Photographer Carlton Ward and a team of biologists, ranchers, conservationists, and Indigenous Peoples find themselves on the front lines of an accelerating battle between forces of renewal and destruction that have pushed the Everglades to the brink of ecological collapse. Path of the Panther is the culmination of more than five years in the field, 500,000 still images, and over 800 hours of ultra-high-definition camera trap footage of an animal on the verge of extinction. Against all odds, wild panthers have been stunningly captured in their native ecosystem, as they’ve never been filmed before.

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Tell us about yourself and your film ERIC BENDICK:  It’s a feature documentary, the story of a quest in the Everglades to film and photograph the Florida panther. This film took about six years to make, and that’s because we didn’t know we were making a feature film at the start of it. We just knew we were on an exploratory mission to find this elusive animal and see what would happen next. It’s been a heck of a journey getting here. What did you learn over SIX years? BENDICK: One of the most incredible things about the journey of really following the panther, and learning from this animal about the landscape, and what hope remains not only for this animal but for us who live here in Florida, and for other parts of the world that are affected by the same really complicated issues of suburban sprawl and development, and toll roads, and commerce, you wonder, is there any hope left for a large carnivore like the panther to freely range throughout the world? What we found was, there’s actually a lot of hope that this animal can show us what remains. It can show us how those pieces may fit together, and if we do our part to conserve those lands, we can actually connect what amounts to a wildlife corridor, which could one day spread not just through Florida, but through the whole country. We think in Florida we have a blueprint for hope, not just here locally, but something that could go spread all across the world. The goal of this project and the reason that it was attractive to people to be partners with us was that we were going to create impact, and we’re going to open people’s eyes to the opportunity here in Florida to maybe change some hearts and minds about what old, wild Florida is capable of. If you miss this round here in Sarasota, I think watching it on Disney Plus in a month will also be amazing. This is a film that all Floridians really should see. Put it on your list.