If you are reading this, you are likely sitting in front of a computer.  Which will make it easy to do yourself this favor: open your calendar, scroll forward about a year, and circle the date of the next Wild and Scenic film festival.  I just spent the past few days in Nevada City, CA–and recommend that next year, you do too.

Reason number one: the town is awesome.  It’s a Hallmark-perfect (literally) former mining town in the California goldcountry that’s handled touristification with grace (still more dive-bars than scented-candle shops, burgeoning sustainable ag movement to keep it real, tons of solar), great restaurants, and easy access to the South Yuba river.  About 400 locals volunteered this year to put the festival on, and Saturday night the mayor threw a party…that began at midnight.  It’s a friendly place.

Many festivals feature filmakers–that’s the point after all–but this one also features many of the subjects.  Homegrown, for example, is a documentary about a family in Pasedena, CA, that manages to grow 6,000 pounds of produce on a fifth of an acre, and the Dervaes family showed up to answer questions about their project.  After watching a good documentary you begin to feel as if the subjects are friends, and having them in front of you gives a sense of continued intimacy.  One’s instinct is to continue the conversation you’d been having in your head when you seem them in the flesh.  ‘You are the closest thing to Amish in LA…how’s the dating scene?’…there’s probably another film to be made in covering the awkwardness that results.

The fest had films slated for (relatively) wide distribution, like The Cove and No Impact Man (and Mr. No Impact was on hand), but also fun films that are eminently worth watching but are unlikely to go bigtime.  Unlimited, for example, was clearly a labor of love and features some incredible kids talking about renewable energy–this fest provided it a venue maybe find a connection to distribute to schools.

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Finally, the festival benefits the South Yuba River Citizen’s League, a highly effective organization working to keep wild rivers wild, and bringing salmon stocks back to life.  Good times for a great cause.

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