A UND law student organization is bringing the Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour online to Grand Forks. The Environmental Law Society is hosting the free online event, which begins at 7 p.m. Oct. 22.
The event showcases a collection of films from the annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival, held in January in Nevada, Calif. The festival focuses on films that speak to environmental concerns and celebrations of the planet, said Liz Fordahl, president of the Environmental Law Society and third-year law student at UND.
For the Grand Forks event, 13 films will be featured, including “Bring Them Home,” which takes an intimate look at the only tribal-led buffalo drive in North America. The viewer will experience the power of the American bison and witness a ritual of stewardship, Fordahl said in a news release.
Another film, “Homecoming,” emphasizes the healing and strengthening connection to the Boundary Waters, as Joe Fairbanks reflects on his battle with cancer.
Also, the film “Paradise” highlights the importance of working together to protect special places, and “doing it right” when it comes to developing natural resources, she said. The story is told from the perspective of an unlikely environmentalist, with a backdrop of stunning shots of Montana’s Paradise Valley.
“These events create a place where people can come together, be inspired and talk about important environmental issues that affect North Dakota in a positive atmosphere,” Fordahl said. “We want people to come to this event and be reminded of the beauty of the natural world and why we want to protect it in the first place.”
The film festival “provides a great opportunity for the people of North Dakota to learn about the importance of our natural places and the efforts people are taking to protect them,” said Erik Wallevand, vice president of the Environmental Law Society at UND.
“These stories tell how going into the natural world can be a healing process, a way to connect with our heritage and a whole new way of life,” he said. “From the beautiful forest of Acadia National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains to the lush Yosemite Valley, the festival will connect North Dakotans to amazing places and causes across the country.”
Event participants are asked to register online at https://qudio.com/event/northdakota/register; go to “general admission: free.”
Hosting the festival aligns with the UND Environmental Law Society’s mission to inspire people to become aware of environmental issues and have meaningful discussion about North Dakota’s challenge in balancing the interests of industry and environment, Fordahl said.
The student group, which is hosting the film festival as its Earth Day celebration, had originally planned to host the live event at the Empire Art Center, until the pandemic foiled those plans, “so we migrated to this online platform," she said.
The society’s members are planning to make this an annual event, she said.
The Wild & Scenic Film Festival was started by the watershed advocacy group, the South Yuba River Citizens League in 2003. The festival’s namesake is in celebration of the League’s landmark victory to earn “wild and scenic” status for 39 miles of the South Yuba River in 1999.
Each year, the five-day festival in California, building on the goal of inspiring activism, features more than 150 award-winning films and welcomes more than 100 guest speakers, who are dedicated to the environmental movement.