by Amanda Hermans
Evanston residents had the opportunity to view nature-related films during the first night of the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, sponsored by the Evanston Environmental Association (EEA), at the Evanston Ecology Center on Friday.
The event was Evanston’s fourth year participating in this nation-wide film festival tour. It originates in Nevada City, CA, where over 100 short environmental films have been shown each year for the last 13 years. Then, the rights of select films are given out to smaller venues around the country, including Evanston.
“Evanston is a really environmentally focused community,” said Rick Nelson, the president of the EEA. “There’s really an audience for this type of thing.”
He went on to say that the audience should walk away from the event educated, entertained, and inspired by these films.
The EEA board members selected 15 films to show over the course of two nights. They showed eight films last night, and will screen the other seven on Friday, Feb. 20.
The films varied in their focus. Some merely portrayed nature, such as bird calls or a snail’s unique movement. Others exposed social justice issues, including water shortages in the American southwest and the destruction of palm oil trees in Indonesia. Even with the wide range of topics, all of the films shared a common theme: a promotion of environmental consciousness.
“The films seem to be thought-provoking without being preachy,” said Evanston resident and EEA member Jean Sanders, who attended the event. “[The films’ purpose is] to generate interest and awareness.”
Despite some heavy-hitting topics, the overall tone of the event was joyful. Funny moments in some films offset the more serious tone of others.
The EEA selected the variety of films with these tones in mind. “One of our big goals for the festival is to raise environmental awareness without having it be a downer,” said Karen Taira, the EEA chairperson for the event.
The event drew about 130 people, and the Ecology center filled up so fast that some interested attendees had to be turned away at the door. According to Nelson, it was their best turnout yet.
The second half of the Wild and Scenic Film Festival will be Friday, Feb. 20 at 7 pm. Because of Friday’s popularity, Taira says that there is a “big incentive to buy tickets early,” to ensure a seat. Ticket information and the film listing can be found at the Evanston Ecology Center’s website. All proceeds fund the programming of the Evanston Ecology Center.