Getting wild and scenic through film
For three years, the Summit Land Conservancy has hosted the Wild & Scenic Film Festival.
This year’s film festival will be held Thursday, March 29, at the Jim Santy Auditorium and on Friday, March 30, at the Swaner EcoCenter.
"The programs for both venues is the same," said Megan Fernandez of the Summit Land Conservancy. "We wanted to give Basin and Eastern Summit County residents a more convenient location. That’s why we’re partnering with Swaner EcoCenter."
The festival will feature 14 films from all around the world, Fernandez said. The films range in length from one minute to 30 minutes. (See accompanying story titled "Wild & Scenic Film Festival films" for the schedule)
"We have a film about a solar cooperative in Germany and another about solar water bottles in the Philippines that are used for light bulbs," she said. "We have a great film about the Colorado River where a National Geographic photographer attempts to follow the river from source to the sea. The film is about what he discovers on the way."
Another film documents a community that prevented hydraulic fracturing or fracking, in one of their favorite local parks, Fernandez said.
Fracking is natural-gas mining method where millions of gallons of water, sand and other chemicals are injected into the ground and the high pressure fractures the shale and opens fissures where natural gas can be extracted more freely.
"We have films about how global warming affects rising tides and how that, in turn, affects island populations, and we have films about dam removal," she said. "One chronicles the Glines Canyon dam, the biggest dam in the United States that sits on the Elwah River in Washington state."
Other film topics include using goats instead of pesticides to remove invasive weeds in areas and using nature as a model to provide sustainable solutions for businesses.
"We’re also highlighting two films about the Brower Youth Awards that focuses on two young people who are making an environmental difference in the world," Fernandez said. "The Brower Youth Awards provide grants to students to help with environmental projects. If any high school student is involved in a project here, they can apply for the grant and have a film made about them. These films can give other high-school students ideas about what they can do to help."
The Wild & Scenic Film Festival, which was established in by the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) in California 10 years ago, Fernandez said.
The SYRCL shares the conservancy’s ideology regarding environmentalism and education, she said.
"(We) work with local landowners to preserve the remaining agricultural land, viewsheds, animal habitats and open space in Park City and Summit County," she said. "The festival itself was something the SYRCL did to help communities spread the word about how people could make a difference in the environment.
"They were successful in preventing the building of dams on the South Yuba River, and to celebrate, they developed the film festival," she said. "Their intent is to inspire people to become activists."
When the Summit Land Conservancy heard about the festival, both organizations decided to work together.
"The film festival is our way to advocate for wildlife, open space and our sense of place, which includes our agricultural roots and the lifestyle that we all enjoy here," Fernandez said. "The reason the tourism industry exists and thrives in this area is because of the open space and our recreational opportunities."
The films for the Park City screenings were all previously viewed and chosen by Fernandez.
"The Wild & Scenic Film Festival holds a three-day event held in California at the beginning of the year," she said. "Out of all the films they have, they choose the ones that they feel are good to show around the country and provide us a list of these films.
"What I did to get ready for our local screenings was took a week during my holiday break in December and watched all the movies, which was great," she said. "The Summit Land Conservancy is allowed up to three hours worth of film, and we chose films for a program that fit in just under two hours. It was hard to narrow the selections down for our event, but we did it."
In addition to inspiring the public to find ways to help preserve the environment, the event is being used as a membership drive for the conservancy.
"It’s not a fundraiser," Fernandez said. "We are hoping people who see the films are inspired to join us in what we do."
Fernandez said the conservancy is important because it is the only land trust that focuses solely on this area.
"There are other land trusts in the state, but they focus on all parts of Utah," she explained.
One of the conservancy’s recent projects raised $1 million for the campaign to preserve the 120 acres of the Osguthorpe Round Valley Ranch.
"As a thank you to all those who helped, we’ve chosen to lower the ticket prices for the Park City screening from $30 to $15," she said.
The Wild & Scenic Film Festival screenings in Park City also helps other local organizations and nonprofits.
"During the screenings at the Santy auditorium, the Park City Film Series will have their concessions, so we’re partnering with them," Fernandez said. "Also, Park City Green will be there with a table and their information and Jans Mountain Outfitters will provide the door prizes.
"Summit County Beef is attending the Swaner EcoCenter screenings to promote their organization and sell beef soup," she said. "We also invited various people from the community like Insa Riepen from Recycle Utah to attend and to give out information about their projects."
The Wild & Scenic Film Festival is one of the highlights of Fernandez’s jobs.
"A lot of times people hear so much gloom and doom about global warming and the environment in the news," she said. "Yes, things are serious, but sometimes people feel a bit helpless.
"The film festival showcases ways where people can make a difference and show that there is hope in saving the environment," she said. "It’s so uplifting."
The Summit Land Conservancy will present Wild & Scenic Film Festival screenings Thursday, March 29 at the Jim Santy Auditorium in the Park City Library and Education Center, 1255 Park Ave., and Friday, March 30 at the the Swaner EcoCenter, 1258 Center Dr., Kimball Junction. The screenings, which start at 7 p.m., are open to all ages. Admission is $15. For more information, visit http://www.summitlandconservancy.org/wild-scenic-film-festival/
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