PICTURED: In Celebration of Open Space by Tate Yoder, Hannah Webber, Catherine Schmitt and the Schoodic Institute, an official selection for the 2020 Wild and Scenic Film Festival.

by Tim Pompey


That pesky COVID-19 virus has done a number this year on most major public events. So, what do you do if you’re a touring film festival? Join the modern age of digital technology. 

The Wild and Scenic Film Festival headquartered in Nevada City, California, will bring the event straight to your TV or computer. It’s a creative response to the challenges of COVID in 2020. Same films. Same creative look at environmental issues. Different approach.

“We can’t gather in front of the big screen personally this year, but we are still excited to come together with a bold and clear purpose for the livestream Wild and Scenic Film Festival,” said Derek Poultney, Ventura Land Trust executive director.

That’s the plan for this year’s festival, which VLT has hosted for nine years. On Friday evening, Oct. 16, you can gather in your living room, yard or anywhere with a WiFi pickup and digitally stream the festival’s 15 films.

Previously, the VLT screened films at large venues such as the Ventura Credit Union. But like the festival itself, organizers have had to pivot.

“This year is totally different because we are not able to gather in large groups,” said Leslie Velez, Ventura Land Trust Development Director.

Those purchasing tickets will be emailed a digital link via Cinematiq that will connect them to the films on the day of the event. Viewers can watch from their TVs or computers. The link will allow viewers up to five days, through Oct. 20, to watch the films on demand.

Part of the festival’s charm has been its food and beverage service. This also is being done in an innovative fashion.

“We wanted to retain the elements of the live event, at least as many as we could, so food and beer in particular were a very important element of last year’s event and the events before that,” said Velez.

This year, as an additional purchase option, you can buy a ticket package that includes food and beer. On Oct. 16, purchased items may be picked up either from the vendor’s site or at the Poinsettia Pavilion. Food vendors this year include gourmet popcorn from We Bee Poppin, meals from Seasons Catering and beer from Topa Topa Brewing Company 

Of special note this year is the film The Lower Ventura River by local filmmaker Jason Hernandez. Hernandez takes viewers on a tour of the river as VLT’s Dan Hulst does cleanup along the river bottom. It’s a bird’s eye view of the challenges faced by Hulst as he deals empathetically with the river’s homeless population and their impact on the Ventura River’s sensitive habitat.

The Wild and Scenic Film Festival takes place on Friday, Oct. 16, 7-9 p.m. Ticket prices start at $35 for a single household ticket; packages range from $50 to $125. Visit venturalandtrust.org or purchase directly at qudio.com/event/ventura.