Environmental film festival in Orange County goes virtual

"Bare Existence" will be featured at the virtual Wild and Scenic Film Festival on Oct. 17.
“Bare Existence” will be featured at the virtual Wild and Scenic Film Festival on Oct. 17. The annual festival usually takes place in Costa Mesa but is going online this year, due to the pandemic.
(Courtesy of the Wild and Scenic Film Festival)

As wildfires rage and the pandemic tears through the country, a film festival organizer in Orange County is hoping to play a part in shedding light on climate change.

The Wild and Scenic Film Festival, one of the largest environmental film festivals in the country, will return for the third year at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 17.

“It’s pretty obvious bad things are happening to the environment, and I don’t know if we can reverse it or not, but we can try,” said festival organizer Karen Kennedy. “And this is a way people can be aware and learn.”

Though the festival is usually held at Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church in Costa Mesa, it will take place virtually this year.

The event will feature 11 short films — the longest is about 20 minutes — and will run for about an hour and a half. Viewers will be able to chat online with filmmakers.

Kennedy said she was convinced to move forward with the virtual festival after speaking with organizers of the physical festival.

“At first we weren’t even going to do it,” Kennedy said. “We said we don’t want another Zoom.”

She said the films vary, but should give viewers a sense of hope about the planet’s future.

One, “Bare Essentials,” documents the experiences of biologists fighting to save polar bears from extinction. The species has been hit hard as climate change continues to eat away at their environment.

“This film presents a drastic cry for immediate attention and instills our viewer with hope, illuminating present-day efforts for a brighter future,” the film description says.

“Detroit Hives” showcases a young couple who have been purchasing vacant lots in Detroit and repurposing them as bee farms.

“The theme this year might be hope,” Kennedy said. “As we get through this time and to make the world a better place we have to look forward and keep going.”

For more information about the festival, visit

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