Nov 072012

By Dave Cooper

The 2012 Wild and Scenic Film Festival rolls into Lexington’s Kentucky Theater on Tuesday, December 4 with a great lineup of 13 inspiring short films.

The Wild and Scenic Film Festival, which began in 2003, combines stellar film-making, 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 for the next generation.  Selections from the 3-day festival in Nevada City, California, go on tour and are hosted by local environmental organizations. In this way, the festival reaches over 100 cities annually, the largest environmental film festival in North America. And thanks to the folks at Kentucky Heartwood, it’s coming to Lexington.

Highlights of this year’s film festival include:

Miss South Pacific: Beauty and the Sea(2010, Director: Mary Lambert, 39 minutes).

Miss American Samoa delivers dramatic poem about the 2009 Tsunami. From “Miss South Pacific.”

What does a beauty pageant in Suva, Fiji, have to do with climate change?  “Miss South Pacific: Beauty and the Sea” is a short documentary film about the 2009-2010 pageant that brought contestants from all the major Pacific Island Nations to compete for the crown of Miss South Pacific and to raise international awareness about rising sea levels and the salt water intrusion that is destroying their land, crops, and drinking water.  Rising oceans have already forced residents of the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati, which is only 2 meters above sea level, to begin planning for their evacuation to Australia and New Zealand.  Addressing the theme of climate change and its impact on Pacific Island countries, the contestants passionately implore judges, spectators, and the world at large to reduce global carbon emission lest their island homes be lost to rising seas. Is it too late to turn back the tide?

Mountain Roots (2010, Director: Sally Rubin)

“Mountain Roots” is part of a collection of short films in the People Power series by Director Sally Rubin, well-known in Kentucky for her 2010 documentary film Deep Down, about the complexities of the struggle in eastern Kentucky to oppose surface mining in an area that sometimes views destruction of the land as economic development.  Carol Judy, of the Clear Fork Community Institute in Eagen, Tennessee, is a root digger.  She digs ginseng, yellow root, black cohosh, and goldenseal for their medicinal value in the mountains of Appalachia.  Above her community is a 10-mile long strip mine.  Carol is an outspoken opponent of mining, and she says that “There’s beds that I have been digging for 10 or 12 years that are no longer in existence.”  Carol, a colorful speaker, will attend the film festival and speak after the film.

The Craziest Idea (2012, Director Andy Maser)

Thirty years ago, the idea of removing dams on the Elwha and White Salmon Rivers in Washington State seemed crazy.  After all, millions of public tax dollars had been spent over a hundred years ago to build these dams.  Yet these two dam removal projects are now the largest in history and represent a turning point in the effort to restore free-flowing rivers for salmon, whitewater recreation and Native American culture.  The climactic moment of the film is the explosive breach of 125 foot tall Condit Dam on the White Salmon, captured using video and time-lapse photography techniques.

Dark Side of the Lens (2012, Director:  Mickey Smith)

“Dark Side of the Lens” is one man’s personal and heartfelt account of life as an ocean based photographer. This short film takes you on an eerie, stunning and moving journey amongst the epic oceanic grandeur of Ireland’s west coast. Renowned documentarian of the heavy salt, Mickey Smith has succeeded in creating a visual poem that offers a humble glimpse into his strange and magical world, reflecting insights that ring true with many of our own lives.

One Plastic Beach (2012, Camera / Edit: Eric Slatkin, Producer: Tess Thackara)

Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang have been collecting plastic debris off one beach in Northern California for over ten years. Each piece of plastic Richard and Judith pick up comes back to their house, where it gets cleaned, categorized and stored before being used for their art. The couple make sculptures, prints, jewelry and installations with the plastic they find washed up, and in the process, raise a deeper concern with the problem of plastic pollution in our seas.

Weed War (2012, Director: Rich Addicks)

A profile about Mark Harbaugh, a goat rancher and representative for Patagonia fly fishing equipment, “Weed War” documents one man’s obsession to do his part for the environment by using weed-eating goats to control noxious invaders in the Rocky Mountains.

Films begin at 7:00pm and the festival runs until 10:00pm at the Kentucky Theater in downtown Lexington.  Tickets are $10.  The Wild and Scenic Film Festival is a fundraiser for Kentucky Heartwood and Kentucky Mountain Justice.  Kentucky Heartwood is a non-profit forest preservation group that has been dedicated to protecting the beauty and integrity of Kentucky’s native forests for over 20 years.  For more information on the festival and selected films visit

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