Area to play host to four film fests |

Area to play host to four film fests

Voted “Best Short” at the 2013 Wild & Scenic Film Festival, “Moonwalk” will be part of an encore presentation of films Saturday at the North Columbia Schoolhouse.

Know & Go

WHO: Snowlands Network and Winter Wildlands Alliance

WHAT: Backcountry Film Festival

WHERE: Nevada Theatre, 401 Broad St., Nevada City

WHEN: Tuesday, Dec. 17. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; films start at 7 p.m.

ADMISSION: $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Advance tickets at BriarPatch Co-op and Mountain Recreation

INFO: 530-859-9168, or

Know & Go

WHO: North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center and South Yuba River Citizens League

WHAT: Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour

WHERE: North Columbia Schoolhouse, 17894 Tyler Foote Crossing Road, North San Juan

WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 14. Doors open at 6:15, films start at 7 p.m.

ADMISSION: Advance tickets: $12 at Mother Truckers and BriarPatch Co-op. At the door: $12 for SYRCL and NCSCC members, $15 general admission, $6 children (12 years and younger).

INFO: 530-265-2826, or

Just as Nevada City has become a mecca for music, theater and art, it is also developing a reputation for film festivals.

The Nevada City Film Festival kicked off the trend in 2001 with a small gathering of friends at the Magic Theatre on Argall Street in Nevada City. It has since grown into a four-day, multivenue celebration of independent, international short films and their filmmakers.

In 2003, the South Yuba River Citizens League launched its annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival, featuring the best in environmental films. It has since exploded into one of the nation’s premiere environmental film fests. The four-day extravaganza attracts world-class films, filmmakers, environmentalists, activists, adventurers and the occasional movie star.

In 2011, Nevada City’s Snowlands Network introduced a one-day minifestival at the Nevada Theatre called the Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Festival. This collection of documentaries features human-powered winter sports, challenges and adventures.

And just this week tickets went on sale for the inaugural all day Animal Film Festival, scheduled for March 1 and presented by the nonprofit Center for Animal Protection & Education.

Festival films to see this week

This week, environmental and winter sports film enthusiasts will have two opportunities to see award-winning environmental and backcountry winter films.

Saturday, SYRCL and the North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center are joining forces to present an encore of films from the January 2013 Wild & Scenic Festival.

Tuesday, the Snowlands Network will present its third annual screening of films from the Backcountry Film Festival in Boise, Idaho.

No snowmobiles allowed

The Backcountry Film festival is dedicated to promoting human-powered snow recreation (skis, snowboards, snowshoes, etc.) and to raising awareness of winter management and wildland preservation issues, according to Laurel Harkness, executive director of the nonprofit Snowlands Network.

She is hosting the screening of 10 of the best films from the ninth annual Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Festival, which was Nov. 1 in Boise.

The film program includes “Poor Man’s Heli,” a breathtaking paraglide/ski adventure, “Morning Rituals,” a day in the life of an undercover ski bum, and Best of Festival “Valhalla,” the tale of a man’s search to rediscover the freedom of his youth.

Although purists might argue it’s not technically a film festival, Harkness said they intend to create a festive atmosphere at the screening.

There will be a raffle of snow gear and equipment, concessions (including beer and wine), and information tables by the Nordic Skiers of Nevada County and others.

“It brings everybody out,” Harkness said. “The socialness of it is fantastic, and it appeals to all ages. She added the proceeds from the event will support a merit-badge snow-camping trip for Boy Scout Troop 24 of Nevada City.

Wild & Scenic comes home

For the first time ever, the 2013 Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour will visit the San Juan Ridge, the birthplace of SYRCL, said Jeff Adams, executive director of the North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center.

Wild & Scenic On Tour is a yearly package SYRCL sends “on the road.” It usually features films that best reflect the theme of that year’s festival. The 2013 theme was “Climate of Change.”

Caleb Dardick will emcee the evening, which will feature visually stunning, educational films that address “the stark reality of climate change” and how people are rising to meet the challenge at local levels.

A series of shorter films will be arranged around one feature film, “Not Yet Begun to Fight.” One of the short films is “Moonwalk,” which was voted 2013 Best Short.

The doors open at 6:15 p.m. so people can socialize and “enjoy organic popcorn, drinks and desserts” – and buy raffle tickets for various prizes including an all-weekend pass to the 2014 Wild & Scenic Film Festival, Adams said.

Coming up in 2014

The theme of the 2014 SYRCL Wild & Scenic Film Festival is “emPOWERment.” This is not just a film festival, it’s “a call to action,” according to SYRCL organizers.

This year’s festival runs from Jan. 9, to Jan. 12, 2014. Tickets are on sale now online at, at the Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce, or at the SYRCL Office (from 1-5 p.m.) Monday through Friday.

The inaugural Animal Film Festival will feature a morning sessino geared toward children and an afternoon/evening session highlighting films for a general audience. More than 50 films from around the world have been submitted for consideration to the festival. Twenty films have been accepted into the festival and submissions are still arriving, according to a statement about the event from CAPE.

Tickets are $5 for the Movies for Children morning session. Tickets for the General Audiences session from 2 p.m. to closing are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for students. CAPE organizers said they would like to make the film festival an annual event. It will be hosted at the Center for the Arts in Grass Valley.

To purchase tickets and to learn about the films, visit http://animalfilm

The Nevada City Film Fest returns Sept. 4-7, 2014.

Tom Durkin is a freelance writer and photographer in Nevada City. He can be contacted at

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