Wild & Scenic Film Festival comes to Avon, bringing environmental shorts | VailDaily.com

Wild & Scenic Film Festival comes to Avon, bringing environmental shorts

Melanie Wong
A scene from "California: Paradise Burning"
Special to the Daily |

If you go ...

What: Wild & Scenic Film Festival on Tour.

Where: Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, 126 Riverfront Lane, Avon.

When: Friday, Sept. 4, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Cost: $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

More information: Visit http://www.walkingmountains.org/wild, or purchase tickets at a local Patagonia store.

What does a snail’s world look like? Why are fireflies disappearing? In the midst of drought and blazes, how will California farmers and ranchers survive? What will our forests look like after the pine-beetle infestation is over?

These may not have been questions most people have ever asked, but they’re topics that several environmental filmmakers have dedicated their time to, and they’ll be showing their acclaimed films to Eagle County audiences on Friday at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival on Tour.

The home festival takes place in Nevada City, California, and is now in its 13th year. Each year, the festival then goes on tour to more than 150 communities around the world, and for the first time, Avon is among the host locations. The films that will be featured in Avon are all shorts, ranging from 2 to 27 minutes. They tackle topics from as domestic as composting to a subject as far reaching as how the earth would view its relationship with humans.

“My thought was to share a large variety of films in a shorter amount of time. I’ve been to some festivals that feature full documentary and hear people comment that they’re kind of long. Plus, this way we can fit in more films,” said Melissa Kirr, sustainability programs director at Walking Mountains Science Center, which is organizing the event.

The shorts range from light-hearted to serious and were chosen to be both entertaining and educational and appeal to a wide variety of ages. (There will be plenty for school-aged kids to enjoy, as well.)

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“Our theme is to talk about climate change as a natural, teachable moment,” Kirr said. “They take you on adventures and also talk about climate-change indicators. The second set of films we’ll be showing is really talking more about the actions that people are taking around the world in reaction to climate change.”

‘Beyond the Bark’

The event features two sets of films, as well as a presentation by guest speaker Morgan Heim, a Colorado filmmaker and photographer whose short film “Our Future Forests: Beyond Bark Beetles” explores the life cycle of the pine beetle. “Beyond Bark Beetles” is part of a 10-part film series about the bark-beetle outbreak in the forests of the western United States. Heim will discuss a topic that has been less talked about — what our forests will look like after the pine-beetle outbreak is over.

“I’m going to talk about the perception I had of the bark beetle when I moved to Colorado and saw this happening. What surprised me about a project like this is learning what is really happening out there,” Heim said. “I’m actually excited to be moving forward. A lot of these forests will come back as a new and healthier forest. They might be different from before we came into the equation, but it’ll be really cool to see what the mountains will look like 20 years from now.”

Heim comes from a unique background, having studied zoology and environmental journalism. She employs unconventional techniques to tell her stories, including still photography, multimedia techniques and animation. In one segment, she used carved pine beetles made of beetle-kill wood to create an animated sequence.

“One part took eight hours to produce two seconds of film!” she said. “However, it was really fun because it made me stretch my creative muscles a lot more and play like a kid.”

More to come

The festival will feature a special brew from Eagle’s Bonfire Brewing, and Kleen Kanteen water bottles will be sold, as well.

Three local Patagonia stores are event sponsors and will be hosting a Wear in the World Has Your Patagonia Been Contest. Bring your most worn Patagonia gear and the best story that goes along with it to the festival, and the best story and most worn piece of gear or clothing will win Patagonia Black Hole duffel bags.

If you’re going to miss the festival, don’t fret, as there are more opportunities to discover thought-provoking and educational environmental films. Walking Mountains also hosts the Sustainable Community Film Festival, with free monthly films shown November through May at Loaded Joe’s in Avon and The Dusty Boot in Eagle. Visit http://www.walkingmountains.org for more information.

Assistant Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and mwong@vaildaily.com. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.

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