Art and film for the environment
Filmmaker and ecologist Charles Post from the film “Sky Migrations.”

Photo by Forest Woodward

Art and film for the environment

Story By: ANTHONY PERROTTA
1/24/2019


BAY SHORE—Seatuck Environmental Association is hosting the Wild & Scenic Film Festival’s first time on Long Island. The event will be held on Sunday, Feb. 10 at the YMCA Boulton Center in Bay Shore from 12 to 4 p.m. 

The festival, which was created by the South Yuba River Citizens League in 2003, promotes grassroots environmental activism through art and film. Each year, SYRCL compiles what they deem to be the best in environmental documentaries, shorts and adventure films for their flagship festival in Nevada City, Calif. To share these films with a larger audience, the organizers take the festival on tour, partnering with communities and local organizations around the country to produce about 250 specialized events each year. 

Seatuck’s development director, Lisa Smith, said her organization viewed over 140 films in order to come up with the 12 being screened next month. Many of the films, Smith added, relate to Seatuck’s work on Long Island. 

Smith said she attended the Wild & Scenic Film Festival a couple of years ago while she was living in another state. “I loved the event and thought it would be a perfect fit for Seatuck and the Long Island community,” she said. “So I reached out to [SYRCL] to find out how Seatuck would host the event.” 

One of the films being screened next month is Charles Post’s “Sky Migration,” which shines a light on a network of backcountry scientists and sentinels at the front lines of raptor conservation. Post said that having been raised beneath the Pacific Flyway, which he describes as one of the planet’s “most prolific avian migratory paths,” birds became an interest of his from a young age. After finishing graduate school, where he studied birds and food web ecology, Post said he became interested in communicating science through filmmaking. 

“I worked with quite a few bird research groups, where I branded hundreds of birds,” Post said. “I knew how amazing the front lines of avian conservation was, and that the passionate men and women living on remote mountaintops, studying these great pulses of migrating raptors, were filled with potential to inspire many. There was a film waiting to be made.”

“Sky Migration’s” screening at the Boulton Center next month will mark its final run with the festival. The film has played over 50 times throughout the country since premiering in Post’s hometown of Bozeman, Mont., in the Rocky Mountains, last February. 

Another film being screened next month is Sriram Murali’s “Lost in Light”, which shows how light pollution affects the view of the night sky. Shot mostly in California, the piece shows how the view of the night sky gets progressively better as you move away from the lights. 

Murali said when he showed his friends and family some of his photos and videos of the night skies, most people questioned whether they were real, whether these stars really existed. “It bothered me that most people didn’t know or even believe that there are places with starry night skies,” he said. “So I made [this film] showing how light pollution impacts the night skies in a way that people can relate to.” 

The success of the film inspired Murali to make a feature-length documentary, “Saving the Dark,” which premiered in San Francisco over the summer and will be available online for free within the coming months. 

The organization that created the Wild & Scenic Film Festival was founded in 1983 by grassroots activists determined to protect the South Yuba River, in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California, from dams. Ultimately, SYRCL won permanent protections for about two-thirds of the 65-mile-long river under California’s Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. 

A few years back, Seatuck launched the Campaign for Long Island Wildlife, an advocacy initiative offering a multifaceted approach to protecting and restoring native habitats while advancing strategies to mitigate adverse impacts on wildlife. This publication covered the launch with the article, “Advocating for Wildlife,” published on Aug. 27, 2015. 

While the initiative is island-wide in scope, the program has a particular focus on the Great South Bay and other estuaries/coastal resources throughout the region. Its specific goals fall into five chief categories: water quality, barrier islands, tributaries, salt marshes and wildlife. 

Seatuck also offers many environmental education programs to public and  private schools across Long Island, and manages the South Shore Nature Center in East Islip. 

Tickets for the Wild & Scenic Film Festival are $25; student tickets are available for $20. Visit www.seatuck.org to get your tickets today. n