SAGUACHE — Originally from California, the 2020 Wild & Scenic Film Festival took a turn to Saguache on Nov. 14 for a live online showing through headquarters at the Historic Ute Theater. Water health in the San Luis Valley was the theme throughout many of the films and presentations.
Local farmers, ranchers and water managers presented historic and current challenges in the Valley, interspersed with comments from event hosts representing the Saguache County Sustainable Environmental and Economic Development (ScSeed) board.
Newly elected Saguache County Commissioner Tom McCracken described changes to the aquifer that he has witnessed during his 33 years of organic farming in the county.
Newly elected District 35 state representative Cleave Simpson, Jr. joined Heather Dutton from the San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District to repudiate another attempt to export San Luis Valley water upstream to reach the Arkansas River Valley and communities along the Interstate 25 corridor. Simpson urged people to learn more at protectsanluisvalleywater.com
A nominal donation covered access to the 10 films and half-dozen presentations. The “doors” opened at 6:30 with a graphic, musical loop running for 30 minutes while guests shared chat comments. A couple dozen viewers watched the films together until 9:15, and registration provided access from Nov. 14 to 19.
One clarifying comment from the ScSeed moderator explained that “SYRCL” is the Southern Yuba River Citizens League, a community organization formed to keep dams off the river in California. Their success raising money with the festival in the past prompted them to expand to Colorado this year.
A local, tasty twist allowed film enthusiasts to support local restaurants by buying a “Dinner and a Movie” package. Five northern Valley eateries included Villa Grove Trade, Our Food is Art (Crestone), Village Pub (Saguache), Leonardo’s (Center) and the Windsor Hotel in Del Norte.
The 10 movies started at 7:00 with “Invisible Thread,” a film from local videographer Christi Bode of MoxieCran Media. Like distilleries switching production to hand sanitizer, San Luis Valley sewing masters combined efforts to produce thousands of quality masks. By mixing seamstress skills with impromptu production crew at formerly idle Kristi Mountain Sports in Alamosa, the project quickly connected Valley citizens eager to help.
The second film, “Mi Mama,” showed two generations of Dominican Republic immigrants who loved being outdoors in Florida and elsewhere.
“Dream Ride” teetered between dream and reality for a mountain biker snaking along ridges and routes.
“The Brotherhood of Skiing” showed the history of black skiers meeting at ski resorts once a year, starting in 1973 with a trip to Aspen. A couple ski clubs from California and four from Chicago sent a press release a week before they arrived in Colorado. Local officials requested the Army National Guard.
In 2018, the annual event drew 50–60 black ski clubs from across the country.
“Herd Impact,” a Peter Byck film, showed how a husband-wife team with 14,000 acres in Texas can manage their soil and grasslands by keeping their cows in constant motion, much like bison roaming the prairie.
“Green Gone” preceded a 15-minute break with youthful sarcasm about harmful agents in cleaning supplies.
An animated overview of the Green New Deal narrated by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez outlined a look ahead for the planet.
The final two films described poor project planning in Nevada and Louisiana (the Great Basin Water Network and the Bayou Bridge Pipeline).
Although the Wild & Scenic Film Festival originated in California, the 2020 version was Colorado-based. Local sponsors responsible for the event include Joyful Journey Hot Springs, Kristi Mountain Sports, The Orient Land Trust, Archaic Orchards (Lillian and Tom McCracken), San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition, 1st SouthWest Bank, San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District, The Colorado Trust, Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust, The Historic Ute Theatre, Doug Bishop and Lynne Thompson.