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Filmmaker brings it back home

In 1997, Gregg Schiffner records his well-received "Stories of the Yuba" documentary.
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For filmmaker Gregg Schiffner, his hometown crowd is the best.

Schiffner has shown his 1997 “Stories of the Yuba,” a 75-minute documentary on the South Yuba River, in the Bay Area, Sacramento, Yuba City, Sierra County, Pleasanton and Sunol.



He’s shown it publicly in Nevada County eight times or so, the last time two years ago. The documentary returns to Nevada Theatre in Nevada City Friday through Sunday.




“This movie was made for the hometown crowd,” Schiffner said. “They turn out every time. Repeat customers are the ultimate compliment to a filmmaker.”

“Stories of the Yuba” examines the history of the South Yuba and people’s relationship with the land.

It’s a tribute to a place that fostered nice memories for Schiffner, who grew up in Nevada City and spent many happy hours at the river, and a tribute to individuals and organizations that have helped preserve the river.

“It feels great to bring ‘Stories of the Yuba’ back to the big screen in my hometown and share it with the community again. I’m hearing a lot of excitement about it,” Schiffner said.

Last week, a woman called him to say it’s a “must-see for newcomers.” The caller had already seen it twice, Schiffner said, but wanted her new neighbors to see it, too, so she made six reservations for Sunday.

This weekend’s screening celebrates the release of the CD “Musicians in Praise of the River.”

Snippets of works by 26 area musicians are included on the film’s soundtrack. The CD, co-produced by Schiffner and Mikail Graham, features the songs in full.

“We structured the CD like a trip down the river,” Schiffner said. “You’re coming down the river. Every time you come around a bend, there’s another musician playing their tune.”

The CD features a wide mix of styles.

“There’s avant-garde Jay Sydeman stuff, there’s the Nevada Union Chamber Choir under the baton of Don Baggett, to Dan Scanlan on the ukulele, to country western with Dakota Sid,” Schiffner said.

After the screening, Schiffner will play the 55-minute CD accompanied with footage of the river and a photo collage of each musician.

“The CD part of the night will be like a big home movie of our place,” Schiffner said with a laugh.

“There’s Alasdair Fraser, 12 years old, standing with a trophy in Scotland, and later he’s onstage with Sean Connery decades later at the 1999 Kennedy Center Honors gala,” Schiffner said. “There’s Don Baggett on the first trip Nevada Union took overseas to Vienna around 1980, and hundreds of people came out to support them on Mill Street when they returned home.”

The movie will be preceded by live music. Robin Berkeley and Kris Skidmore will perform Friday, Kindred Spirit and some of Lisa Stine’s harp group members take the stage Saturday, and Paul Kamm and Eleanore McDonald perform Sunday.

Stine, who is also a member of Kindred Spirit, leads a year-round harp circle. Once a year, the circle sings at the river. Several members are cancer survivors.

“Greg’s a longtime friend. He’s really brought the river to the forefront here,” Stine said.

The movie screening-CD release party is a benefit for Schiffner’s nonprofit documentary, “SUARA – A Different Kind of Warrior,” which is about Grass Valley World War II pilot Fred Hargesheimer.

Know and Go

WHAT: “Stories of the Yuba” documentary and CD-release party for “Musicians in Praise of the River”

WHEN: Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m.; doors open 7 p.m.

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

ADMISSION: $15 for Friday’s gala opening (includes a copy of the CD and complimentary dessert buffet); $6 general and $5 for students and seniors on Saturday and Sunday.

INFORMATION: 265-3638


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