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This upcoming film festival aims to keep the Chattahoochee River and Lake Lanier clean. Here's how
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People gather to watch a series of environmentally themed movies during Chattahoochee Riverkeeper's fifth annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival on May 11, 2019, at the Brenau Downtown Center. Photo courtesy Chattahoochee Riverkeeper
Wild and Scenic Film Festival hosted by Chattahoochee Riverkeeper

When: 6-9:30 p.m. June 11 in person; June 11-17 virtually

Where: Brenau Downtown Center and online

How much: $30 for in-person; $15 for online

Tickets and info: chattahoochee.org/wildscenic 

Lovers of planet Earth have an opportunity to celebrate their world’s natural resources and those who work to protect them as the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper’s Wild and Scenic Film Festival returns to Gainesville for the eighth year.

Doubling as a fundraiser for the organization’s efforts in environmental sustainability, pollution prevention and education, the hybrid format of this year’s festival is set to pique viewers’ palate for nature, adventure and conservation wherever they are.

The festival features 13 carefully curated films provided by the South Yuba River Citizens League. Documented in various locations around the globe, the films highlight topics like community activism, water, energy, wildlife, climate change and environmental justice,  some leaning toward “feel-good,” some toward “call to action” and others toward global connectedness.

“The films touch on so many different topics,” said Mallory Pendleton, Gainesville’s CRK headwaters outreach manager. “The goal is that people who come connect with at least one of those films. It’s just bringing together a lot of people to share their love and show their love (for the natural world).”

The in-person premiere begins at 7 p.m. June 11, at the Charles D. Walters Theatre inside the Brenau Downtown Center. Doors open at 6 p.m. with an environmental expo … allowing guests to mingle with local organizations including Georgia Forest Watch, North Georgia Locally Grown, Red Bud Project, Soque River Watershed Association, Elachee Nature Science Center and Gainesville Parks and Recreation.

Premiere party tickets start at $30 and include a raffle entry for a kayak adventure courtesy of Wildwood Outfitters, CRK membership, complimentary beverages and refreshments from Liquid Nation Brewing Co. and a commemorative steel tumbler, as well as virtual access to the films for five days after the initial screening.

With an online viewing ticket, viewers can watch and re-watch the program at their leisure from June 11-17.

Online viewing tickets start at $15 per household and include a raffle entry and CRK membership. Tickets for both viewing formats also include access to an online silent auction stocked with items and experiences specific to CRK’s mission.

Tickets can be purchased at chattahoochee.org/wildscenic

Profits from the film festival will go toward sustaining CRK’s efforts in Lake Lanier communities, including educational programing, Clean Lanier Equation and Neighborhood Water Watch, where volunteers collect weekly water samples from tributaries that flow in the lake, testing them for E.coli, murkiness and other measurements of water quality.

Via the Chattahoochee River and the hundreds of other waterways that flow into it, Lake Lanier supplies drinking water to more than five million people, CRK said.

Much of CRK’s work in reducing and eliminating pollutants in these waterways hinges on being a good neighbor, according to the organization’s headwaters watershed specialist Becca Risser.

“Because we are here at the top of the Chattahoochee watershed, we benefit from a lot of really relatively clean water that comes to us from the headwaters, and then we’ve got a responsibility to take care of it and pass it on to the people downstream,” Risser said. “Clarkesville and Cornelia and Cleveland are responsible for what they pass on to us, and Gainesville is responsible for what we pass on to Atlanta, and Atlanta is responsible for the people all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico.”

According to Pendleton, “everybody depends on water,” and understanding the process of where it comes from “is a totally different ballgame” from simply expecting a free-flowing supply each time consumers turn on their faucets.

With the upcoming Wild and Scenic Film Festival, she’s hoping to bring awareness to some of the issues confronting water quality and what viewers can do to take action for the benefit of not only themselves, but their neighbors downstream.

“Everybody who lives in Gainesville, everybody who lives in metro Atlanta, they depend on water that comes from Lake Lanier,” Pendleton said. “We’re the ones that are out there testing it hands-on, trying to figure out ways to improve that water quality, water health and to get people to be aware of the challenges that our waters face. It’s just a resource that is stretched way too thin; we take advantage of it, but yet we all depend on it.”