11th annual Wild & Scenic film fest opens Thursday | TheUnion.com

11th annual Wild & Scenic film fest opens Thursday

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

While the particular focus of this year’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival is climate change, the climate of the festival itself has changed in its more than a decade in Nevada City.

“It has had exponential growth,” said Shana Maziarz, creative director of the film festival.

“In our first year, we had 23 films at one venue,” Maziarz said. “Each year it has picked up.”

The 11th annual film festival features more than 100 filmmakers showcasing their work during 46 film sessions at eight venues.

Last year, around 4,500 tickets were sold at the event that draws top filmmakers,
celebrities, leading activists, social innovators and well known world adventurers.

“It has grown in terms of its importance, too,” Maziarz said. “It has become a bigger deal to premiere a film at our festival.”

But even as the event grows, it is still a local affair put on by 600 local volunteers, Maziarz said.

“Nevada City is going to be packed with people full of amazing energy, but you are still going to know people walking down the street,” Maziarz said.

Those visitors and residents will have a plethora of new activities to attend at this year’s festival, which will offer 16 free panel discussions and presentations.

“We’re doing a lot more workshops and presentations than we ever have before,” Maziarz said. “There is something for everyone.”

Craig Childs, a critically acclaimed writer who focuses on natural sciences, archaeology and journeys into the wilderness, will present a multimedia spoken-word performance 7 p.m. Saturday.

“We have these great minds here, and that part is the most exciting to me,” Maziarz said. “It’s an opportunity to delve deeper into these issues.”

Other highlights include river paddles, book signings, photography presentations, wine strolls, multiple music performances and eco-tours.

The festival is increasingly spilling over into Grass Valley.

This year’s first Grass Valley event is a free artists’ reception beginning at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Grass Valley’s Center for the Arts and the Grass Valley Wine Co.

“It’s nice that we are working together,” said Julia Jordan, executive director of the Grass Valley Downtown Association. “It’s really refreshing. We appreciate being included.”

Also in Grass Valley will be the 3D Film Session at the Del Oro Theatre, beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday which will showcase three environmental films.

“I am so excited about it,” Maziarz said. “To me, 3D is the perfect medium for environmental films.”

In addition to regular film showcases, Grass Valley will also host subsequent events featuring a family-friendly evening Friday and a Spanish Film Session Saturday.

“We are extremely excited to showcase not only our history at the Del Oro Theatre, but also because it is an opportunity to showcase the Grass Valley side of Nevada County,” Jordan said.

For a listing of events and film screenings, visit http://www.wildandscenicfilmfestival.org.


The festival is also of particular importance to the South Yuba River Citizen’s League, which puts on the event. SYRCL is also celebrating its 30th year since its founding.

“This is a celebration or our commitment to protecting the Yuba,” said Executive Director Caleb Dardick. “To keep a grassroots community engaged for a decade or more, it is important to come together and celebrate your wins and renew energy.”

In 1999, SYRCL successfully garnered Wild and Scenic designation for the Yuba River, insulating it from further damming and development. The festival draws its name from that victory, Dardick said.

SYRCL puts on the show as its largest fundraiser, which produces about one-third of the organization’s annual funding, Dardick estimated.

With more than 4,000 people descending on its streets, the festival brings a reprieve to post-holiday business slumps in Nevada City. Most area lodging gets packed and many filmmakers stay as guests in people’s homes.

“It brings money into the region, to hotels and restaurants,” said Nevada City Mayor Duane Strawser. “It is critical.”

Although the film festival is among Nevada City’s largest events of the year, unlike most of those happenings, SYCRL’s event lasts longer than a weekend, Strawser said. “I already see people here now,” Strawser said Wednesday. “So we get five quality financial days.”

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email crosacker@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4236.

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