This year’s Wild & Scenic® Film Festival hosted by the Ventura Land Trust gets a new home and new friends

by Maryann Ridini Spencer (@MaryannRidiniSpencer)

“This is the greatest venue no one’s ever been to,” said Gary Bednorz, chairman of the Ventura Land Trust’s popular SYRCL Wild & Scenic® Film Festival now in its ninth year in Ventura.

The festival, which serves as a fundraiser for the Ventura Land Trust (formerly Ventura Hillsides Conservancy), celebrated in a laid back, galvanizing fashion this year on the campus of the Ventura County Credit Union located at 2575 Vista Del Mar. On August 18, doors opened at 5:00 pm and VLT served up an evening that fostered community connection, rousing entertainment, and engaging films with sustainable themes.

“We outgrew our home at the Poinsettia Pavilion and felt that holding an outdoor festival under the stars would be a wonderful blend of our film festival, and the music festivals we held in previous years,” continued Bednorz.

“The Wild & Scenic Film Festival started in Nevada City, California, and while the flagship event takes place there annually, communities like Ventura custom pick from a variety of films to showcase at their festivals,” said Derek Poultney, Executive Director, Ventura Land Trust. “For the Land Trust, we select films in line with our mission to permanently protect the land, water, wildlife and scenic beauty of the Ventura region for current and future generations. We hope that the festival inspires the community to get and stay connected to the land and to the work of the Ventura Land Trust.”

Surrounded by trees and perched on a hillside with peek-a-boo coastline views, the evening’s family-friendly festival drew in the neighborhood of nearly 1000 attendees who enjoyed delicious eats from a variety of food trucks, libations from local beer and wine vendors, community partner information booths, outdoor games, and a raffle featuring such items as original artwork, outdoor gear, and dining-out certificates.

Cool breezes were a welcome respite from the hot summer temperatures as guests strolled by the vendor booths and food trucks and chatted with friends. Others laid out their blankets (and chairs), on the expansive green lawn and; listened and danced) to acoustic guitar music by Bill Jones and J. Peter Boles, and the rock cover band Mid Life Crisis until the screening of films commenced at 8:00 p.m.

“Our circle of friends expanded this year,” added Adrienne Stephens, Development and Marketing Director, Ventura Land Trust. “The mix of being able to spread out and kick back with friends and family, while enjoying great music, food, and drink, followed by inspiring films was a great recipe for a relaxing, memorable evening.”

The eleven films showcased at the event commenced with an 8-minute movie shown at the April 2018 Water: Take 1 Film Festival “Ventura Land Trust” highlighting the Land Trust’s important community programs and endeavors.

Other films included were “Imagination: Tom Wallisch” where a young boy’s skiing day dreams come magically to life; “Brothers of Climbing,” a poignant short about a small group of black climbers that create a new community. In “Blind Sushi” a blind travel writer meets the world’s first sustainable sushi chef. Together, the two cook up experiences that enlighten them both. In “Dragging 235 lbs. Uphill Bothways,” a mother of four decides to turn off her children’s electronics in exchange for lessons in nature. “The Nature of Maps” roams some of the world’s last remaining wildlands with two modern-day pioneers who map these distant places for all to enjoy. “Where Wild Things Play,” a jaw-dropping ode to“badass” female athletes. “Lost in Light,” is a mesmerizing view of how light pollution impacts the night sky. “Love of Place” delves into one park ranger’s mission to rid a beautiful desert river of an invasive plant species. “Grandad” takes the viewer on a morning meditation row around a serene lake. “A Letter to Congress” features Wallace Stegner’s 1960 letter to Congress about how our unified voice can help prevent the transfer of our most valuable heritage— our public lands— to private and corporate interests.”

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