Environmentalists know that June is much more than the start of summer. It's also National Rivers Month, and the San Antonio River Authority will celebrate by hosting its third annual Environmental Film Festival on Thursday, June 9.
Since 2014, the River Authority has partnered with the South Yuba River Citizens League's annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival to host the festival which showcases national and international short films about topics like resource conservation, nature, adventure and environmental justice. This year's festival will feature 11 short films and documentaries that focus on rivers and ecosystems across the world, and will be hosted by Santikos Northwest 14 from 6-10 p.m. The festival is free, includes free popcorn and drinks, but is limited to the first 250 guests.
Each year, the River Authority places a special emphasis on selecting films that discuss river health and the impact human activity has on it, said Yviand Serbones, River Authority community relations coordinator.
"If we see a film that may not have to directly do with rivers, but it directly impacts rivers, like water pollution, we include it because there's a correlation," she said. "There’s a good variety (of films), and we keep them family-friendly with a positive tone."
Featured films for this year's festival include Dredging Up a Solution, Rabbit Island, Bringing Back the Brooks: A Revival of the South’s Trout, and The Thousand Year Journey: Oregon to Patagonia, Diversity and Inclusion in Our Wild Places, and a short informational video on San Antonio River Foundation's Confluence Park, which broke ground last month.
For the complete list of films, click here.
Past festivals have featured documentaries filmed and produced by the River Authority, including the award-winning Sustaining and Enriching Life in South Texas: the Story of the San Antonio River and The Mission Reach: Restoring the San Antonio River. This year, the River Authority will screen a special "video ceremony" for its Inaugural Watershed Wise Awards, which will recognize individuals and organizations from Bexar, Wilson, Karnes, and Goliad counties who have played a key role in raising awareness about issues pertaining to the San Antonio Watershed.
The watershed spans 14 counties and 8,800 streams, and drains 4,194 square miles of land into San Antonio rivers and creeks that ultimately flow into the San Antonio Bay on the Texas gulf coast. The River Authority's Watershed Wise honorees – individuals, nonprofit organizations, community volunteers and educators – have made concerted efforts to alert their communities of the challenges our waterways face. Anything from picking up pet waste and recycling to building rain gardens at homes or businesses can help the overall health of the watershed.
Ideally, the Watershed Wise Awards video ceremony will inspire the film festival attendees to take action in their communities, Serbones said.
"(The River Authority) realized that the best way to inspire people is to show them (how they can help)," she said. "We thought it would be great to see (the honorees) in a setting where people can see actually see them in action, see why were they chosen, and see what they actually do in their community. ... You'll get to hear from them about how they inspire their vision of healthy creeks and rivers."
For the list of the Watershed Wise honorees and to learn how you can be Watershed Wise, click here.
Before the film festival begins, from 5-7 p.m., attendees can visit with several local nonprofits that work to protect the environment, including the San Antonio River Foundation, to learn how to get involved with each of their initiatives. Event partners like outdoor retailers Patagonia and Klean Kanteen will host apparel and gear giveaways throughout the evening.
The River Authority hopes to use the Environmental Film Festival to further drive home the message of conservation and respect for the natural world, Serbones said. "We want to showcase films to inspire those who attend the festival to take care of our rivers and creeks and other natural resources."
For more information on the film festival, click here.
Top image: A turtle swims in the San Antonio River. Image courtesy of Stephen Kale.