Boulder Environmental/Nature/Outdoors Film Festival organizer Richard Paradise says he tries to hit “all three buttons” in the festival’s name when he chooses the films to show.
“Outdoor adventure or outdoor sport films seem to go over very well in the Boulder area,” Paradise says. “I’ve played three or four over the past six or seven months at the Dairy Arts Center just to keep the name of the festival alive.”
He says those one-off screenings at the Dairy Arts Center, where the film festival is centered, have tended to sell out.
The festival runs from Thursday, July 14 to Sunday, July 17 and focuses almost entirely on documentaries.
“Occasionally, I’ll find a film that is scripted, a narrative feature that has a strong environmental advocacy, a strong environmental theme to it,” he says. “It’s nice to screen something like that because it is a rarity.”
Films to be shown include “We are as Gods,” a look at environmentalist and former Merry Prankster Stewart Brand; “Tracking Notes: The Secret World of Mountain Lions;” mountain climbing documentary “The Sanctity of Space;” “There Is A Place On Earth,” about the role of artists in conservation; “To The End a look at Alexandria Ocasio Cortez” and “The Green New Deal and Inhabitants: Indigenous Perspectives on Restoring Our World.”
Films shown range from full length to shorts.
“We do have a short film component,” he says. “I’ve been soliciting short films under 20 minutes. … I think we are up to about 100 submissions so far. I’ll be choosing 15 or 20 of those to put together and present those as part of the festival.”
This will be the first time in three years the festival will be held in person because of the COVID pandemic. 2022 marks the festival’s fourth year.
“2020 was totally virtual,” he says. “It didn’t really resonate with people going online to watch the festival in July when they are probably more likely wanting to be outside. Last year, it was mostly virtual with a few in person screenings, but they were limited.”
Paradise is hopeful with in person screenings over a four-day period, and hosting receptions and other gatherings that include live music and food, the festival will return to its past glory and be a better, more engaging community event.
“Of course it always comes down to the films, choosing good films that will be appealing to people in that area, in that community,” he says. “I hope a good dose of outdoor films, of nature films – I’ve got a guy who just showed a film at the Telluride International Film Festival about mountain lions – should be interesting and appealing to Boulder residents.”
He says the focus of the festival is to make people more aware of what is going on in the greater world and how it relates to them at the local level.
“If we do a film that deals with climate change, it might have a global perspective,” he says. “I try to pair that with speakers that can comment and talk about what local issues are and what is happening locally.”
Paradise adds that paring films with speakers makes the experience more rewarding for attendees. He says in 2019 he showed a film about renewable energy and had a great panel discussion of people from Boulder talking about renewable energy. At the time, Boulder had been pursuing running its own power grid, a quest it has since abandoned.
He says he likes to show at least one film about the ocean at each year’s festival. In spite of Colorado’s landlocked geography, it has a surprisingly large number of people involved in ocean ecology and how it affects people locally and internationally. Boulder has one of the highest concentrations of licensed scuba divers in the country, so those films are always of high interest.
“There are a lot of ocean enthusiasts in the Boulder area,” he says. “Boulder has two organizations that focus on ocean ecology and ocean preservation. Ocean First Institute, and the Inland Ocean Coalition are both based in Boulder. I’ve had people from both those organizations come in and speak.”
Paradise says he’s also had people from the Denver Zoo come speak to festival-goers as well as people from Colorado universities and colleges.
He adds that he tries to also bring films that are relevant to the mountain environments of Colorado. This year’s opening night includes River, narrated by Willem Defoe and featuring music by members of Radiohead.
“The opening night film River I think is going to resonate very strongly with Boulder,” he says. “Rivers are so important in the state and in the West in general, not just for their recreational value but also for water sources. And they are just so majestic.”
Paradise lives in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts and runs the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society as well as a local movie theater at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center. He put on an environmental film festival in May. As of late May, he had a head start on what films he was choosing for the Boulder festival. He’s lived in Boulder in the past.
“Some of the films I played at that festival will be repeated at Boulder, but not all of them,” he says. “They are two different communities. I play a lot more ocean films here, because we are surrounded by the ocean here. But there are some similarities.”
Paradise says he wants people to come away from the festival with a greater sense of community and be an inspiration.
“As a community and as an individual, you can make a difference, you can make an impact,” he says. “In a way we are preaching to the choir. I think most people in Boulder appreciate the outdoors, appreciate nature and are trying to be environmentally sensitive. But you can always learn more.”
For a complete list of films and festival passes, visit boulderenoff.org.