Newbegin Founder of wilderness perfume company, Juniper Ridge led a nature walk on the Hoyts Trail along the South Yuba River during SYRCL’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival. Photo by Kial James

January 25, 2019 – This weekend, the downtowns of Nevada City and Grass Valley came alive with thousands of film enthusiasts, filmmakers, environmental leaders, and world-class athletes who traveled from all over the world for five days of award-winning films and activism as part of the 17th Annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival. This year’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival featured 150 award-winning films, special guests, activist workshops, Fireside Chats, speaker panels, outdoor excursions, art shows, a gala, Media and Virtual Reality Lounge, award ceremonies and more.

“We had our best turnout ever. This year’s record-breaking attendance at Wild & Scenic shows us that the world is ready to be inspired. People are seeking out the stories that celebrate environmental activism and teach us how we can each make a difference,” said Festival Producer, Jorie Emory.

Wild & Scenic FIlm Festival worked with more than 450 volunteers to fill 800 volunteer shifts during the festival weekend. “Our river community really stepped up to help support this year’s festival. Without our Yuba community, this festival would never be possible. Our volunteers make this festival happen every, step of the way,” said SYRCL Community Engagement Manager, Daniel Belshe.

The festival hosted the CLIF Athlete Speaker Series, welcoming professional climber Tommy Caldwell (known for his dramatic 19-day climb of the Dawn Wall of El Capitan), and professional snowboarders Jeremy Jones (Protect Our Winters, Jones Snowboards, Ode to Muir) and Tamo Campos (Beyond Boarding, The Radicals).

Girls participating in the Youth Poetry Workshop with spoken word artist Jada Imani. Young people crafted personal writings then shared their work at the Open Mic on the York Street stage and during the Love Walk 2: A Festival, at Grass Valley Elks Lodge. Photo Darby Davenport

They joined more than 100 special guest filmmakers and influencers in the global environmental movement including LeeAnn Walters (Goldman Environmental Prize Winner for her role as a whistleblower in the Flint, Michigan water crisis), Chad Brown of Soul River, Inc., representatives from Earthjustice and Bernadette Demientieff (Gwich’in Steering Committee), and many others.

Each year, an esteemed jury selects the very best festival films for awards and honorable mentions. This year’s Official 2019 Wild & Scenic Awards include:

Best of Festival

When Lambs Become Lions

People’s Choice

The Dawn Wall

Spirit of Activism

Ghost Fleet

Persistent Vision Award

Will Parrinello and John Antonelli

The New Environmentalists

Most Inspiring Adventure Film

The Dawn Wall

Best Short

Climbing Out of Disaster

Jury Awards

The Serengeti Rules

RJ Ripper

Student Filmmaker Award

Anna Chahuneau

Pursuing the Monarchs

John de Graaf Environmental Filmmaking Award

Jon Bowermaster

Honorable Mentions

The Silver Branch

Blue Heart

The Weight of Water

Kids Jury

The Arrowhead Traverse

Kids Jury Honorable Mentions


My Mom Vala

About the Wild & Scenic Film Festival

Considered one of the nation’s premier environmental and adventure film festivals, the Wild & Scenic Film Festival is produced by South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL). The festival combines stellar filmmaking, 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 generations to come.