Bidder 70

BIDDER 70 is Tim DeChristopher, the student who monkey-wrenched the 2008 fraudulent Bureau of Land Management Oil and Gas Lease Auction. Bidding $1.8 million to save 22,000 acres of pristine Utah wilderness surrounding Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, with no intention to pay or drill, Tim brought the BLM auction to an abrupt halt. A month later, Barack Obama became president and on February 4, 2009, new Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, invalidated the entire BLM Auction.

Nevertheless, DeChristopher was indicted on two federal felonies facing penalties of up to ten years in prison and $750,000 in fines. During the two years awaiting his trial, DeChristopher stepped up his activism, evolved into a climate justice leader, and waited through nine trial postponements until, on February 28, 2011 his trial began. BIDDER 70 is Tim's journey from economics student to incarcerated felon.

Amonst those featured are Bill McKibben, James Hansen, Robert Redford, John Schuchardt, David Harris, Larry Gibson, Terry Tempest Williams, and members of Salt Lake City's Peaceful Uprising.

'It's easy to feel helpless in the face of corporate power and the growing environmental crisis. It's easy to feel despair. Bidder 70 is about what's possible when we stop being afraid, and start acting on our conscience; a smart, candid look at one man's story that speaks volumes about what's at stake for all of us.' Will Potter, independent journalist, author of Green Is the New Red: An Insider's Account of a Social Movement Under Siege

'Bidder 70 highlights one of the most important contemporary examples of environmental civil disobedience...In following Tim DeChristopher's development from a student to one of the most charismatic and dedicated leaders of the climate movement, this documentary not only discusses the importance of addressing climate change, but the value of civil disobedience in bringing about social change. This is a powerful film that will inspire students to question their commitment to the world and to fight against global injustices.' Sean Parson, Associate Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Northern Arizona University

'Tim DeChristopher's courage is a clarion call for citizens to face up to the dangers of climate change and to take seriously the provocative questions Bidder 70 raises about the necessity of civil disobedience in twenty-first century America.' Charles R. DiSalvo, Professor of Law, West Virginia University, Author, M.K. Gandhi, Attorney at Law: The Man Before the Mahatma

'Is Tim DeChristopher an unrepentant folk hero?...Was he prepared to pay the consequences, even if it meant going to prison? Viewers can choose for themselves what they might have done in this intriguing story of civil disobedience that questions public lands policy and industry control over a key federal agency.' Dr. Jacqueline Vaughn, Professor of Political Science, Northern Arizona University, Author, Conflicts in Natural Resources

'BIDDER 70 depicts the highs and lows of activism. We see more than just the story of DeChristopher--we see how he plays a part in a vast social network of environmental activists. With its focus on tactical innovation in environmental social movements, as well as its depiction of the frustration of working through the government and legal system, this film would work well in college courses on social movements, environmental sociology, political science, and criminology. I look forward to using it in my Environmental Social Movements class!' Dr. Elizabeth Cherry, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Manhattanville College

'Tim DeChristopher is known as an economics student who went to jail because he disrupted a controversial federal oil lease auction. This movie allows DeChristopher to tell the rest of the story. Bidder 70 shows how DeChristopher's concerns about climate change, preserving southern Utah's iconic wilderness, and corporate involvement in democratic governance sparked a broader debate about civil disobedience in the twenty-first century.' John Copeland Nagle, Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame, Author, Law's Environment: How the Law Shapes the Places We Live

'Bidder 70 tells a uniquely American story...DeChristopher's ability to move with intellectual seriousness and a light heart between festivals and courtrooms complicates the popular idea of The Man and what his brand of power can achieve.' Diana Clarke, The Village Voice

'Highly inspirational....Without the slightest tinge of manipulation, Bidder 70 convinces us that these people really do care about the fate of humankind and that we're entrapped in a legal system that is, environmentally speaking, still set on driving us off a cliff.' Kalvin Henely, Slant Magazine

'The DeChristopher case really speaks to a newer phenomenon: the attempt to elevate economic interests over freedom of speech, wherein a growing number of right-wing lawyers and judges are interpreting (or reinterpreting) laws to privilege corporations over individuals, and elevate business efficiencies over the messy, time-wasting distractions of full public debate.' Mark Jenkins, NPR

'Nails the way that a spontaneous act of courage can focus the mind and clarify an ideology...We hear not the legal machinery humming inexorably in the background but the mental gears of an activist clicking into place.' Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times

