It’s Friday night, and the Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival is in town. The lights are dimmed at Neptune Mountaineering, an outdoor shop in Boulder. Sierra Nevada beer flows, and the Colorado Mountain Club is recruiting new members from a crowd dressed in performance fabrics and shod in Chaco sandals. Nine films, ranging a mix of shorts less than 10 minutes long and two longer features, fire the imagination, whet the wanderlust, and stoke activist leanings. When the lights come up we spill into the dark parking lot, full of inspiration for the next adventure and interrupting each other as we relive the beauty, humor, and knowledge shared by the films.
Featuring more than 100 stops around the country from March to November, there’s a good chance the WSEFF will be passing through your neighborhood. (Check the schedule here.) The festival extols environmental issues, community activism, and adventure, and it’s the largest of its kind in the United States. But its grassroots beginning is bona fide: WSEFF was started in 2003 to raise resources and awareness by the South Yuba River Conservation League, a group dedicated to protecting the Yuba River and the recovery of wild salmon in California.
The program for each tour stop is selected by a local host—typically an outdoor shop or local non-profit—from 55 films shown at the premiere festival in Nevada City, California. As a result, no two tour stops are the same, and showings are tailored to connect with the local audience. This was the case in Boulder, where houses made from recycled materials in “Better Bones & Gardens” drew loud laughter and the film “Eastern Rises,” about a fly-fishing trip to Russia, drew audible expressions of awe with its stunning imagery and massive trout. (See the teaser above.) —Olivia Dwyer