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Fire and Water: Elements Stirring at Southern Oregon’s Annual Siskiyou Filmfest

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Butte Fire in 2015. Photo courtesy of Kevin White

Global, environmental and critical. Words best describing the tipping point between saving the planet’s precious life sources and becoming the means to our own end. Two feature films—one concerning the escalating “mega-fires” destroying millions of acres of forests, the other commending and recognizing the people and action steps behind the passing of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968—will highlight this year’s Siskiyou Filmfest in Grants Pass on February 10.

Four years in the making, Wilder Than Wild: Fire, Forests and the Future is a one hour documentary by Emmy award winning producers and filmmakers, Kevin White and Stephen Most (From the Ground Up, A Land Between Rivers), revealing how climate change and decades of fire suppression are igniting a grim future and possible methods to allay further damage.

If you enjoy a river, you’ll appreciate Run Wild Run Free, a film by water conservationist group, Pacific Rivers, and member/filmmaker Shane Anderson. In 1968, while much of the nation was in strife over the Vietnam and Cold wars, civil rights and a multitude of social reforms, a small group of like-minded people took notice of the last of the remaining free-flowing rivers and foresaw the need to protect them while dam building in the U.S. was at an all-time high. at a time when dams were being developed by the thousands, and accomplished the passing of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

“I think an environmentally active community is not just at the film festival; it’s a southern Oregon tradition,” says Allee Gustafson, Siskiyou Filmfest Organizer. “This event gathers the community to help bring our planet into the future. Really, it’s a call to action to protect the places that we live in and love.”

Now in its 17th year, the Siskiyou Filmfest has become a noted venue for environmental organizations to gather and inform the general public. A Community Showcase before, during and after the festival allows filmgoers to learn from various groups like the Land Conservancy, Pachamama Alliance and even Pacific Power’s Blue Sky Renewable about the various ways the public can get involved.  

This year’s event will include the short documentaries Great Old Broads for Wolves, about the reintroduction of gray wolves to western Colorado, Dry Roast, a film of the women coffee growers in Guatemala who are fighting to keep their plantations, Sacred Strides, which navigates a group of tribes putting aside their differences to send a message of unity by running 800 miles to Bears Ears National Monument, a public land sacred to many Native Americans and under threat of reduction and exploitation and Dignity at a Monumental Scale, which follows a Navaho Nation physician who posts giant-sized photographs of the people for whom he works, on buildings and merchants’ stands, so they may see themselves “as monumental”.

Since the festival’s inception in 2002 a Youth Video Contest has been included, inviting all schools to participate with films made by their students.

“This festival is very family oriented,” shares Gustafson. “The youth are really our hope for the future and the kids who come and watch the youth video, or sit with their families and watch all the films and see how it’s done, could hopefully get inspired to become activists as they get older.”

The festival includes a silent auction with a chance to win a rafting trip, finger foods available by Chef Kristen and the Jefferson Farm Kitchen using locally sourced ingredients and two live performances; an Eco-Rap Poem and music by local musician, Amber Sun Feather.

Producers from the feature Wilder Than Wild will make a guest appearance for a short Q&A after the film.

Siskiyou Filmfest
3 pm, Sunday, February 10
Grants Pass High Performing Arts Center, 830 NE 9th Street, Grants Pass
$10 – $20

 

 

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