'An engrossing, thoughtful film. It operates on many levels - including the revelation of the tarnished hypocrisy of justice under the Obama administration - but always returns to DeChristopher's earnest commitment to act with courage and conviction, regardless of the legal consequences.' Mark Karlin, Truthout

'Bidder 70 reveals how conscience, consciousness and peaceful civil disobedience remain powerful weapons in the arsenal of dissent...Beth and George Gage have created a well-crafted, inspiring documentary full of fighting spirit.' Ed Rampell, Earth Island Journal

'[Tim DeChristopher] was one of the most courageous and principled civil disobedience activists in recent American history...The film is not only valuable for telling Tim's story but that of the movement in Utah as well. You hear from dedicated activists and see how they organize their creative and compelling protests.' Louis Proyect, The Unrepentant Marxist

'This story of DeChristopher's act and personal experience of civil disobedience, of the support this act galvanized and of the powers arrayed against him is a must for every library collection - public, school, academic, and especially law school libraries and every U.S. Attorney's office.' Elaine Harger, Washington Middle School, Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association

'A well-made and affecting documentary...A beautifully told story of a hero's journey filled with passion and sacrifice that tugs at the head and heart to the final scene.' Deb Lake, Executive Director, Traverse City Film Festival

'A popular appeal befitting the newly energized movement DeChristopher helped create...Bidder 70 is ultimately about people power and one of the many forms it can take. By the film's end, DeChristopher's audacious direct action seems not only heroic, but also accessible, possible, and perhaps one of the few real ways forward.' Samantha Herndon, Yes! Magazine

'Inspiring...Directors Beth and George Gage brilliantly tell the story of climate activist Tim DeChristopher...DeChristopher's actions and sacrifices draw attention to the lack of an American energy policy that eliminates subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and creates a path toward a renewable energy future.' Stefanie Penn Spear, Huffington Post

'A gripping personal story that reveals just how bizarre and twisted our justice system can be...A straight up and compelling story. The film has no gimmickry. It doesn't need it. The story is that good, and the filmmakers have understood and presented all of the elements necessary to make its message personal and affecting. This must-see film will give you a better understanding of the environmental movement, and will change the way you think.' Jennifer Merin,

'Topped my list for the most inspiring film.' Stephanie Penn Spears, EcoWatch

'Powerful, intelligent and very entertaining, BIDDER 70 will show you how one person can change the world.' Frank Marshall, Kennedy-Marshall Company

'A film everyone needs to see, even if you think you're well-informed about political issues, environmentalism, and global climate change.' Ashland Independent Film Festival

'This thoughtful doc vividly illustrates the personal consequences of daring to take on the government...It's hard not to be amazed by the sheer waste of effort and expense incurred by the lengthy legal battle, which is vividly conveyed by the clearly impassioned filmmakers. By the time you've finished watching Bidder 70, you'll be left both angered and hopeful.' Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

'A touching look at a man willing to do anything to give a voice to the voiceless masses...[The filmmakers] paint a portrait of a man who truly wants to do better by this world, if not for himself, for generations to come.' Joshua Brunsting, Criterion Cast

'DeChristopher and a new generation are ready to break the rules in innovative ways...A thought-provoking documentary about the growing field of eco-activism, this is highly recommended.' Video Librarian


Main credits

Gage, Beth (Producer)
Gage, Beth (Director)
Gage, Beth (Screenwriter)
Gage, George (Producer)
Gage, George (Director)

Other credits

Edited by Ryan Suffern; director of photography, George Gage; original music, Paul Pilot.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

American Studies
Citizenship and Civics
Civil Disobedience
Climate Change/Global Warming
Environmental Ethics
Environmental Justice
Human Rights
Political Science
Social Justice


Tim DeChristopher, civil disobedience, climate change, monkey-wrenching, BLM, BLM Oil and Gas Lease Auction, Utah wilderness, wildlands, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Ken Salazar, felony, plea bargaining, prison, climate justice, Bill McKibben, James Hansen, Robert Redford, John Schuchardt, David Harris, Larry Gibson, Terry Tempest Williams, Peaceful Uprising,; Patrick Shea, Moab, Salt Lake City, Terry Root, Brett Tolman, Judge Dee Benson, Ghandhi, West Virginia, mountaintop removal mining, Daryl Hannah, Power Shift, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros; "Bidder 70"; Bullfrog Films