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Wild & Scenic Film Festival features funny, inspirational and poignant work

Published: Wednesday, April 23 2014 3:35 p.m. MDT

Living in poverty for as long as he remembers, Ryan Hudson grew up in and out of homeless shelters. At 14, Ryan was introduced to snowboarding through Outdoor Outreach, a nonprofit organization dedicated to using outdoor activities to empower at risk youth, and his life took a 180. He is competing as a semipro athlete and serving as a brand ambassador for The North Face. The film "Ryan's Stories" is being shown at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Park City Thursday.

Camp4Collective

PARK CITY — Ten dollars and a few hours will buy residents a chance to take in the spectacular grandeur of the Colorado River, delight in the catch of a young boy's first fish or giggle at society's love affair with the ubiquitous plastic bag.

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival on Tour is Thursday, featuring 13 short films being screened from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Jim Santy Auditorium, 1255 Park Ave.

In its sixth year, the festival is one of the key outreach events of the Summit Land Conservancy, which works to preserve open space and key agricultural, wildlife and riparian habitat in Summit County and surrounding areas.

The conservancy, the first accredited land trust in Utah, holds 23 conservation easements to more than 2,500 acres of open space — such as the land surrounding the historic McPolin Farm white barn off state Route 224. Tickets to the festival are $10 for adults and $5 for students.

Robyn Geist, the conservancy's outreach and development director, said 13 films ranging from two to 27 minutes in length were picked for this year’s screening.

"We are so excited about this year's programming," Geist said. "Our effort was to get something in there for everyone — something for kids, something that inspires you to get active in the outdoors, something that is issue-oriented and informative."

In "I am Red," the Colorado River describes its own majesty, utility, and its plight, serving as the liquid mainstay for 36 million people, supporting nine national parks and wending through seven states.

The four-minute video by Pete McBride includes stunning photography and poignant narrative.

"I am not the strongest or the largest, but I am the hardest working," it states. "But I don't think I can offer any more. I am tired."

In contrast, "A Brief History of the 5-Cent Bag Tax" uses humor to take a poke at people's reluctance to give up the convenience of retail plastic bags, giving one pause about what type of motivation it will take for society to shelve the habit.

Festivalgoers will also get to delight in the wonder of that first catch by a 5-year-old boy on a fishing expedition through "My First Fish," or learn the uplifting story of Salt Lake resident Ryan Hudson, a formerly homeless youth who found purpose through snowboarding. "Ryan's Stories" was produced by Camp4Collective, a Salt Lake City-based active lifestyle film production company.

Another film, "Snows of the Nile," is the visually captivating exploration of the glaciers of Uganda's Rwenzori Mountains and their vanishing existence.

Geist said volunteers culled the films from an initial offering of 80 pieces of work to come up with a good mix of entertainment and education for Thursday night.

The festival was started in California by the watershed advocacy group the South Yuba River Citizens League in 2003. The festival’s namesake is in celebration of the group's landmark victory to obtain “wild and scenic” status for 39 miles of the South Yuba River in 1999.

Geist said the traveling event allows local organizers to custom pick films to help build support for local land, wildlife and water issues.

Email: amyjoi@deseretnews.com

Twitter: amyjoi16

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