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Local color, short shorts at Festival

Chuck Jaffee
Special to The Union
Music in the Mountains Young Composers raft down the Yuba River as part of the “The Prelude for the Yuba Salmon,” an inventive, interdisciplinary collaborative that of music, composing and environmental stewardship, between MIM and Sierra Streams Institute. The project is featured in a documentary "River Music," which will be screened at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival Jan. 15 - 18.
Submitted photo |

Local Color Times 7

Although the Wild & Scenic Film Festival is a nationally renowned event, indeed internationally renowned, it’s nice seeing a bunch of local color projects amongst the 100-plus films.

This does more than showcase some of the expressive and active folks that share the region with the South Yuba River Citizens League. (SYRCL is putting on the festival for the 13th time.)

Local color film production sustains some of the down home feel that remains characteristic of a professionally implemented festival presenting a range of styles and issues. (Numbers in parentheses indicate film lengths.)

“Elevate Tahoe: Food Innovations at 6000 Feet” (25): At 6,000 feet, mind you, this is a good exposure to homegrown community efforts to garden, educate, and feed the infrastructure year round. It includes a locally minded, organic commercial farm only 50 miles away.

“Living Wild” (4): Quoting Gary Snyder, “Nature is not a place to visit; it’s home.” Because Alicia Funk lives by and educates according to this tenet, we discover things like manzanita, oak nuts, and fir tips are native food sources that can redirect conversation and practice away from a mono-crop mentality that reeks too much water, fertilizer, and mega-processing.

“River Music” (29): Local color abounds, care of teens in the Young Composers Project channeled through a year of collaborative learning with adults from Sierra Streams Institute (science) and Music in the Mountains (art). Scenes of the Yuba River’s vitality flow with sounds of original compositions.

“Singletrack High” (39): With a refreshing tone of accessibility and an important offshoot flavor of sporting adventure, this community and youth oriented film highlights teens from Marin, South Sacramento, and Roseville. The nicely counterintuitive poster child for the NorCal High School Cycling League is a Nevada City teen exceeding his goal of not finishing last in his races.

“Trail Stewards of the Lost Sierra” (25): A program leader admits to creating, maintaining, and promoting trail activity (especially mountain biking) in the Downieville area so he can sustain local family life and his proclaimed “tribe” of citizens. It’s a promotional sort of video but engaging in its recreational, participatory, self-reliant, and invitational way.

“Water for Gold” (36): Gold mining sorely affected the area around North San Juan some years ago – especially the water. This is a fairly professional example of “We’ve got a problem hereabouts, and we’re going make a film to document the issue and raise awareness.”

“Yuba River Wolverine” (5): Set out a bunch of cameras and wait for a modest parade of Yuba Watershed creatures to amble into view. The star, a wolverine, has not been seen in the region for 80 or 90 years. It’s a nice and appreciative “ooh, look at that.”

Short Shorts Times 10

Many of the more than 100 films at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival are shorts. Many of those shorts, such as the ones singled out below, fit their cinematic offering into fewer than 10 minutes. (Lengths listed in parentheses.) Short films enrich the festival mix, spicing up the range of creativity and awareness-raising. To find show times Jan. 15 through 18, go to wildandscenicfilmfestival.org.

“14.c” (8): Black rock climbers, you don’t typically see. This respectfully obsessed 14 year old and his so supportive mom leave race way behind his mastery of 14.c rated climbs, nearly the toughest there is.

“The Big Pick” (6): There’s nothing special about this tiny little cove.

There’s nothing special about this beach except more than 500,000 pieces of plastic that 25 volunteers picked up.

“I Heard” (3): Two little kids walk through nature in a Dr. Seuss-toned narration that covers cute, informative, and much to appreciate.

“A Line in the Sand” (2): A gruff voice, atop popping stark animation, recites the activist wisdom of Edward Abbey (1927-89) including “God bless America; let’s save some of it.”

“Monarchs & Milkweed” (7): A Yosemite ranger leads a “micro-safari,” close, slow-mo, beautiful, and informative. It emphasizes the milkweed plant – no milkweed, no monarch butterflies.

“Pamela – A New Voice for the Environment” (4): Why highlight an asthmatic, shy, chubby, immigrant Latino, ghetto, teenage girl? Strive to be half the prepared, articulate, activist advocate she is.

“Pride of Namibia” (6): Constitutional commitment and community stewardship guides an impressive wildlife recovery story in a country with a name that translates to “land where there is nothing.”

“Requiem for Ice” (7): Glacial ice speaks. In a soothing voice melting from its inward depths, glacial ice shares its poetry in words and cinematic light.

“Why I Think the World Should End” (4): Its hip litany reverberates with a simple creativity, a sharp contemporary poetic voice and an end you should try living.

“The World beyond the World” (3): A voice of husky appreciation, amidst the protected expanse of Alaska’s Brooks Range, recites the wilderness wonder of Robert Marshall (1901-39).

Chuck Jaffee of Grass Valley likes to plug people into the spirit of independent filmmakers. Find his other articles for The Union at http://www.startlets.com.

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