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Sundial: This 'Python Huntress' loves the snakes she has to kill

python on island on me_DonnaKalil.jpg
Courtesy of Donna Kalil
Donna Kalil, a Python Elimination Specialist with the South Florida Water Management District, is at the center of the documentary "Python Huntress" being featured in this year's Miami Film Festival.

Donna Kalil loves snakes — but she also has to kill them.

That’s the life of a python hunter. Kalil grew up in South Florida, loving all kinds of snakes and reptiles. She’d get lost for hours in the natural beauty of the Everglades.

She thinks the snakes are beautiful — but they’re a threat to the ecosystem. And so, she hunts them. Yanks them out of the delicate ecosystem one at a time.

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It's a sisyphean task. There always seems to be a new snake to replace a dead one. That doesn’t stop her.

And that’s why filmmaker Matt Deblinger thought she’d make a great subject for his new film, Python Huntress. It’s a short documentary playing during the Miami Film Festival this weekend.

Deblinger is no snake lover. But that didn’t stop him from grabbing his gear and following Kalil into the marsh. He’s there with her when she stares down a python in the tall grass and snatches them with snake-like reflexes. It’s quite a thing to watch.

On Sundial's March 2 episode, Kalil and Deblinger join us to talk about their new film and the ins and outs of removing pythons from the everglades in a humane way.

On Sundial's previous episode, filmmaker Jose Navas talked about his new film, Awake Before Dawn, set at the Opa-locka Hialeah Flea Market and premiered at the Miami Film Festival. Plus, Nicole Perry, a certified intimacy director, joined to tell us about the behind-the-scenes of making steamy scenes feel safe for actors.

Listen to Sundial Monday through Thursday on WLRN, 91.3 FM, live at 1 p.m., rebroadcast at 8 p.m. Missed a show? Find every episode of Sundial on your favorite podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify.

Stay in touch with us via text by joining our Sundial text club. Send us your thoughts, ideas or questions by texting the word “join” to 786-677-0767. You can also email us at sundial@wlrnnews.org.

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Carlos Frías is the host of WLRN's Sundial. He is a bilingual writer, a journalist of more than 25 years and the author of an award-winning memoir published by Simon & Schuster.
Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the lead producer behind WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.
Elisa Baena is an associate producer for Sundial.