Five Favorites from the 2014 Wild & Scenic Film Festival

Orion’s managing director, Madeline Cantwell, has returned from a short trip to Nevada City, California, where she represented Orion at this year’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival. Go here to see a few more highlights from the event paired with classic writing from Orion.

Of the many great films screened at the festival, I was able to see about forty, and I want to share five discoveries that I think Orion readers in particular will appreciate. Click here to see if Wild & Scenic is coming on tour near you, and check out these and many other great feats of environmental filmmaking.

Bringing It Home: How can we move beyond tobacco fields, empower farmers, and create healthier construction, clothing, and food while also addressing climate change, labor, and water issues? As this film argues, the production of industrial hemp, which has a rich historical legacy, could be an answer to many of today’s health and environment issues.

Compost-a-lujah: Master composter Linda Olson breaks down the science and soul of compost in this how-to film that will inspire you to think about dirt in a whole new way. And it’s got a totally fabulous soundtrack.

North of the Sun: A nine-month survival test in an uninhabited bay in northern Norway—or the best surfing in the world? Inge Wegge and Jorn Ranum document their arctic adventure in this beautiful film. But it’s not just another surfing adventure film—these two young men have a deep and tender relationship with each other and with the remote beach where they spend the winter.

Uranium Drive-In: This film follows two communities at odds over the proposal of a uranium mill in southwest Colorado and the resulting conflicts over jobs, health, and the environment. It’s easy to assume that the “other side” of the nuclear issue, whichever side you’re on, is just wrong. But this film challenges the viewer to think empathically, and it requires activists on both sides to really face each other.

Xmas Without China: Your house is full of goods made in China, and you’re probably aware of that fact, if not its extent. A young Chinese-American filmmaker challenges an American family to celebrate Christmas with no gifts, decorations, or household items made in China, and both parties discover many challenges—both financial and cultural.

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival is a great resource; be sure to check out their 2014 tour dates and locations to see if the festival is coming to a community near you, or to invite the tour to your town.