Wild & Scenic Film Festival to Open in Nevada City, CA

The 10th annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival, now the largest film festival of its kind, combines stellar filmmaking, breathtaking cinematography, and inspiring storytelling.  Thousands of Bay Area residents will make this year's pilgrimage to Nevada City, CA, a picturesque former gold mining town in the Sierra foothills, the weekend of January 13th to 15th to view an award-winning selection of over 117 inspiring environmental films and passionate world adventures.  The event is organized by SYRCL, a non-profit group of volunteer activists who have devoted themselves to the protection and preservation of the Yuba River, as well as other precious natural resources and sites.  The entire town goes out for this festival, and it's a truly remarkable assemblage of films and parties. 

Often called the "Environmental Sundance", The Wild & Scenic draws top filmmakers, celebrities, and social innovators who share the power of film and activism.  This year's selection includes 28 world and US film premiers among 117 films, from two-minute "shorts" to full two-hour presentations.  The award-winning films range from organic farming to wildlife, from schools in meager remote villages to scaling impossible mountains. 

It is an incredible honor for a filmmaker's efforts to be selected for this event.  One of this year's most ambitious films is Journey of the Universe directed and produced by Patsy Northcutt and David Kennard.  This lush film documents where the Earth's resources are disappearing, and what we can do about it.  

Talented filmmakers who have contributed to the past success of this festival have included filmmaker Christopher Beaver, whose Tales of the San Joaquin chronicles the tortuous path of this once-mighty California river from its headwaters in the Sierra to the Pacific Ocean.    

The Bay Institute was thrilled to receive the "Spirit of Activism" award for their local documentary A Simple Question: The Story of S.T.R.A.W. tracing the student-teacher restoration of watersheds, creeks, and rivers.

The Global Oneness Project, headed by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, travelled to Ethiopia, New York, and Kenya to produce A Thousand Suns.  The film documents how the African Rift Valley, one of the most densely populated rural regions, has been farmed sustainably for 10,000 years, and contrasts it with our view of nature here at home.

Six short films paying tribute to local heroes from Poland, Swaziland, Cuba, Cambodia, Costa Rica, and Michigan comprised “Global Focus VII: The New Environmentalists”.  Producer Will Parrinello notes “Everyday people are enormously capable of inspiring action in one’s own community.”  Co-producers John Antonelli and Tom Dusenbery added "We wanted to document how one person, with dedication and a few simple actions, made a striking change in the world."

As the environmental film genre becomes more main stream, film narrations are contributed by such luminaries as Robert Redford, Sir Patrick Stewart, Richard Gere, Peter Coyote, and Robin Wright Penn.  Some of the festival’s selections are done on a shoestring budget, yet many others have won awards at such prestigious festival venues as Sundance, Aspen, Vancouver, Sydney, Ireland, and Vancouver.  From rock climbers to health issues, from improving the quality of your backyard creek to growing an organic garden, this is the place to be.  The films include adventure, activism, animation, energy, climate, health, global perspectives, oceans, indigenous populations, wildlife, and breathtaking views of our planet.  

A weekend pass ($99 until 12/31/11) gives total access to all films showing in all the various venues around Nevada City.  For tickets, go to www.wildandscenicfilmfestival.org.  The screenings take place in a four-block area all over downtown Nevada City, with some in neighboring Grass Valley.  Wear comfortable shoes to trot back and forth.  Bring a chair cushion and reusable water bottle, as none are sold here.