Wild & Scenic

ACES executive director Chris Lane (left) introduces the 2018 Wild & Scenic Film Festival.

It might just be me, but it sure feels like we get a lot of film festivals coming through the valley these days. There are the old standbys, like Aspen Film’s Shortsfest, Filmfest and Academy Screenings. There are the homegrown favorites, like Carbondale’s 5Point Film Festival. There are film tours with home bases elsewhere that seem to have permanent spots on the calendar each year in Aspen, such as Mountainfilm, and then there are a host of one-offs whose names we barely remember later.

It’s a great “problem” to have, but it can get a little confusing when you try to decide which screenings are worth your time and money. A lot of the festivals cover a lot of the same outdoorsy, eco-warrior ground, and there isn’t much separating them on first glance. So how can you differentiate between them?

Here’s a piece of advice when it comes to making your choice: If the name of the festival has two of your favorite adjectives in it, you’ll probably enjoy the movies. Such is the case this coming Thursday, March 14, when the Wheeler Opera House welcomes the tantalizingly named Wild & Scenic Film Festival at 6:30 p.m. If you’re not interested in things that are wild and scenic, why are in the mountains in the first place?

The festival, which is based in Nevada City, Calif., bills itself as “a film festival by activists for activists” and showcases short environmental and adventure films with a decidedly eco-conscious bent. It seems to have carved out a nice place in Aspen’s rotation, having played to sold-put crowds the last four years, and it has great local backing from the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, which is presenting the festival locally, and platinum sponsors Lululemon, Patagonia, Forum Phi and Rotary Club of Aspen (the Aspen Daily News is a gold sponsor).

The lineup for Aspen includes 12 films that cover all manner of subjects from goats to grey wolves to Greenland, and proceeds from the event will go to benefit ACES’ Tomorrow’s Voices program in honor of Arin Trook, ACES’ former education director and Tomorrow’s Voices educator, and Willard Clapper, who founded the Tomorrow’s Voices program with fellow educator A.O. Forbes in 2000.

It all combines for a spirited event that makes no bones about its desire to spur viewers to take action to protect our increasingly threatened natural places. It’s a message that perfectly jibes with that of ACES and resonates deeply with folks in central Colorado, so while you can expect to be entertained and moved, you can rest assured that won’t be alone and you’ll definitely have picked the right festival.

Todd Hartley is the special sections editor for Aspen Daily News. He can be reached at todd@aspendailynews.com.

Special Sections Editor