“You can’t be an outdoor enthusiast and not be a lover of nature. Or someone who is concerned about the environment,” Richard Paradise tells Boulder Weekly. “It’s all sort of intertwined, and it’s all convergent upon each other.”
Paradise knows what he’s talking about. He’s spent the past 20 years with the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society in Massachusetts (as founder and executive director), but Paradise’s Boulder roots are deep, and the programmer has always wanted to come back to the city he loves and bring something memorable.
His answer: A film festival.
In addition to its year-round programming, the MV Film Society also produces a variety of film festivals — with governing themes that range from international cinema to LGBT — but the festival Paradise knows is tailor-made for Boulder moviegoers is the MV Environmental Film Festival, which celebrated its fifth anniversary this May.
“We both love the outdoors; both love the nature around us; both want to preserve and sustain our environment,” Paradise explains. “Why not do something similar in Boulder?”
And after visiting the Dairy Arts Center last year, Paradise pitched the idea, and the festival quickly found its home. On July 10, the Boulder community will have a chance to catch the first annual Boulder Environmental/Nature/Outdoors Film Festival, or Boulder ENOFF for short.
“It is a long name for a festival,” Paradise admits with a smile, but it does convey the festival’s overarching themes: “Environmental issues and activism, appreciation of nature and the outdoors, and outdoor adventure. So a little bit of everything.”
“Though there [are] other film festivals in Boulder — either traveling festivals or BIFF [Boulder International Film Festival, held every winter] — there’s nothing that specifically focuses on the outdoors and on the environment that could really engage the community,” Paradise says, adding that he hopes the festival will sprout additional screenings, activities and events, “around the year but will culminate with the festival in July.”
Playing at the Dairy Arts Center’s Gordon Gamm Theater, Boulder ENOFF presents over a dozen features, documentaries and shorts.
And with heavy-hitters like Woman at War (an Icelandic eco-terrorist/comedy), Biggest Little Farm (a documentary about a Los Angeles company leaving the city in search of a different way of life) and The River and the Wall (a documentary about where the U.S.-Mexico border meets Mother Nature), Paradise’s inaugural festival will have no trouble educating while entertaining.
“Film is a great start for dialogue, for discussion,” Paradise says. “It’s a great way to see what else is going on around the country, in terms of solutions. Or around the world, for that matter.”
Each screening will be accompanied by a special guest speaker/commenter, who will help lead discussions with the audience. Watching is one thing, application is another, and Paradise hopes Boulder ENOFF will connect the two.
“The [Boulder] community is very supportive of issues revolving around the environment. Around clean energy, around sustainable energy,” Paradise says. “We’re going to try to tap into all of these organizations that are here already and try to bring them together.”
That’s where the Boulder audience comes in.
“Getting people aware and excited about these subjects is important,” Paradise continues, “but one of the reasons we’re doing this in Boulder is that [it’s] already part of the ethos of the community. It’s already important here.”
Paradise knows there is a danger with preaching to the choir, but he’s determined to make this festival special and cast a wide net.
“The specialness comes from the people who show up,” Paradise says, looking beyond the films and the speakers invited. “It’s the whole audience; it’s the whole group of people who show up. And what transpires in that room after the movie.
“I’ve been at screenings where I’ve had people weeping. I’ve had people be emotionally touched by the content. I’ve had people who were angry, you know, because of what was being portrayed in the film,” Paradise continues. “I think that’s what makes the communal experience of watching a film together so special. … From night to night and film to film it could be totally different because you have different audiences coming in and out to see something.”
Paradise is banking on that audience to come out. He knows they will. And not just for this July, but for future festivals as well.
“I go in thinking, ‘This is going to be going for forever,’” Paradise says. “And beyond me. Beyond my connection.”
“I think film festivals in their own right are special if they’re done right,” he concludes. “And if they’re done with the community at heart.”
The first annual Boulder ENOFF kicks off Wednesday, July 10, with a green carpet opening night gala and screening of The River and the Wall with special guest at 7:30 p.m. The reception begins at 5:30 p.m. with music from The Doscocos Jazz Trio and catering by Three Leaf Catering — a company committed to eco-conscious sustainable food service.