How do you fit the biggest environmental film festival in the country into a town with a grand total of two movie theaters? Get creative, and reach out to groups you may not have otherwise thought to do so.
Such was the case for this past weekend’s Wild and Scenic Film Festival, taking place in tiny but lively Nevada City, California, population a bit shy of 3000. From an Odd Fellows hall (you know, those mysterious buildings that say I.O.O.F. on them?) to a solar powered Masonic hall , plus a Vets hall, an elementary school, and a former mining equipment manufacturing plant gone cultural center thrown in for good measure.
The focus of this festival was not what one might expect when you hear the words environmental film festival. Rather then a roster full of what’s wrong, they had films all from all over the spectrum, with the overall theme of this year being “Turning the tide.” As in seeking solutions, giving hope, rather then focusing on what’s not working.
Being just one person, I couldn’t tell you about all the films shown, 120 in all, ranging from 90 minutes to 30 seconds. But I can tell you that Ralph Bronner, son of Dr. Bronner, is one of the most amazing, generous people I’ve seen in a long time. He appeared in person, in addition to the screening of the documentary Dr. Bronner’s Amazing Soapbox
My favorite of the festival was the Greening of Southie. We were fortunate to see a pre release version of this film, which does something that other green themed films have not had the courage to do: Take a hard look at what can sometimes go wrong in this new green dream that’s happening these days.
The film follows the development of the first building to seek LEED certification, located in the most improbable of locations: South Boston, the most working class, Irish Catholic, firmly old school of all parts of Boston. You get to watch, as the workers, most of which have never worked on a green building project, let alone know what that even means, start opening up to it, and really finding a lot of pride in being a part of it, and directly seeing the benefits of this sort of construction. To their own health, and the health of the planet.
I personally found it touching to see people far outside the green bubble really getting it, and getting behind it.
But problems do arise in the actual construction, and it shows that this movement is not without it’s growing pains (literally, in some cases here) I highly recommend it.
I also recommend you try and attend next year’s festival, as it presents films for every level of interest, and age as well (Saturday morning had entire section of cartoons!) It includes several activities outside the films, including free workshops in film making, environmental activism, and for those wanting a more direct experience of things positively environmental, a wine stroll. Topping it off this year was a concert by Aphrodesia, a 12 piece afro funk band, that just so happens to have a biodiesel tour bus.
See you next year! Or check their site for the touring highlights version of this festival, happening all year, up until the next full festival.
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. His overarching talent is “bottom lining” complex ideas, in a way that is understandable and accessible to a variety of audiences, internal and external to a company.