Nevada City’s Wild & Scenic Film Fest a cinematic call to action
Sunday marked the last day of this year’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival, but the scene was far from winding down mid-afternoon. Parking was in short supply in downtown Nevada City as attendees scrambled to make the last film sessions at the half-dozen venues, and a steady stream of attendees strolled in and out of the festival’s headquarters on Broad Street to buy tickets, peruse art or watch live interviews being conducted in full view of passersby.
“There’s really nothing like this,” said Elisa Parker of See Jane Do, who was hosting the Wild & Scenic Media Lounge.
Parker pointed to the unique character of festival films like “Go Ganges!,” which showcase natural beauty of areas few can experience in real life, and “life-changing” films such as “Chasing Ice”; the four-day event is produced by the South Yuba River Citizens League.
The festival “brings together filmmakers, artists, activists and every-day people looking for a way to be inspired … or even just entertained,” she said. “I think this is one of my favorite festivals of all time.”
Down the street and around the corner, Ginger Ninjas lead singer Kipchoge Spencer kept a large crowd mesmerized during an impassioned poem being performed with an amplification system powered solely by four bicycles. As he ended his piece, singer David Walker stepped up and asked for four more biking volunteers to keep the sound on, and audience members happily complied.
At the Miners Foundry, awards were presented for a handful of the more than 100 films that were screened during the festival with a theme this year of “A Climate of Change.”
Roger Hicks, one of the founders of SYRCL, presented the Spirit of Activism award to “Bidder 70” filmmakers Beth and George Gage. The film followed the civil disobedience actions of Tim DeChristopher, who was indicted by the federal government for fraudulently bidding during a BLM auction of acreage surrounding national parks in Utah.
“It’s hard to make a documentary about an issue, about atomic reactors or fracking, that’s compelling and personal and emotional and that holds people’s attention for an hour-plus,” Hicks said.
At a screening of “Bidder 70” earlier in the day, many in the audience were crying, Hicks added.
“It’s a beautiful film, done with the intent of provoking discussion and spurring people to action,” he said. “Tim is the spirit of activism.”
George and Beth Gage were on hand to accept the award.
“I don’t know when we’ve had such an appreciative audience,” George Gage said. “I honestly felt that people were not just going to go home and forget about it in a couple of days … They’re willing to do something out of the ordinary.”
“We’re so proud of this festival,” said SYRCL Executive Director Caleb Dardick after the awards ceremony. “Everybody’s been saying this was the best (festival) ever. We continue to raise the bar, in terms of (presenting) inspiring films.”
Dardick pointed to the approximately 4,500 festival-goers and more than 600 volunteers at the festival as a perfect expression of the community that SYRCL seeks to foster as part of its mission, adding, “This is our way of bringing the community together.”
To contact Senior Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email lkellar@theunion,com or call (530) 477-4229.
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