Weekend of cultural immersion
In an environmentally conscious community such as North Lake Tahoe, oftentimes it’s nonprofit entities that create the most impact through their work, especially with younger community members.
Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships (SWEP) is a nonprofit organization responsible for enhancing environmental studies for children with programming dedicated to giving them hands-on experience to cultivate future generations of environmental stewards.
SWEP has helped in establishing science programs, outdoor field studies, and ecological restoration projects within the Truckee Unified School District.
The latest contribution to the community is the Tahoe Film Fest, a four-day celebration of thought-provoking environmental documentaries, dramatic displays, and international masterpieces.
“The film festival definitely goes along with SWEP’s mission for environmental education. And we want to bring that out more to the public and kind of promote what SWEP contributes locally to our kids here and to the environment,” said Suzanne Wilkins, festival manager of the Tahoe Film Fest.
From Thursday, Nov. 30 – Sunday, Dec. 3 three locations will offer film showings all day long, spanning several categories.
“We have 30 films in the festival and six short films. All of the short films are environmental. These are really good films, a lot of research went into choosing them and it’s not easy to get some of the films we’re showing. So, I think that the variety is impactful, especially on those covering important environmental topics,” said Robert Roussel, director of the Tahoe Film Fest.
The Incline Village Cinema, Northstar Village Cinema and Truckee High School Auditorium are the three host locations of the film screenings.
Each location will display works categorized as environmental, international including Latino and French selections, and special screenings.
“It’s unfortunate that we can’t repeat the films, but that’s pretty much what a festival entails; so you’ve got to study the film write-ups on our website and decide which ones as the audience you’d really like to see,” Roussel said.
Tahoe Film Fest offers detailed descriptions of each of the works, as well as a schedule of which locations offer films, and at what times.
Wilkins added that guests have access to unlimited screenings with the purchase of a weekend pass.
“It’s a tough one actually, there are so many great films but you can’t see them all. The best way would be to purchase the all-access pass for $100 and that gives you access to all the films at all the locations, and is the cheapest way to see as many films as you can,” she said.
The area has never had a festival quite like this, and its tie to environmental education among area schools makes the community’s attendance even more impactful.
“I think it’s an educational opportunity, maybe not for little children, but definitely for middle school and teenage children and their parents. They can see these films together and talk about the importance of the environmental issues we’re facing and better understand what’s in the news,” Roussel said.
Though it’s nearly impossible to recommend certain films over the others, Roussel did say that Mexican film “The Night Guard” was exceedingly popular, winning best film at the LA Film Festival.
He said that the French sidebar films are also a lot of fun, especially for locals.
“I think the audience in Tahoe is sophisticated and I thought the French sidebar would be interesting — “Faces Places” made a lot of headlines last month when it premiered because Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lawrence showed up at the premier,” he added.
For a family friendly offering, he recommended “The Gold Rush”, a Charlie Chaplin film from 1925, which he described as one of the most important silent films ever made.
“When I was in film school, it was one of the required films and it’s a lovely little film and it was kind of based, well, Charlie Chaplin got the idea for it, by reading about the Donner Party. So that’s a family friendly film and I think that it’s a classic silent film — one of the best silent films of all time, and a tribute to Truckee,” Roussel said.
Another film on the roster is a documentary that hasn’t been released yet, about the creators of Curious George and their escape from the Nazi party to the United States, where they created the beloved story.
In spirit of the film showing, SWEP will highlight partners who’ve made their work possible through a fun event on Saturday night, “The SWEPPYs”.
Beginning at 7p.m. at Marg’s Taco Bistro in Truckee, SWEP will honor those who’ve helped make science exploration programming available to local youths and welcome the community to join in on the celebration.
“The people who live here care very much about the environment and just by the beauty you see all around Lake Tahoe, it’s evident to see that people care up here,” Roussel said.
Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at email@example.com, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass