The Wild & Scenic Film Festival aims to inspire a new generation of conservationists

click to enlarge Nobody Dies in Longyearbyen is one 
of eight films playing at North Idaho College.
Nobody Dies in Longyearbyen is one of eight films playing at North Idaho College.

Sometimes the solutions to environmental problems aren't always so far out of reach. Sometimes it just takes the smallest inspiration to move us to take action to combat a daunting issue like climate change. And sometimes that inspiration can come from something as simple as seeing a movie.

"Solutions" is one of the main themes of the upcoming Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Coeur d'Alene. The Kootenai Environmental Alliance and the Lake Coeur d'Alene Waterkeeper program are bringing the festival to North Idaho March 7 to raise money for conservation efforts, and to inspire the next generation of activists to continue their work.

We talked to Kootenai Environmental Alliance board member Doug Fagerness about what Wild & Scenic is all about. Fagerness, a self-described "old guy," says getting young people on board is always an uphill battle, but he's been inspired by the energy of the next generation of conservationists.

"That's what I need at this point in my life," he says. "I need hope to hang my hat on."

The responses below have been edited for length and clarity.

INLANDER: How would you describe the Wild & Scenic Film Festival to someone on the street?

FAGERNESS: The festival is an opportunity to see some creative, independent voices that use film to express themes that impact all of us who share this planet.

Is there an overarching theme to the films at the festival?

Connection(s) and relationship(s) are strong threads that run through the films. Conservation moves from an abstract to a reality of which we are all a part.

What are some of the challenges for conservation in North Idaho?

There's a point where all these various points intersect, and it has to do with water. It's a universal element and if we can't find commonality there, I don't know where we can. From an economic sense there is virtually no one in Coeur d'Alene and North Idaho that isn't impacted by water quality. It's important that we spend more time learning about that. I think the people who moved here and live here ... recognize the beauty of this place. Beauty is predicated on the natural environment.

Are there any films that you have personally enjoyed?

The second half of the film festival focuses on solutions. I am drawn to that because hope can be such a fragile tendril on which to hang our future. To see the opportunities and creative actualities strengthens hope for me and I believe it will have the same impact on festival participants.

What do the Kootenai Environmental Alliance and the Coeur d'Alene Water Keepers hope to achieve with this festival?

[The] Wild & Scenic Film Festival will support our Lake Coeur d'Alene Waterkeeper program by raising public awareness, recruiting volunteers and raising funds. The Waterkeeper program serves as an on-the-water advocate working to ensure that Lake Coeur d'Alene is swimmable, fishable and drinkable. The Waterkeeper program works to protect against threats to the public's water resources in the Lake Coeur d'Alene watershed through enforcement, community action, education, restoration and advocacy.

How do the event organizers feel right now about climate change and public opinion? Defeated? Inspired? Something else?

Public opinion seems to be shifting, as more people accept that climate change is here. Our work with engaging our youth to help identify solutions for the many challenges facing our home environment is not only important, it is urgent. We remain optimistic that many individuals, businesses and communities are taking innovative steps to adapt to the climate changes we are experiencing and we remain hopeful that government leaders worldwide will unify these efforts. ♦

Wild & Scenic Film Festival • Thu, March 7 at 6:30 pm • $10/$5/students/free for NIC students • Schuler Performing Arts Center, North Idaho College Campus • 880 W. Garden Ave., Coeur d'Alene • wildandscenicfilmfestival.org

  • The Wild & Scenic Film Festival will also be at Colville's Alpine Theater on Thursday, Feb. 28, and at Chewelah's Quartzite Brewery on Saturday, March 2. Both festivals are hosted by the Kettle Range Conservation Group. Visit wildandscenicfilmfestival.org/events to find others coming up this spring.

Young Frankenstein @ Spokane Civic Theatre

Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. and Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through June 16
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About The Author

Quinn Welsch is the copy editor of the Inlander.