” “The Post”), multiple Golden Globe nominated and Emmy winning Debra Messing (“Will & Grace,” “Searching”), Saturday Night Live alum David Koechner (the cult classic “Anchorman” films) Cameron Esposito (“Take My Wife,” Mother’s Day”), and multiple Independent Spirit Award nominee Gary Farmer (“First Cow,” “Smoke Signals”). The soundtrack features music by The Avett Brothers, Krist Novoselić (Nirvana) of Giants in the Trees, Samantha Crain, and The National Reserve.  

“The Dark Divide” is based on the true story of renowned butterfly expert Dr. Robert Pyle's (David Cross) perilous 1995 journey across one of America’s largest undeveloped wildlands. At the urging of his dying wife Thea (Debra Messing), the shy author finds himself in over his head on an epic, life-changing expedition through Washington's Gifford Pinchot National Forest in search of new species of butterflies. Over the course of his six-week adventure Pyle battles self-doubt, the grueling trail, and the people and creatures who call this forest home. And, somewhere deep in the heart of The Dark Divide, he makes a discovery that challenges everything he knows about the natural world. 

“The Dark Divide,” the first feature film from REI Co-op Studios, will be distributed nationwide beginning with a virtual theatrical release on Sept. 18 and select drive-in experiences, leading into a global VOD/Digital & Blu-Ray/DVD platform release on November 10. “The Dark Divide” will also host virtual events with various organizations surrounding the themes and talent of the movies. A portion of the film's profits will be donated to benefit National Wildlife Federation's mission to protect wildlife and wild places. Advance registration to watch the movie and RSVP to events will be available at www.darkdividefilm.com.  

In this time of COVID-19 when many people opt to stay home, audiences will experience the transformative healing power of nature from their living rooms, as they trek through one of America's oldest National Forests in the United States with David Cross. Shot in many of the locations where Pyle's story took place, the film transports viewers to an incredible landscape few have seen, and no one has filmed before.  

“We produce stories that inspire people to live an outdoor life,” said Paolo Mottola, REI Co-op Director of Content and Media. “This film depicts the adventure, self-discovery and healing that nature can provide. We’re excited to share it with REI members and audiences who are eager to reconnect in the outdoors.” 

“The Dark Divide” has deep personal roots for filmmaker Tom Putnam, who grew up in rural Oregon and spent much of his childhood hiking the trails and fishing the creeks and lakes where Pyle’s story takes place. Joining Putnam on the producing team are Aaron Boyd (“Columbus”), Ryan Frost (“Running For Grace,”) Jory Weitz (“Napoleon Dynamite”), and David Cross. The film is executive produced by Thane Ritchie (“Framing John DeLorean”). 

“Getting outdoors has been a lifeline for Americans during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Dark Divide captures the essential value of America’s great outdoors — from the solace and health benefits nature provides to the sense of wonder we all experience wherever we encounter wildlife. The National Wildlife Federation is proud to team up with this film and to encourage Americans to experience a Green Hour by getting outdoors, whether at a local park or in the rugged backcountry, to experience wildlife within reach wherever you venture.” Said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. 

“Where Bigfoot Walks: Crossing the Dark Divide” is a non-fiction book with a fascinating origin. In 1995, renowned nature writer and lepidopterist Robert Pyle received a Guggenheim Fellowship to embark on a one-month trek from Washington’s Mount Rainier to the Columbia Gorge in search of new species of butterflies. Named for John Dark, a 19th Century gold prospector, the Dark Divide is comprised of 76,000 acres of wilderness, making it one of the largest undeveloped areas in the United States. The Dark Divide is also ground zero for one of history’s most heated battles between environmentalists and big business. It’s where a rare species of spotted owl inhabits old growth forests up to 200 years old -- trees that the multi-billion-dollar logging industry would love to harvest. 

“Because of my documentary background, we were able to construct a film that used a small crew to reach locations larger films could never go to,” said the film’s director, Tom Putnam. “I hope the film ultimately lives in an interesting place between the worlds of fiction and documentary. If you see David hanging off a cliff, braving a thunderstorm, or struggling in freezing water, that’s really him. When you see lava tunnels deep underground, that’s where we shot.” 

Now is the perfect time for this film, whose core themes of transformation, recovery, personal growth, and understanding other cultures have created an incredible opportunity to contribute to the national conversation and explore solutions with a unique perspective and story. “The Dark Divide” connects viewers to the healing and transformative power of nature, creating a space for introspection and reprioritizing values and showing how to put those values into action. The film ultimately reminds us that growth is hard, but the work is worth it -- that leaves audiences with hope that something better is waiting on the other side 

Where to follow the film and its journey: 
Website: www.darkdividefilm.com 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/darkdividefilm/ 
Instagram: @darkdividefilm 
Twitter: @darkdividefilm 

About Public House Films: 

Founded in 2017 by partners Thane Ritchie, Anthony Dilweg, Aaron Boyd and Ryan Frost, Public House Films is a film finance, development and production company focused on producing and funding elevated content while navigating the shifting landscape of entertainment industry with a business-forward mentality taking advantage of emerging disruptive models and vetting out smart traditional approaches. Titles they have produced and/or provided funding for include: RUNNING FOR GRACE (Matt Dillon, Jim Caviezel), THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER (Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gael García Bernal), MADELINE'S MADELINE (Miranda July, Molly Parker), and FRAMING JOHN DELOREAN (Alec Baldwin). For more information visit www.publichousefilms.com; Facebook: @publichousefilmcompany 

About the REI Co-op

REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 19 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 167 locations in 39 states and the District of Columbia. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.com, REI Outlet or the REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. Adventurers can take the trip of a lifetime with REI’s active adventure travel company, a global leader that runs more than 250 itineraries across all continents. In every community where REI has a presence, professionally trained instructors share their expertise by hosting beginner-to advanced-level classes and workshops about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.