Nearly every college student dreams of spending time abroad, but many cannot due to the financial limitations of being a student. The Wild & Scenic Film Festival made a stop in Salt Lake City on its 11th-year tour and raised around $2,100 last week to ensure abroad education opportunities are within reach for students who desire international education.
Most films featured had a prominent focus on global sustainability issues, while others focused on adventure to inspire the viewers. The University of Utah’s environmental and sustainability studies program hosted the event, and the assistant director of the program, Jennifer Watt, led the efforts with the help of a group of students from the Sustainable Leadership Community.
Watt said she set out into the community for sponsors last year and began with businesses she was familiar with personally. This year she had the help of Sustainable Leadership Community members, who extended the event’s sponsorship network.
In January 2003, the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL, pronounced “circle”) created the Wild & Scenic Film Festival as a way to explore environmental issues. The slogan for the festival is “Where activism gets inspired.” Since the touring film festival’s creation, it was met with enthusiasm from the environmental groups, resonating a desire to host the kind of event that would bring communities together to educate and inspire.
During the intermission, there was a raffle to give away merchandise from the many sponsors who made the event a possibility. Clif Bar, Patagonia and Mother Jones were just a few sponsors who provided the raffled prizes for the audience.
“I liked talking to people about how they felt about the movies, personally,” said Warren Becroft, a senior in environmental studies and a Sustainable Leadership Community member, “because I’m an environmental studies student and I know most of the people here weren’t, and I wanna know if we made an impact on their lives.”
The money from the event will go to reducing the costs for students to participate in study-abroad programs in Costa Rica.
“That truly inspired me to be an activist for the beauty in my local area and an advocate for cleaner food and air,” said Victoria Sorrentino, civil engineering major and first-time attendee at the film festival. “It was really comforting to see so many people taking a stand for their community and standing up against their governments and bureaucracies to make a change. The best part is that they were successful. It’s absolutely inspiring. I left feeling encouraged, enlightened and motivated to make my own changes for my community.”
Watts said she was happy with the turnout for the event and looks forward to continuing to host the film festival for years to come.