By Jai Bashir, Office of Sustainability
Film can be used as a persuasive medium to invite members of our community to share in the wonders of our planet, and out of solidarity, change behaviors. On Nov. 14, join the University of Utah Environmental & Sustainability Studies program for the 2nd Annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival, which showcases documentaries that are entertaining, thought-provoking and exciting visual representations of our natural and wild spaces and how we connect with them. The event is from 6-9 p.m. in the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. Tickets can be purchased for $10 online at Brown Paper Tickets, in person in OSH Room 152, or at the door the day of the event.
One of the most exciting films at this year’s festival is “The Gimp Monkeys,” which speaks to the power and endurance of the human spirit and the call of the wild. The film follows Craig DeMartino, Pete Davis, and Jarem Fryes, three individuals with disabilities, and their one-of-a-kind ascension of Yosemite’s famed El Capitan. Between the three of them they have four legs, five arms, and three heads and loads of gusto and courage. The film follows their journey as climbers, as survivors, and as people defying the odds.
Another provoking film with rich cinematography and visuals is “Seeds of Freedom.” Narrated by Jeremy Irons, the film follows the story of the seed from heritage seeds used for thousands of years in the heart of agriculture to the contemporary issues that see financially driven corporations taking seeds away from the hands of local farmers worldwide. Through interviews with international farmers and experts, the film examines how the loss of indigenous seeds is leading to overall loss of biodiversity.
Many of the festival’s films are short in order to cover a range of issues. The University of Utah festival is composed of 11 films that vary in length from about 5 minutes to 30 minutes. The variety of running times enables the festival to convey the range of topics found within the umbrella term of environmentalism. Among the shorter films, “The Arctic Garden” and “Home to Turkana” provide an intimate portrayal of how modern technologies negatively impact indigenous communities. “Public Lands, Private Profits: Boom or Bust” is a poignant reminder of the ongoing fight between energy exploration and preservation. Part two of the film highlights threats to Utah’s beloved Bryce Canyon National Park.
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The Wild & Scenic Film Festival began in 2003 as a grassroots effort by the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL, pronounced “circle”). SYRCL, a watershed advocacy group, created the film festival as way to “inspire activism through film” and tell the successes of environmental groups. The films portray the splendor, vitality, and excitement in being human and making positive change. The topics covered include adventure, food and agriculture, social justice, activism, and conservation. In many cases, the festival is the only opportunity to see the films in a theater format.
This year’s University of Utah film festival opens at 6 p.m. with snacks from Spice Bistro, a local and authentic Indian restaurant. Films will begin at 7 p.m. The evening will also include raffle prizes from local businesses and vendors, including: Salt Lake City Bike Collective, Pago, Golden Braid Books, Black Diamond, Finca, Wasatch Community Gardens, and Chapul, and national sponsors such as Clif Bar & Company, Patagonia, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Mother Jones, and AJA Video Systems. Each entrance ticket includes one raffle ticket. Proceeds from the Wild & Scenic Film Festival will go to a scholarship pool for students enrolled in Environmental & Sustainability Studies to support study abroad ventures and academic achievement. The department, which is growing quickly, provides the leaders of tomorrow with tools to lead change that will ensure a more sustainable and socially just planet. Support the department by attending the festival or donating online.
Jai Bashir is a senior in Environmental & Sustainability Studies and Gender Studies. She is a sustainability ambassador for the Office of Sustainability.