Inspiring environmental activism |

Inspiring environmental activism

The 16th annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival hits Nevada City and Grass Valley from Jan. 11 - 15.
Courtesy of Josh Miller |

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The 16th annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival combines stellar filmmaking, cinematography and first-rate storytelling to inform, inspire and ignite solutions to restore the earth and human communities while creating a positive future for generations to come.

Where: Nevada City and Grass Valley locations

When: Thursday, Jan. 11 – Monday, Jan. 15

Visit for more.

The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) will present the 16th annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival, the largest film festival of its kind, showing 135 films over the course of five days.

From Thursday, Jan. 11 to Monday, Jan. 15, locations in Nevada City and Grass Valley will host film showings, activist workshops, movement classes, parties and networking events in the interest of protecting the environment.

“SYRCL started in ’83 with a bunch of folks who opposed six proposed dams for the south Yuba River. We said we didn’t think they were needed, that we wanted the river to be free-flowing. The ‘wild and scenic’ status for the state was granted in ’99 so that was a big win having the 39 miles of the South Yuba River become wild and scenic; and the grassroots organization was born,” said Melinda Booth, director of the film festival and executive director of SYRCL.

The film festival is the organization’s largest fundraiser and is an inspirational and educational outlet for people to discuss issues impacting the environment.

This year’s festival theme is “Groundswell,” which is symbolic of the groundswell of movements that SYRCL and the film festival team hope to inspire among communities worldwide, activating to protect the environment for a healthy future.

“We really do prioritize making it a good time and providing a platform for people to have a good time because the work is so hard; the challenges our planet and its protectors are facing, it’s important that in addition to providing education we provide an uplifting experience,” said Jennifer Ekstrom, the Wild & Scenic Film Festival producer.

Ekstrom explained that the film selection process included close to 1,000 hours of watching films and deliberating, saying the committee makes a big effort to select films that call out a problem but also provide a path forward that is more positive.

After deliberation the committee narrowed the selection to 135 films, including 10 world premieres for approximately 7,500 people to enjoy in Nevada City and Grass Valley; and an additional 40,000 people globally with their touring program.

“What started out as a film festival has grown and grown,” Booth said.

Adding to the impressive production lineup are activist workshops, music, art and interactive opportunities with likeminded people including filmmakers and special guests.

“What makes a film fest really special is the presence of filmmakers and activists and adventurers from the films who meet with the community, then we realized they have so much to offer and put together talks to utilize their expertise, we created an activist center, coffee talks, fireside chats, plenty of opportunity for experts to talk about what they do,” Booth added.

She said the team added music and parties to the lineup because a lot of festival topics are heavy hitting and they think it’s equally important to celebrate their wins and each other working hard.

Visit the Wild & Scenic website to view a full activity schedule and read film descriptions.

Wild & Scenic Film Festival Hours & Offerings Snapshot

Thursday, Jan. 11: Opening Art Reception and 3D family friendly films from Grass Valley.

Friday, Jan. 12: Film showings begin at 7 p.m., special events include yoga, art, nature excursions, a virtual reality lounge, indoor rock climbing, and more.

Saturday, Jan. 13: Film showings begin at 9:30 a.m. Activist workshops held on climate change, diversity and the environment, and more. Special events include coffee talk, book signings, art demos, wine auction, fireside chats, and more.

Sunday, Jan. 14: Film showings begin at 9:30 a.m. in Nevada City, 10 a.m. in Grass Valley. Activist workshops include themes: agriculture, rivers as an American legacy, lessons from the Oroville Dam and more. Special events include a coffee talk, yoga, a fair, hike, awards ceremony, and more.

Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass.

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