Wild and Crazy Nature

Recently, in an effort to try to be a little more involved in the tight knit local community, I've joined a few Schuylkill (skook-kill) County internet groups. So far it hasn't yielded much...the occasional sad yet true headline ("Divers sent in to rescue flood victims. 3 wanted to be rescued. 2 did not."), bittersweet classifieds ("Looking for home: fatally ill dog abandoned at local cemetary.") and a constant barrage of car show events is pretty much all they have had to offer. So, when I saw the words "film" & "festival" come up on the local calendar of events I was a little too excited!

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival is an organization based in California that cultivates films about the environment, nature and geographical issues with a socially moving conscience. A feature film about a  man's journey to the ends of the earth to a short claymation piece  with polar bears in melting igloos wondering if your furnace is too hot (brought to you by Creature Comforts!!! YAY! ), are good examples of the range of films screened, each piece focusing on the importance of nature and ecology. The fest features a traveling component too where different organizations can sponsor a screening in their own town. The nearby Schuylkill Headwaters group, mostly dedicated to preserving our anthracite region's waterways and helping to solve water problems surrounding abandoned mining operations, sponsored a short film screening of the Wild & Scenic kind in the very nearby city of Pottsville in the quaint little Majestic Theater (a place usually reserved for Raymond the Amish Comic! Not kidding!).

The sweet, chilly brick theater had a small crowd and tons of other things to offer besides the tiny heroic films (my favorites of which being delicious beer, the freshest of cupcakes and a giant map pointing out all of the local farmer stands/markets)! The series of films screened were quietly touching, making environmental standpoints but not in terms that are too dramatic, sensational or overreaching, a great feel given the fact that audiences and issues can vary so so much from place to place. The opening short, Witness, was really, really great exploring the relationship between nature photography and conservation efforts. It told a stunning tale of how simple images can create National Parks, spur governments into action and drastically change our relationship with nature. It had some magnificent pictures in it too and, as artists, it really spoke to me about the morality of images and the duty of people creating them.

There was also a film about plastic bags that began small but ballooned into a larger statement about our social responsibility to nature, nicely leading along with jokes and vintage dawn-of-the-disposable-60s film clips, that I think will really impact the way a lot of people think about that disposable cup they are drinking from (it also told me about the Cradle to Cradle movement led by a German chemist who is trying to get people and industry to rethink their ideas of product life: cradle to cradle not cradle to grave. This massive problem so poignantly and simply stated! Amazing!). I truely wish more people had been at this event, it is so rare that people in our area try to do something progressive and it is kind of a bummer that there were only a handful of attendees...but, I am personally grateful to everyone who put this on giving me some faith in my community members and finding a few people out here who appreciate their wild and scenic landscape just as much as I do! Now, back to admiring the deer out the kitchen window! O, and animating....still animating...



Donna K. is a recent transplant to the Midwest where she can be found exploring culture at large through film programming, writing and her general interest in the world- both on and offline.