A film festival with all-natural ingredients

Fest returns to Golden for 13th year with 55 films on display

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In just three days you can wander the Amazon with its native people, get lost in the forests of India, pop over to Ethiopia for a visit to a lake, then roam among elephants in the Central African Rainforest and then head north to visit the Arctic before making your way to Alaska.

This year’s Colorado Environmental Film Festival (CEFF) features some “really unique films,” said Dave Steinke who, along with Shawna Crocker, co-found the event. Many of these films, Steinke added, are “niche films with a great message, produced by passionate filmmakers.”

The 13th annual CEFF takes place Feb. 21-23 at the American Mountaineering Center, 710 10th St. in Golden. This year’s festival will feature about 55 films — shorts and feature length — and will celebrate its 500th film screening with “Offshore,” a 15-minute film by first-time filmmaker Jenna Miller who will be travelling from Oregon to attend the festival. “Offshore” brings awareness to the challenges surrounding oceans.

There are three pillars of the film fest, said Nicole Bickford, the festival’s director. They are: inspire, educate and motivate.

But, Bickford added, “you don’t have to be an eco-warrior to enjoy the festival.”

Filmmaker Jennifer Tennican tackles the social mission of meaningful and fair employment for people with disabilities, as well as the environmental cause of food security in her documentary film, “Hearts of Glass,” which will be screened on Feb. 21 for CEFF’s free Community Night.

“I’ve been drawn to telling local, community stories,” she said of the small town of Jackson, Wyoming, where she resides. “The more exposure we have to diversity in our communities, to me, the better. I hope (the film) encourages people to think creatively about solving environmental and social issues.”

Justin Bogardus, a Boulder-based filmmaker, uses satire and comedy to “promote the healing power of nature,” he said.

“Humor and nature are two timeless prescriptions for whatever ales you,” Bogardus said. “We’re so tech-obsessed these days, it’s easy to forget the software inside a plant. You’ve got to remember the joy when humans are connected to nature.”

His popular film, “Nature Rx,” — which is a spoofed prescription drug commercial — won best short at the 2015 CEFF, and this year, Bogardus’ “Nature Rx Presents the Living Plant” will screen during CEFF’s free Community Night on Feb. 21.

The CEFF 4 Kids Event, which takes place from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 22, features a number of films geared toward an audience of youth, and one of those films is “Developing a Technology for Water Quality Testing,” by Gitanjali Rao, a 13-year-old from Highlands Ranch.

There are 18 first-time filmmakers featured at this year’s CEFF, including the youngest to date — a 6-year-old from Pullman, Washington, who submitted a two-minute film because “went to the beach one day and felt compelled to tell people to clean it up,” Steinke said.

One thing that CEFF takes pride in is that often, these films can’t be seen anywhere else, Bickford said. In fact, 20 of the films being screened this year are world premieres, she said, meaning they have never been shown at any other film festival.

“We’re an intimate, local festival that has a global impact,” Bickford said.

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