Summit Land Conservancy brings Wild & Scenic Film Festival to Park City
Ryan Summerlin April 18, 2014
Simply put, the Summit Land Conservancy saves open spaces.
It works with landowners to protect lands, watersheds, animal habitats and rangelands in Park City and Summit County.
To help raise funds for these efforts, the nonprofit organization hosts the Wild & Scenic Film Festival tour, which will feature screenings of 13 films that were originally screened at the annual festival in Nevada City, Calif., last January.
The South Yuba River Citizens League, a watershed advocacy group, originally started the festival in 2003. The festival is named after the group’s landmark victory of gaining the Wild & Scenic status for 39 miles of the South Yuba River in Nevada City.
The Park City screenings will be on Thursday, April 24, in the Jim Santy Auditorium of the Park City Library and Education Center.
Robyn Geist, outreach development director for the Summit Land Conservancy, said hosting the festival is a "natural extension" of what her organization does.
"It encourages people to take action on environmental issues and inspires them to become active in their communities," Geist said during an interview with The Park Record. "We have been bringing the festival to Park City for the past six years and we really feel this is a good fit for us."
The 13 films, range in length from two minutes to 27 minutes.
Barbara Bannon, who has worked with the Utah Film Center, taught film at the University of Utah and edits the Sundance Film Festival film guide, helped select the films, Geist said.
"We were looking for a more artistic feel for our program this year," Geist explained. "In addition to the films that may challenge audiences about issues and causes, we wanted to get really well-made films this year."
A friend of hers, Judy Voye, who teaches film at Salt Lake Community College, contacted Bannon.
"Judy passed this on to me and since I have an extensive background in film, especially independent film, it seemed to be a good match for helping them pick out what they were going to show," Bannon said.
Bannon wanted to pick films that were of good quality and help create a program that featured a good mix.
"I wanted to balance the festival out," she said. "I didn’t want to weigh too heavily toward one issue or aspect of conservation.
"I also wanted to look for issue-related films or overall land-conservancy films," Bannon said. "And I looked for funny films and some that would appeal to kids."
Some of the films deal with the global issue of water quality, which stemmed from the Conservancy’s Weber River Watershed Initiative, according to Geist.
"It promotes healthy systems along the Weber and strives to prevent land development along the river, which would decrease water quality downstream," she said.
"The Weber provides 21 percent of the drinking and irrigation water for the Wasatch Front. Any decrease in quality will have long-range impacts. So Barbara tried to find films that focused on water quality."
One is by Nathan Dappen and Neil Losin called "Snows of the Nile."
The film, which examines the slow disappearance of Earth’s only equatorial glaciers, found on the summits of Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains, was funded by the first Dos Equis Stay Thirsty Grant.
"Nate and I had an idea a couple of years ago for a project about tropical glaciers," said Losin, an environmental photographer and filmmaker who graduated from UCLA with a doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology. "We had heard about the recession of global ice caps because of climate change and we wanted to show a different side and show that even places in the tropics were being affected."
Their initial plan was to film in Indonesia, but that proved to be too challenging logistically and the two didn’t have the funding.
"So we started looking around and found references to the Rwenzoris, including an extensive library of high-quality photographs that were taken in 1906," Losin said.
The two decided to retrace the paths that the Duke of Abruzzi embarked on when he commissioned a photographer to take the photographs.
"Like some other explorers of the day, the Duke had a passion to bring stories of the places he explored back to Europe," Losin explained. "So the photography was important in what he was doing and it was important to what we wanted to do as visual communicators of science ourselves."
In some cases, when the filmmakers were below the snowline on the Rwenzoris, the areas looked similar to the old photos, but when they got up into the glaciers, things looked different.
"In the past 100 years, it has been estimated that 80 percent of the glaciers have disappeared," Losin said. "That’s based on aerial photos that were taken in 2006, so more has changed since then.
"If the glaciers disappear, the people who live in the area will be affected," he said. Instead of a gradual runoff that nurtures the area, the waters will gush down and flood the villages and ecosystems, Losin said.
Not all of the films in the Wild & Scenic Festival are about saving the land. Others, such as "Ryan’s Stories," which was produced by a Utah-based company called Camp 4 Collective, is about how the outdoors saves people.
"Ryan’s Stories," which was directed by Anson Fogel and produced by Aimee Tetreault, is about Ryan Hudson who escaped his childhood growing up in and out of homeless shelters and eventually became a semi-pro winter sports athlete and is a brand ambassador for The North Face.
When he was 14, Hudson was introduced to snowboarding through Outdoor Outreach, a non-profit organization that uses outdoor activities to empower at risk youth, said Tetreault.
"We do quite a bit of work for The North Face and have filmed product videos for them," she said. "The company expanded their content to other parts of the company and one of those expansions was an exploration program, which was designed to use films to motivate people to get outside.
"The stories are about people who are previously disadvantaged but found a way to use the outdoors to make a better life for themselves," Tetreault said. "Ryan is one of them."
Tetreault and Fogel reached out to Hudson, who now lives in Salt Lake City and is an avid snowboarder.
"He’s so positive and always wants to focus on the future and not so much on the past," Tetreault said. "But we did dig into the things from his past that he was comfortable telling us."
The team shot in Salt Lake and the snow sequences were shot at Snowbird.
"We as a company are lucky to have these kinds of opportunities to tell these stories," Tetreault said. "We get to work with world-class athletes all the time. It’s so inspiring to me, personally, to find someone who has more to them than just their sport."
Summit Land Conservancy will host the Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour at Jim Santy Auditorium 1255 Park Ave., on Thursday, April 24, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students. Tickets are available by visiting wesaveland.brownpapertickets.com or at the door. The festival’s title sponsor is Park City Medical Center and the Park City Film Series is also a sponsor. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/events/669891719723579/ or facebook.com/summitlandconservancy .