How the Wild & Scenic Film Festival got its start…
The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL, pronounced ‘circle’) started the Wild & Scenic Film Festival in January 2003 to promote community building within the Yuba Watershed as well as a way to explore environmental issues through an exciting and influential medium.
SYRCL is a watershed advocacy group that was started in 1983 by a small group of concerned citizens who banded together to fight against several proposed dams. The festival’s namesake is in celebration of achieving Wild & Scenic status in 1999 for 39 miles of the South Yuba River. After twenty-eight years, thousands of supporters and 700 active volunteers later, SYRCL is one of the largest single-river organizations in the nation and the Wild & Scenic Film Festival is the largest film festival of its kind in the United States. January’s annual 3-day event features over 110 award-winning films, plus speakers, celebrities, and activists who bring a human face to the environmental movement.
The tour allows SYRCL to share their success with other environmental groups nationwide. It is building a network of grassroots organizations connected by a common goal – to use film to inspire activism. The festival’s national partners have joined together to support this campaign. By showing the Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival to diverse audiences across the country, we collectively want to inspire more individuals to take environmental action.
Taking the festival “On Tour”
One year after the inaugural festival in 2003, environmental groups started asking SYRCL to bring the festival to their community. Years later, the tour continues to develop as an effective tool for bringing a community together around local and global issues in a venue where environmental groups are able to help new activists take action. Whether depicting the struggle for environmental justice or an educational tale about an endangered species, the films expose people to forward-thinking ideas and global awareness. We want the Wild and Scenic Film Festival to be as big as success for other communities as it has been for our own and in doing so inspire a sense of activism which the festival promotes.