February 15, 2011

Films, Friends and great River Tunes

Wild & Scenic Film Festival
The Blue Note, Columbia, MO
Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011
text by Steve Schnarr 

Cabin Fever Breaks at the Blue Note
Last Wednesday, Feb. 8, was one of the coldest nights of the year. The Blue Note was downright chilly when we got there in the afternoon to set up the Wild & Scenic Film Festival. But it didn’t take long to heat up once the doors opened and warm bodies filled the old theater.

After a couple of brutal winter weeks, cabin fever was in the air in Columbia and lots of old and new friends came out for an evening of movies, inspiration and great music. It was really fun for us at Missouri River Relief, because it was the kickoff for our 10th anniversary – a chance to look back at a bunch of good work and forward to ambitious plans this year.

Films Inspiring Action Across the Country
The Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour is a traveling offshoot of a festival held each January in Nevada City, CA. The original event was put together by a local citizen river group to bring people together, learn about citizen action and natural adventure around the world, and be inspired to take action in their community. The South Yuba River Citizen’s League (SYRCL) loved what the festival did in their town, and decided to leverage that power across the country using local grassroots organizations as hosts.

When we realized that one of the films was the Missouri Stream Team documentary (including a piece about River Relief), we decided to host the festival in Columbia. A grant from Patagonia sealed the deal.
We spent a few months with a group of River Relief crew volunteers putting together the film list and ideas on spicing up the event. Films were selected from a pool of choices screened at the full festival. The SYRCL festival staff provided tons of great advice and resources for pulling off a quality event. Richard King, the owner of The Blue Note, offered us a full night in their historic theater for free. Everything snowballed into the set up for a perfect evening. 
We chose to show four main, longer topical films (around 25 minutes apiece) sprinkled with shorter, more creative pieces. “Big River” was a great way for us to start out. It’s all about thinking about our downstream impacts –  – something Missouri River Relief is all about. It was followed by a piece on young, innovative farmers and a look at West Virginia citizens fighting the effects of mountain-top removal coal mining on their communities (“Greenhorns” and “Burning the Future”). Shorter films included “Get Up Stand Up” (about river surfing in Wyoming), “Lady Bug Swarm” (just plain beautiful), “Garbage Angels” (a mythical animated romp through a garbage dump) and “The Majestic Plastic Bag” (a mock-umentary of the migration of a shopping bag). Click here for more about the films, and links to trailers.
Stream Team Summit 5-6-07
Filmmaker (and River Relief founder) Jim Karpowicz

Local filmmaker Jim Karpowicz, also one of the founders of River Relief, introduced young film makers Nick Rotts and Julian Segert and their PSA on stormwater pollution in Hinkson Creek. Then he introduced his inspiring documentary about the 20 years of the Missouri Stream Team program.You can see the whole thing on You-Tube here.

We wanted the night to enlighten and inspire our friends and it really seemed to work.

A Community Effort
In addition to the hard working Blue Note staff, River Relief crew members greeted people, set up a silent auction and raffle, sold repurposed t-shirts and introduced the films. Everyone had short shifts so they could enjoy most of the night.

2011 Wild & Scenic Film Festival
Ruthie Moccia & Jeanie Kuntz show off their
beautified t-shirt collection
Tons of local friends donated art, books, services and goodies to be auctioned and raffled off. River rats Barbara and Roger Giles walked off with a weekend in Rocheport, with a stay at the Katy Trail Bed & Bikefest, dinner at Abigails, some great books from Pebble Publishing and a couple bottles of Les Bourgeois wine. The Alpine Shop kicked in a cash donation and a kayak paddle.

Big Muddy Adventures, our partners in the Confluence area, put up a guided canoe float for auction. Tim Nigh was the auctioneer, and he goaded the crowd into bidding up to $450 for the trip. Diane Oerly, a longtime River Relief friend, took the top bid. (I hope I can buy a ticket on that boat trip!) Tim can be pretty persuasive, even dragging Brett Dufur (himself a Missouri River canoe guide) into the bidding.

Naked Dave on the riverside
Naked Dave Bandy at
Hartsburg Clean-up, 2008
A special treat was a visit from Allison Skare, who works in Senator Claire McCaskill’s office. The previous week, Sen. McCaskill gave a resolution on the Senate floor honoring Missouri River Relief volunteers for their 10 years of getting it done on the Big Muddy. Allison read a few pieces of the resolution, and handed a copy over to our Director, Jeff Barrow.

The whole thing was topped off with music by our dearest river rat musician friends. “Naked” Dave Bandy coordinated the music. His band Crazyfish invited a bunch of friends on stage to jam on river tunes written by local songwriters (including themselves, of course). I’ve always said that this band sounds best over the river, from a canoe floating down towards Cooper’s Landing. But they sounded righteous in the Blue Note! Then a mutant version of the Roadkill Orchestra took the stage, with “Uncle Denny” Termanian joining Dyno Penny and Karen Crane. It was like transporting the big sycamore at Cooper’s Landing right into downtown Columbia.