Wild and Scenic Film Festival returns to Breckenridge | SummitDaily.com

Wild and Scenic Film Festival returns to Breckenridge

by Jessica Smith
One of two longer anchor films at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, "Backyard" covers the issue of fracking in the U.S. by interviewing five people from four different states, including Colorado.
Backyard / Special to the Daily |

If You Go

What: Wild and Scenic Film Festival

When: Jan. 17. Doors open at 6 p.m. Films start at 7 p.m.

Where: Riverwalk Center, 150 W. Adams Ave., Breckenridge

Cost: Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Kids 12 and under are free. To purchase advance tickets visit www.highcountryconservation.org, call (970) 668-5703, or stop by the Patagonia Store in Breckenridge, Breck Sports on Main Street, or the Breckenridge Welcome Center.

More information: To learn more about the Wild and Scenic film festival, visit www.wildandscenicfilmfestival.org

In preparation for this year’s Wild and Scenic Film Festival, a panel of six people representing the High Country Conservation Center (HC3) and the Continental Divide Land Trust (CDLT) sat down to watch more than 50 films with an environmental and outdoor focus. From that list, they plucked nine titles to showcase on the screen at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge this Saturday.

“We really vetted these films,” said Leigh Girvin, executive director of the CDLT. “These films were chosen for our mission and our audiences.”

Selecting just a few out of so many was a difficult but enjoyable process, she added, with everyone discussing and lobbying for their favorites.

“That’s the great thing about this film festival — it really appeals to a wide demographic,” she said, with a balance between serious and light-hearted fare.

“This isn’t intended to beat climate skeptics over the head by any stretch. It’s a very gentle message in so many ways.”

Proceeds from the ticket sales benefit HC3 and CDLT, both local nonprofit organizations that focus on the environment and conservation. This is the third year of the festival in Breckenridge, and the second year the two groups have come together to host it.

“It is a fundraiser for both organizations, but it’s really a mission-based event for us,” said Jennifer Schenk, executive director for HC3. “The thing that’s so amazing about the event is that it’s locals and visitors and people of all ages who watch the films and then they’re discussing them at intermission or as they’re walking out the door, and so it’s really empowering to hear people discuss how they’re going to get involved in these issues.”


Themes of water and climate change run throughout several of the chosen films — focuses important to both hosting organizations.

The festival features two anchor films, each about 30 minutes long, acting as bookends to a series of shorter films in the five-minute range.

The longer film “Backyard” tackles the issue of fracking, a term for hydraulic fracturing, a drilling method using high-pressure fluid to release natural gas from shale. It presents interviews with five people from four different states, including Colorado, on how fracking has impacted them.

“We purposefully chose to end the first half … with ‘Backyard,’ so that when people are going to intermission and walking up the aisles and going to get a beer, they are going to be thinking about this movie and they are going to be talking about it,” said Girvin.

“Snows of the Nile” is the second anchor film, and takes viewers into the mysterious Rwenzori mountain range on the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“It’s a strange thing to visit a beautiful place that you know will disappear,” says the voiceover in the film trailer. The film follows a group of explorers into the mountains, which host some of the very few equatorial glaciers in the world, in an attempt to re-trace the steps of a 1906 expedition. They seek to recreate photographs taken by the 1906 group to document how the area has changed since.

“This isn’t intended to beat climate skeptics over the head by any stretch. It’s a very gentle message in so many ways,” said Girvin. “I think even some skeptics will learn something, and at the most everyone’s going to be entertained.”

The shorter films cover a variety of topics, from sustainable farming in the Amazonian rainforest (“Reynaldo”) to the excitement and inspiration of outdoor sports (“The Joy of Air”).

“I’m always amazed at what someone can do with a film that’s under five minutes,” said Schenk. “They just really leave you thinking.”


“The Wild and Scenic film festival aims to inspire and ignite solutions,” said Girvin. In addition to enjoying the films on an aesthetic level, she and the other organizers hope that the audience will be touched in ways that motivate them to get involved with the issues.

“First of all, we want them to be amazed and awed by our natural world,” she said. “The theme of the festival is ‘wild and scenic’ and so we wanted to follow through with that and have physically beautiful films and highlight the wildness on our planet, but we also hope that if there’s a particular issue that someone sees in one of the movies that really resonates with them, that they will be inspired to take action.”


While the films start at 7 p.m., the doors open at 6 p.m. and Schenk recommended getting there early to pick a seat, maybe buy a drink and chat with other filmgoers.

“It’s a very social event before the film starts,” she said. “It’s definitely a who’s who of everybody of the community who’s involved in the environmental movement in some way.”

“(These are) films that we thought would really resonate with our Summit County audience,” said Girvin. “I think folks are really going to enjoy it.”

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