Guardians of the River, a short film that is part of the Evanston Wild and Scenic Festival (Photo provided)

Evanston’s Wild and Scenic Film Festival, brought to you by the Evanston Environmental Association (EEA), features 12 shorts, each one a gripping film about mother earth: her grandeur and her decline caused by climate change. 

On Friday, March 11, the shorts will be screened at Rotary International. The festival offers a subset of the larger 20th annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival. Produced by the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL- pronounced “circle”), it features over 110 shorts, all devoted exclusively to inspiring activism with the goal of restoring the earth and creating a positive future for the next generation.

SYRCL is an activist organization in California devoted to raising funds and awareness to recover California’s wild salmon and protect the Yuba River Watershed. The festival raises funds for both EEA and SYRCL.

If you have never attended Evanston’s Wild and Scenic Film Fest, consider taking your wild and scenic family to Rotary International this Friday evening and check it out. You will not be disappointed.  

Camp Yoshi, appearing at the Evanston Wild and Scenic Film Festival (Photo provided)

The theme of this year’s festival is Currents of Hope. Filmmakers of all ages were welcome to submit their work. Six of the 12 films in this year’s collection feature school-aged narrators, thereby informing the festival with the unique perspective of the inheriting generation. Here are two brief reviews from Friday’s event.

My Last Day of Summer

In the first scene of this 8-minute short, we meet Julia, a young girl walking her bicycle to a repair shop. Her chain is out of line, and her bike is unrideable. It’s the last day of summer and she is hoping for one last adventure. While waiting for her bike to be repaired, she discovers a graphic storybook about bike trekking. It takes her no time to transcend from bike shop-to-trail on the wings of this storybook. 

Over the next several minutes we meet Julia the serious biker, a lover of the trail, and she takes us on a fast and furious joyride, heavy on the joy. The scenes flip apace seamlessly between stylized black-and-white drawings to the lush, green trail. The trail ride wakes us up as we experience Julia’s transcendence from the mundane into her love of nature, where she excels.  This short film reminds us of nature’s transformative powers. My Last Day of Summer won an honorable mention in the Kids Film Category and is, itself, worth the price of admission.

My Last Summer, appearing at the Evanston Wild and Scenic Film Festival. (Photo provided)

Protecting the Monarch Butterfly

Monarch butterflies have declined 99% over the last 40 years. They are on the brink of extinction. Among the reasons for the decline are habitat loss and loss of milkweed from herbicide use and climate change. This 4-minute film, produced by the Pollinator Conservation Association, highlights a community habitat restoration project from the northern tip of Lake Erie.

Monarch butterflies can migrate up to an astonishing 3,000 miles. All along the way they need food and rest areas, without which they face habitat loss and death. Restored habitats provide sustenance to thousands of monarchs on their migration south from Canada to the fir forests of Mexico’s Central Highlands. 

Why are monarchs important? They are pollinators. They forage for nectar and unintentionally move pollen within and between flowers. This helps flowering plants make seeds that disperse and make more plants. Seeds and fruits from successful pollination feed other organisms – including us! Monarch butterflies contribute to the sustainability of the entire ecosystem.

While this short film is laced with beautiful butterfly footage, like so many films in the festival, the point is to implore action. For example, we can help reverse the decline of the monarchs by adding monarch-loving plants to our gardens this spring. The reward will be beautiful monarch butterflies and stunning monarch caterpillars, as well as the satisfaction from doing your part to help the environment.

In honor of the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, become a butterfly activist this spring. Plant some milkweed! For more information visit Butterfly Garden Requirements and Plant Lists – Education (illinois.gov).

This year’s in-person Wild and Scenic Film Festival returns to Rotary International at 1560 Sherman Ave. Doors and virtual lobby open at 6:30 p.m., show runs from 7 to 9 p.m. Participants can choose to attend the film festival in-person or online on Friday, March 11. All ticket holders will have access to all the films via video-on-demand for five days following the event. 

Doris Popovich

Doris Popovich is a freelance feature writer for the Evanston Roundtable. Areas of concentration are ever-changing and include Arts, Culture, Nature, Spirituality, and Healthcare.

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  1. Thank you, Ms. Popovich. Your review stimulated extreme interest in these films. I am a nature lover, tree hugger and gardener. You have a gift and l am so glad l saw this. Thank you again.

  2. Once again, Doris Popovich highlights an exceptional opportunity for her Evanston neighbors to enjoy a mind broadening arts experience near home.
    Thanks.

  3. Wonderful to see this..just wishing the article included information on how to arrange to participate virtually and the price…and of course, wishing it was available for all to see at no cost on something like YouTube!