Downieville at Wild & Scenic Film Fest 1/16/13

L to R:  Riata Hester, Brandon McDermid, Justin Anderson; Leslie Baker; Alexis Whitaker; and Savannah Burr.  These students attended the Wild and Scenic Festival in Nevada City, field trip funded by Sierra Schools Foundation grant money.

Photo by Lynn Fillo

By Marie Ellsworth
On January 10, in the cold streets of Nevada City, the annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival took place. It was a 3 day-long event presenting a variety of documentaries in venues all around Grass Valley and Nevada City. Friday night, several students, accompanied by Mrs. Fillo, went courtesy of a Sierra Schools Foundation grant. To start this event, a local band played a few songs to get everyone in the mood. The films consisted of environmental friendly documentaries that dealt with how a single person can make a big impact if one sets his or her mind to it. One film that made an impact on our students was the Festival’s main feature length film “Bidder 70”. This film followed the story of how an ordinary environmental activist, Tim DeChristopher, in 2008 protested the illegal sale of parcels of land in Utah by bidding with money he didn’t have. Though the sales to the gas and oil companies for the land was illegal, apparently bidding on them to protect the land was the bigger of the two evils. In 2011 DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in federal prison. This act of civil disobedience is shared among the greats who had enough courage to stand up to what is wrong, and can endure the consequences for hope that change will come. Civil rights activists like Martin Luther, Gandhi, and Rosa Parks all share things in common with Tim DeChristopher. This story hit a little close to home as well. One of our students interviewed Tim DeChristopher a year after he bid on the land, as part of an internship on documentaries. Other than “Bidder 70” there was another film that stuck out as good proof that nature is smarter than we give it credit for; this was is a short documentary about whales. However, “Soul Migration” was not the stereotypical “save the whales” film. This doc hit on a more emotional level when a descendant of a famous 19th century whaler visited the lagoon where his ancestor commercially slaughtered hundreds of grey whales in their native breeding grounds. The films presented were very insightful. If you missed the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, make sure to check it out next year.  And a huge “Thank You” to Sierra Schools Foundation for making possible our student attendance at the festival!

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