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Wild & Scenic Film Festival returns to Tucson at the Loft Cinema

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Tucsonans don't need a big spark to light their fire for civic activity, but the Wild and Scenic Film Festival hopes to do just that by unfurling short nature documentaries to ignite your passion for eco-activism.

Hosted by the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection and presented at the Loft Cinema on Wednesday, August 19, the festival is all about celebrating the planet and highlighting environmental concerns. "In today's busy world, it is easy to disconnect from our role in the global ecosystem," says festival tour manager Jenna Brager. "When we realize that the change we need in this world begins with us, we start making a difference."

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival began in 2003, an offshoot of the South Yuba River Citizens League in Northern California. Each year since, the festival has screened award-winning environmental short films at its home base of Nevada City, California before taking the show on the road. Powered by 13 years of growth, the tour now makes 140 stops a year in more than 35 states.

"We love hosting Wild & Scenic every year," says Loft program director Jeff Yanc. "It's a great community event that benefits an important cause, and it also gives us the opportunity to showcase some great short films. It's a definite win-win on all levels."

Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection executive director Carolyn Campbell believes previous films have made an impression, and sees more of the same this year. "This event will inspire the people of Tucson to go out and make a difference in the community. We have a series of motivating and entertaining films to bring strong and impactful messages to our community."

About the Films

There is a misconception that because short films don't have the Hollywood system backing them, the movies are amateur efforts that lack production quality. That's just dead wrong. Certainly, the advancements in digital cinematography has democratized short film production, giving rise to more filmmakers and more opportunities. Often, shorts deliver more clarity and a sense of authorship than big budget features because studios don't swallow them up. And with projects like these, short films also have a tremendous amount of passion poured into them.

The shorts featured at Wild & Scenic run anywhere from four minutes to half an hour. There are nine films in all and with the intermission, the program should run almost exactly two hours. Here are some of the featured presentations:

"Delta Dawn" takes you down the Colorado River during a historic "pulse flow," when the gates of the Morelos Dam outside Yuma were lifted to bring some relief to the parched river delta. The pulse flow allowed the Colorado to reach the ocean for the first time in two decades, and a filmmaking crew took to canoes and paddleboards for the occasion, while also raising awareness about the need for water conservation.

"Common Ground" introduces ranchers, artists and conservationists pushing to not only keep the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex in Montana's Rocky Mountain Front protected under a new bill they've created, but also add more acreage to that area—almost 300,000 acres total. However, banding together to save the area winds up pitting the needs and wants of neighbors against each other.

"Nobody's River" is the longest of the films in the festival at 31 minutes. Another waterborne effort, it chronicles the journey of four women paddling down one of the world's last free flowing rivers of the world, through Mongolia, northern China and remote southeastern parts of Russia.

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival returns to the Loft Cinema, Wednesday, Aug. 19. Tickets are available at the door for $10, or in advance for $8 at sonorandesert.org, Summit Hut, Antigone Books, Tucson Audubon Nature Shop and the Loft Cinema.

More by Bob Grimm

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