Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival

Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival

2023 Film Festival Tickets Now on Sale

Tickets are now available for the 5th Annual Orange Coast Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival taking place Saturday, September 30, 2023 at the Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church Campus, 2845 Mesa Verde Drive East, Costa Mesa, CA 92626.

Click here to purchase tickets ($25 per person). A limited number of tickets will be available at the door; advance admission ticket purchases are strongly encouraged.

This year’s IN PERSON event will feature a matinee starting at 2 p.m. and an evening screening with the same lineup of films starting at 6 p.m. Snacks and drinks will be available for purchase at receptions taking place at intermission and at the conclusion of both screenings.

During the courtyard receptions, attendees will be able to mix and mingle with special guest filmmakers as well as representatives of local environmental groups. Filmmakers who will be present to discuss their films and mingle with Festival attendees are Josh “Bones” Murphy and Carmen Morrow.

Murphy is an award-winning director and producer whose work includes documentaries, short and feature narrative films, TV, branded content and commercials. He is co-founder of the production company Liars & Thieves, based in San Francisco and Brooklyn. Murphy’s film “The Scale of Hope” is the featured title in this year’s Festival. The film’s subject is Molly Kawahata, a former climate advisor to the Obama White House. She is also a dedicated alpine climber who dreams of climbing higher and more challenging summits as she continues to hone her climbing skills while coping with a life-changing mental health diagnosis.

Carmen Morrow is co-director (with Zach Wolf), of “The Dukha,” a short film that marks her directorial and animation debut. She is a Vancouver native who now lives and works in Los Angeles. Her film editing credits include the independent film “Rich Kids,” winner for Best Feature at the HBO New York Latino Film Festival (2018) and “Scrap Dolls,” winner for Best Live Action Short Film at the Children’s Film Festival in Seattle (2017). Morrow is a self-taught needle felt artist and created the stop motion animation scenes in “The Dukha,” which chronicles one of the last groups of nomadic reindeer herders in the world with less than 40 Dukha families still alive today.

The Orange Coast Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival, now in its fifth year, features short films on timely environmental topics with the goal of inspiring environmental activism and a love for nature through film. The annual event is staffed by local Orange County volunteers in cooperation with the annual 20-year-old flagship Wild & Scenic Film Festival, held in February in Nevada City and Grass Valley, California. The Orange Coast festival is one of 165 Wild & Scenic On Tour events taking place across the U.S. in 2023 and is the only one in Orange County.

This project is funded in part by the City of Costa Mesa’s Arts Grant program. The local Festival is also grateful to the City of Costa Mesa Parks & Community Services department for its support.

For more information about tickets and sponsorship opportunities, contact filmfestival@ocuuc.org.

Here is the Los Angeles Times article about the 2022 event:

Environmental film festival returns to Costa Mesa to spark ideas, inspire activism

A still from the 2021 film “A River Reborn,” which plays Saturday at the Orange Coast Wild & Scenic Film Festival. (Courtesy of Mangrove Media)

By Sara Cardine, Staff Writer, Sept 21, 2022 6:29 PM PT

Locals who find themselves concerned about the impacts of climate change but don’t know what they can do to make a difference in their own communities may draw inspiration from a film festival coming to Costa Mesa this weekend.

Now in its fourth year, the Orange Coast Wild & Scenic Film Festival returns Saturday to the Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church with two screenings of 10 short documentary films focused on issues related to nature and environmental activism.

Operating under the tagline “Where activism gets inspired,” the film festival aims to spark conversations and generate ideas among those who watch the films.

Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church member Craig Spery hangs a banner Wednesday announcing the return of an environmentally focused film festival Saturday. (Courtesy of Linda Spery)

“The Hunt for the Giant Asian Hornet” depicts scientists racing to stop the spread of a new invasive species, while “Shaba” tells the story of a young elephant rescued in Northern Kenya after losing her mother to poachers.

“We try and hit hard topics — these films are strong — but also give people hope there can be ways these things can be resolved,” said Linda Spery, a member of the Costa Mesa church who helped organize the first local festival in 2018.

Selections are made from a menu of productions created all over the world and submitted to a flagship festival held annually in Northern California’s Nevada City, where nearly 200 films are shown during the five-day event. Local festival organizers review submissions and build their own individual programs.

Spery said a 30-member festival committee watched 180 short films, looking for entries that caught viewers’ attention, were engaging or evocative and that included a call to action.

Filmmaker Amanda Lipp, left, with Alyssa Nolan, the subject of the short documentary film “Rebuilding Butte.” (Courtesy of Linda Spery)

“The films we’ve chosen show people looking at an issue and not just stepping away and feeling like it’s impossible but, rather, joining together to do something about it,” she said. “We’ve come up with a pretty good lineup.”

The Costa Mesa festival features a matinee from 2 to 5 p.m. and an evening screening from 6 to 9 p.m. Both showings feature Q&A sessions with two of the filmmakers from the lineup. An online-only version of the festival is also available.

One of the Saturday’s speakers is Ben Kalina, a Pennsylvania filmmaker whose 2021 film, “A River Reborn,” introduces the Little Conemaugh River. Grossly overrun with toxic pollutants from nearby abandoned coal mines, the river is being restored by local organizations and activists.

Filmmaker Ben Kalina will discuss his documentary film “A River Reborn” Saturday during the Orange Coast Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Costa Mesa. (Courtesy of Linda Spery)

“These mines were just left, and as they gradually filled up with rainwater, that water mixed with heavy metals, then traveled out of the mines and into the river,” Kalina said, describing how environmentalists used settlement funds to build water treatment plants capable of replenishing the river.

“They are making huge strides at Little Conemaugh, and there’s a lot of money in the new infrastructure to pay for mine remediation.”

Also speaking Saturday is Amanda Lipp, a California filmmaker who created “Rebuilding Butte,” which follows Alyssa Nolan-Cain, a Northern California single mother who learned how to build tiny homes for survivors of the 2018 Camp fire by watching over 2,000 hours of YouTube videos.

Participants Saturday may also meet with organizations and agencies who share the festival’s mission and values. Among them is Costa Mesa Councilwoman Arlis Reynolds, who’s attended past festivals and the flagship event and plans, in her individual capacity, to share information on local sustainability efforts.

A still from the film “A River Reborn” shows Pennsylvania’s Little Conemaugh River, polluted by now-abandoned coal mines. (Courtesy of Mangrove Media)

She cited the creation of the California Coastal Act in 1976 and the formation of the Banning Ranch and Bolsa Chica conservancies as examples of citizens banding together to make huge environmental changes.

“It’s a really hard balance to express the urgency of the global issue but to make people feel empowered to make a difference,” she said. “It’s so important to share the success stories.”

Admission is $25 for the in-person screenings and $20 per household for the online-only format. Tickets can be purchased online at qudio.com/event/ocuuc-2022/register or (in limited quantities) by credit card at the door. Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church is located 2845 Mesa Verde Drive East, Costa Mesa. For more, visit ocuuc.org/events.

If you have questions or wish to be in touch, please reach out to filmfestival@ocuuc.org.