The 20th Annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival, South Yuba River Citizen’s League’s largest fundraiser, is taking place Jan. 13 through 17. The festival is a boon for local merchants in what is usually a very slow time of year, but most importantly, it is, as it proclaims, “where activism gets inspired.”
The Wild & Scenic Film Festival raises awareness of both local and global concerns and brings in films that will educate, inform and hopefully inspire viewers to make changes in their own circles of influence.
Festival Director Lívia Campos de Menezes is excited to be bringing the festival back in person for its 2022, after having it offered virtually in 2021.
“The festival was started to inspire people. We do believe films are a great tool to talk about issues that matter. Many times, people watch a film and not only talk about it, but act. Our mission is to inspire to act and change the world. That is what the festival is all about.”
The Brazilian-born director is new to the area but has worked in film festival circuits for five years. “I just fell in love with film festivals. I produced some short films, worked on feature films, but started volunteering at festivals and just loved the environment.” Her experience includes time at SF Film, Mill Valley, Sundance and other festivals before finding her way to the South Yuba River Citizen’s League.
“I love using film to talk about issues that matter, so when I learned about this festival, it was a great fit for me.”
The festival is not without challenges due to recent weather and power issues, as well as COVID-19. Safety protocols are in place, so festival goers need to be aware of some changes to the way they “fest.”
First, there are no passes. Single session tickets must be purchased in advance for specific sessions and venues. There is a discount for purchasing a four pack of single sessions.
Fewer tickets are available due to fewer venues at reduced capacity. Proof of vaccination is required for all in-person events.
A virtual component will be offered during the festival and extending to Jan. 23. The extended length provides plenty of time to take in over 100 environmental and adventure shorts and features as well as workshops.
Campos de Menezes said there will be some truly special films shown as well as a “Best of the Fest” session to celebrate the 20th anniversary. “We are preparing special sessions with beloved films from all these 20 years. I have been leading this project and am super excited. I have been in the archives to see everything we have screened in the past. It has been very interesting for me to learn about the festival and how it has grown over the years.”
The sessions honor the past, but this year also brings new and exciting films to the forefront. Campos de Menezes said selecting a favorite is nearly impossible, but she does offer a few “not to be missed” selections. “That’s really hard, but I do have some favorite films,” she said.
“First We Eat” by filmmaker Suzanne Crocker (who will be in attendance) will be screening Friday night. The film chronicles what happens when a family (including three teenagers) living just south of the Arctic Circle ban all grocery store food from their house for a year. Campos de Menezes said, “We are super excited to have her here. They have to produce the food or buy from local farmers. The hardest thing is they live in a very remote space and the winter is brutal. It’s a life-changing experience for them and I think for the audience, as well.” Another Crocker film, “All the Time in the World” from the 2015 festival will be included in the “Best of” series.
Another special film is called “Lady Buds,” Campos de Menezes said. “It’s about six pioneer women and how everything changed for them with the legalization (of cannabis). It’s a pretty interesting film and one that has been run at several festivals. We are excited to have them here as well.” Filmmakers will also be on sight for Q&A.
“We have a very special guest coming on Friday and Saturday, Peter Coyote,” Campos de Menezes said. From YouTube’s “Brave Wilderness” and Animal Planet’s series “Coyote Peterson: Brave the Wild,” the Emmy-award winning Peterson will be screening a new episode of his Wild Field Trip series and then offering a Q&A. “It’s a partnership with Film Justice. It’s really great and it’s family friendly.”
Saturday morning the children’s film series will take place at the Del Oro Theatre in downtown Grass Valley.
There are many beautiful films. Some to enjoy and many to inspire. Gatherings will be limited. Campos de Menezes said the opening ceremony will take place at Uba Seo Gallery on Broad Street in Nevada City and a party for filmmakers will be outdoors. There is one guided hike scheduled for Sunday.
“We are expecting a lot of people,” Campos de Menezes said. “We will still have our workshops and our coffee talks and fireside chats as usual, but people need to reserve their space. There are many beautiful films to enjoy and many to inspire.”
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at [email protected]
KNOW & GO
WHO: South Yuba River Citizen’s League (SYRCL)
WHAT: 20th Annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival
WHERE: Various venues in Grass Valley and Nevada City
WHEN: In person Jan. 13-17 and online Jan. 13-23
MORE INFO: Full schedule, tickets and more information at https://www.wildandscenicfilmfestival.org/