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Wild and Scenic Film Festival returns to the Columbia Valley

The annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival returned to Invermere last weekend on Saturday, Nov. 20. The festival, led by Wildsight Invermere, boasted the showing of 10 short films in an innovative way: virtually and in person.

Although a unique format this year, the event marks its eighth annual film festival, with environmental stories being told from locations far and wide, such as Antarctica, Russia, Rwanda, Tuvalu, Norway, and Florida. There was also a tribute to the province itself with one B.C. based documentary titled, The Return, which highlights the decrease of salmon spawning through Vancouver creeks and the efforts that are being made to ensure their safe return.

“This film came about when I realized that there were salmon coming into the creek just a handful of blocks from my home in East Vancouver, a huge city. I went down to see for myself and immediately became fascinated and engaged with this small miracle,” says Marina Dodis, director of The Return. “After decades of industry and urbanization, it is only through the efforts of volunteers that the salmon have returned. And it is only through support of average citizens that they will have a proper chance to continue this resurgence.”

“Nature is very resilient but absolutely needs our help. The intention of the film was not to preach but to invite the viewer to become curious about their own surroundings, wherever that may be,” adds Dodis. “The hope is that the experience will inspire dedication.”

Main themes present within the ten films were of climate change action, living life to the fullest, and an overall appreciation of the planet’s ecosystem, with an overarching awareness of Indigenous culture and consideration to the health and longevity of the Earth.

The festival offered three different methods of participation: in-person at the Columbia Valley Centre at 7 p.m., live-streamed from home at the same time, or a 5-day video-on-demand option. 220 people attended the in person event on Saturday, with an additional 86 confirmed to attend virtually (which runs until November 25). In person attendees were required to prove their double vaccination status in order to abide by COVID-19 safety protocols.

“Through the power of film, the event celebrates the beauty and wonder of our natural world and hopes to inspire audiences to act on behalf of our big, blue planet,” says Kat Graves, Climate Change and Resilience Coordinator for Wildsight Invermere.

Being as the event is Wildsight Invermere’s annual fundraiser, they also hosted a silent auction with 28 items that showcase the Columbia Valley’s outdoor-focused and artistic community. Available both online and in person, attendees had the opportunity to bid on items such as a two-person lazy river paddles donated by Columbia River Paddle, guided climbs up to Chisel Peak from East Kootenay Mountain Guides, and two-nights accommodation at Juniper Hotel in Banff and Paintbox Lodge in Canmore. Donations for the auction ranged in value from $60 to $480.

Door prizes were also gifted to both live-stream and in person attendees. Wildsight stressed their appreciation for those that made the event possible. Their visionary sponsors were Cleanline Automotive, Columbia Valley Law, Invermere Liquor Store, thinkBright Homes. Catalyst sponsors were Collective Carpentry, Columbia Basin Trust, Copper City Physical Therapy, Invermere Optometry Clinic; and Leader sponsors are Basecamp Innovations, Copper City Dental, Juniper Heights Healing, Silver Fern Acupuncture + Herbal Clinic.
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