By Mike Bizier, Contributing Writer
Published April 2, 2015 in The New Hampshire
PORTSMOUTH — Since 2003, the Wild and Scenic Film Festival has informed audiences of current environmental issues. As the largest environmental film festival in North America, it is Wild and Scenic’s mission to spark conversation throughout the country to discover resolutions of these issues.
The Wild and Scenic Film Festival isn’t just restricted to one location, however. In a three-month application process, Wild and Scenic On Tour can bring the festival to local communities throughout the country.
In the New Hampshire Seacoast, the festival will be held on Friday, April 24 at the Music Hall Historic Theater in Portsmouth at 7 p.m. About 500 attendees are expected, and there will also be a free raffle with donated prizes from local businesses.
For the past four years, the Southeast Land Trust (SELT) has brought the festival to Portsmouth. The group was founded back in 1980 as a nonprofit conservation organization determined to protect the outdoors for future generations. SELT serves 55 communities in southeastern New Hampshire and has over 13,000 acres of land in conservation in Rockingham County.
Isabel Alay, Development and Communications Manager at SELT, served on the film selection committee and says she’s excited for this year’s line-up.
“The 13 films we have selected for this year’s show span a wide variety of environmental and human ecology topics including protecting wildlife habitat and health, enjoying outdoor adventures and the beauty of nature, advancing renewable energy efforts in the U.S. and abroad, and saving lands and resources for future generations,” Alay said.
For Alay, what makes a quality film, and part of her process of determining what will show during the festival, is not just the filmmaking, but also the stories that inspire them.
“All the films exemplify high caliber film-making and there are few that make your jaw drop – the powerful stories of people and nature come alive through these films,” Alay said.
The films that are included in the line-up come from all around the country, giving a wide scope of the issues at hand. According to Alay, the film subjects cover topics such as community action programs, overcoming physical disabilities, environmental degradation and more.
The festival is sponsored in part by The Green Alliance, a local organization that works to promote and unite sustainable businesses and green-minded consumers throughout New Hampshire. The Green Alliance is giving away three tickets to this film festival to individuals that join the organization as Lifetime Members. They also will be hosting a ticket give-away on Facebook, Twitter and other Green Alliance social media outlets.
“This is our third year sponsoring the event,” said Green Alliance director Sarah Brown. “We are great friends with SELT and are very supportive of all the environmental work that they do. I’ve been to the festival every year we’ve been a sponsor and the films are always very powerful and inspiring.”
Additionally, several of the Green Alliance’s green-certified Business Partners will co-sponsor the event including Proulx Oil & Propane, Progressive Asset Management Group, Cornerstone Tree Care, Be Good Branding, Ultra Geothermal, and The Gundalow Company.
Like Brown, Melissa Aho from Ultra Geothermal has attended the event for the past three years and enjoys not only the wide selection of films but also the prospect of meeting with like-minded business leaders throughout the region.
“One of my favorite parts about the festival is networking with other green businesses,” Aho said. “I think more green businesses should actually get involved with sponsoring these kinds of events because it puts you in the spotlight of all the green focused people.”
As a raffle prize, The Gundalow Company will offer a one year Pilot level membership, which includes four sail passes, invitations to member events, and a 10 percent discount at the Gundalow merchandise gift shop.
Along with the raffle items, Alay is most pleased to see many of the area’s local businesses working together on a common goal.
“We are grateful to all of our sponsors who make this event possible,” Alay said. “Our sponsors care about bringing this unique event to Portsmouth each year, providing beauty and inspiration to our guests.”