Film festival highlights environmental challenges

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The 14th Annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival is making a stop in Cleveland on its tour of the United States. The festival, which took place early last month in Nevada City, California, is exhibiting its films at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (CMNH), Saturday Feb. 6.

The fest will feature 14 films ranging from two minutes to a little over a half an hour in length. This year’s theme, “A Change of Course,” aims to inform viewers about the various environmental challenges we face and hopes to motivate viewers to take action. Films have a unique way of presenting situations and stirring up action. The film “Blackfish” (2013) is a shocking documentary featuring the treatment of Killer Whales at SeaWorld. The theme park has seen a sharp decline in profits since the film’s debut.

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival strives toward the goal of activism. In a recent press release, CMNH states, “The films combine stellar filmmaking, beautiful cinematography and first-rate storytelling to inform, inspire and ignite solutions and possibilities to restore the Earth and human communities while creating a positive future for the next generation.”

CMNH traces its roots back to the early 1800s, and it officially incorporated in 1920. The museum features fossils, a gemstone collection, a planetarium, an observatory, a wildlife center and plenty of hands-on activities. One of the most famous exhibits at the museum is Balto, the hero dog of Nome, Alaska. After saving the town from a diphtheria outbreak, Balto was purchased by Cleveland businessman George Kimble for $2,000 after 10 days of mass fundraising by several Cleveland institutions. Balto lived the remainder of his life at the Brookside Zoo (now the Cleveland Metropark Zoo). He was mounted by a taxidermist and then donated to the museum where he now resides on permanent display.

Upcoming in 2016 is the new Perkins Wildlife Center & Woods Garden featuring animals native to Ohio like red foxes, bobcats, owls, otters and coyotes. CMNH offers a more intimate and engaging experience compared to its neighboring art museums and is a treasure to explore. CWRU students also get special discounts like free admission and discounted tickets for planetarium shows.

Doors for the Wild & Scenic Film Festival open at 6:30 p.m. with an EnviroFair featuring local organizations. Doors to the Murch Auditorium will open at 7 p.m., with films beginning at 8 p.m.

Event: Wild & Scenic Film Festival
Location: Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Murch Auditorium
Date: Feb. 6, 8 p.m.
Price: $25