From ‘canyoneering’ in British Columbia to surfing on a remote, Arctic island, restoring Iraq’s Mesopotamian Marshes and examining the dangers of 'fracking,' the Julian Wild & Scenic Film Festival represents a wide variety of international films that celebrate nature, the environment and people who are making a difference. The third annual festival, presented by the Volcan Mountain Foundation, will be held May 16-17 in the quaint San Diego County mountain town of Julian. The festival is part of a 115-city nationwide tour that showcases award-winning films about nature, community activism, adventure, conservation, water, energy and climate change, wildlife, environmental justice, agriculture, and Native American and indigenous cultures. These films combine stellar filmmaking, beautiful cinematography and first-rate storytelling to inform, inspire and ignite solutions and possibilities to restore the earth and human communities while creating a positive future. This year’s film festival selections will not only take audiences to some of the most remote and beautiful places on the planet, but introduce them to the magnificent animals that inhabit these places and the courageous individuals who are working to protect and preserve both for future generations.
One of the films being shown during the festival is Down the Line by Canadian filmmaker Francois-Xavier De Ruydts. This film features a group of dedicated Vancouverites who are pioneering a new outdoor sport called canyoneering in deep waterfall canyons in British Columbia.
“One of the motivations behind this film was to make people aware of these places and the sport,” De Ruydts said. “Canyoneering did not exist in Vancouver two years ago and a film was a wonderful way to start building a new community. I am really trying to push people out into the wild with my work. I want them to want to go canyoneering when they leave the theater.”
De Ruydts said the Julian Wild & Scenic Film Festival is a necessary platform for independent filmmakers to share their talents and their passions for nature and the environment.
“Festivals like Wild & Scenic are critical to independent film makers because it is a window to the world,” he said. “It allows us to put our work out there, and be seen and be heard. It is also a wonderful way to communicate on environment issues and inspire people to act.”
Attendees are invited to kick off the Film Festival on Friday night in Wynola at Jeremy's on the Hill with a special “farm-to-table” event featuring food from local organic farms. Hors d'oeuvres by celebrity Chef Jeremy Manley (who also started Julian's farm-to-school lunch program), plus a no host bar will be available throughout the evening. The event will feature a short film on the farm-to-table movement, and a talk by Tricia Elisara, who started Julian Elementary School’s garden, on the positive effects of kids eating food they have grown and harvested. Some of the filmmakers will also be on hand during the soirée.
Saturday’s 24 stellar films will begin at 10am and continue throughout the day in four 90-minute sessions with a 90 minute break for lunch. The festival will also include Q&A sessions with some of the filmmakers, as well as a roundtable discussion with filmmakers and environmental leaders, and a talk by Mimi Hughes, author of the book “Wider Than a Mile,” which chronicles her historic 1,770-mile swim down the Danube River as a quest to invoke change around the globe.
Festival goers who decide to stay in Julian for the weekend can also join Volcan Mountain Foundation’s guided wildflower hike on Sunday. Julian, a historic gold rush mountain town an hour from San Diego, is the perfect setting for this kind of film festival, said co-director Terry Ross.
“Julian is prominently known in San Diego and beyond for its delicious apple pie. We hope to make more people aware of Julian's cultural events, natural beauty and conservation efforts,” Ross said. “Many film festivals take place in remote mountain towns like Telluride and Sundance and these festivals have brought recognition to the communities. Nevada City, the birthplace of the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, is similar to Julian – It’s an historical mining town an hour away from the large metropolitan city of Sacramento. In the last 10 years, the Film Festival, which now boasts about 4,000 attendees, has changed the climate of Nevada City. We want to do the same for Julian – bring people here to see beyond the apple pie, to explore the history of our town, hike the beautiful trails, and taste our wines and beers while attending top-notch events.”
“With its beautiful mountain scenery and rural charm, Julian is the perfect place to experience what these films address – enjoying and preserving our natural environment for generations to come,” she added.
Proceeds from the Julian Wild & Scenic Film Festival benefit the Volcan Mountain Foundation, whose mission is to conserve and acquire land and practice respectful stewardship through education, public outreach, and resource management, to preserve Volcan Mountain for future generations.
For more information, a complete list of films and descriptions, and to purchase tickets, please visit http://www.julianfilmfestival.com, and check out the promo video below.