Home»Screen»Leave it to Beavers, Boarders and Surfers: Siskiyou FilmFest Celebrates 18 Years of Activism

Leave it to Beavers, Boarders and Surfers: Siskiyou FilmFest Celebrates 18 Years of Activism

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The Beaver Believer

From its rivers and forests to practices of conservationism and environmental protection, Oregon is well-noted as being green. In honoring this distinction, the 18th annual Siskiyou Film Festival will bring together filmmakers and the community who “love where they live and protect what they love.”

“It’s our slogan,” says festival organizer, Allee Gustafson. “The festival brings in around 400 attendees, and folks who don’t know what being an activist is really about can feel inspired once they see all of us together for a common purpose.”

Filmmakers using their medium to document nature or promote awareness about environmental issues have found an outlet through events like the Siskiyou FilmFest. Produced by Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center (KS Wild), the collaboration over the years of business sponsors, eco-friendly organizations and attendees has grown into a family of passionate preservationists.

“Activism really starts with the purchase of a ticket and all the funds go directly into helping us keep our conservation mission going,” says Gustafson. “I would like to have each attendee walking away feeling as though they’re a part of something bigger than themselves.”

Two hour-long films are featured including the award-winning The Beaver Believer, which takes viewers into the world of these water-whacking, bucktoothed master-builders to show why they are dire to helping the planet’s watersheds during global warming. The playful and earnest documentary reveals the beaver’s inherent ability to nourish and preserve its diverse water and land ecosystems and methods to help restore them to North American waterways. It’s followed by a short Q&A with local biologists.

Radical takes on a whole new meaning for four outdoor sports athletes when they enter the world of protesting by filming those at the frontlines of preserving the natural resources they utilize. The film The Radicals by Beyond Boarding is an exposé of their journey through the Pacific Northwest filming Native American tribes defending their rights and the land, celebrating through their rituals and expressing their lives through their art.

“I especially like this film because it appeals to younger generations,” explains Gustafson. “These snowboarders and surfers sort of drifted into the line of activism and filmed the efforts by indigenous communities to stand up to big companies that threaten their livelihoods.”

A special tribute to Agnes Baker Pilgrim (Grandma Aggie) will accompany The Radicals. Eldest of the Federated Tribe of Siletz and co-founder of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, Grandma Aggie passed away in November 2019, leaving her legacy of reigniting tribal traditions, speaking out for the Earth and advocating for Native American rights.

Each year the festival hosts numerous groups and businesses in their Community Showcase. Visitors can stroll through booths set up by organizations like Pacific Power’s Blue Sky Program, Pollinator Project and the Land Conservancy to learn about their programs.

Jefferson Farm Kitchen will provide locally-sourced, organic foods by Chef Kristen (Lyon) who says she’s honored to be a part of the program for a fifth year.

“It’s been such a great way to reach into the community and get people engaged,” shares Lyon. 

Donations from local businesses like Rogue Creamery and Rise Up! Artisan Breads take it up a notch on her menu of street foods and snacks like savory hand pies, grilled shish kabobs and salad kabobs, cheese skewers, cookies and house-made granola and kombucha. Two food-serving stations are planned at both exits of the auditorium and prices range from $8 – $13 for a dinner meal. 

A variety of short films, including the Youth Video Contest Winner, will accompany the two features. A silent raffle will offer an all-inclusive opportunity for ticket purchasers to win prizes. Pre-ordering tickets is strongly encouraged. Doors open at 2 pm, films start at 3 pm. 

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

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