BACK FROM THE BRINK tells the uplifting and unusual tale of the Franciscan Manzanita—a plant that had been extinct in the wild for 70 years, until a passing commuter spotted it growing on a small freeway traffic island, at the northern edge of San Francisco.This half-hour documentary film chronicles a year in this small shrub’s extraordinary life, starting with its unlikely discovery in the middle of a billion-dollar freeway expansion project, just weeks away from breaking ground.

The film follows the fascinating, hilarious, and even poignant ballet of human efforts to save this plant—its removal from a busy midnight highway and transplantation to a compatible and secret location; the development of techniques to coax plant cuttings to root; and the endeavors of many to establish a whole new population of Franciscan Manzanitas in the native landscape where it once flourished for thousands of years.