If learning more about environmental issues and seeing a movie both top your to-do lists, there is a way to accomplish both at the same time.
Check out the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival on Tour. Sponsored by the Pinellas Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society and the Suncoast Sierra Club, the films are part of an annual environmental film festival billed as the largest in North America.
The film tour is coming to Dunedin on Friday and the Seminole campus of St. Petersburg College on Saturday. Different films will be shown each night.
"The films are fresh and creative," said Jim McGinity, vice president of the Florida Native Plant Society. "A mixed bag of environmental topics to educate people on the big issues, but also to give hope and empowerment. These are not boring documentaries."
Some of Friday night's films include Ascending the Giants, Nourish and Division Street. Saturday night's films include Big River, Generations: A Perspective on Climate Change and Watershed Revolution.
The films range from 12 to 49 minutes in length. Topics range from climbers searching for Oregon's largest Sitka spruce trees to where our food comes from and how it reaches us.
"Our ultimate goal is to use film as a casual, informal way to introduce people who want to learn more about environmental issues, but don't want to feel pushed," tour manager Susie Sutphin said in a phone interview from her California office. "People will hopefully feel inspired."
This weekend's films come from the more than 125 shown at the 2010 Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival, an annual event.
It was begun in 2003 in Nevada City, Calif., by the South Yuba River Citizens League, a watershed advocacy group.
In 2004, it received so many requests for films that the festival went on tour. The group now helps distribute films to more than 90 communities nationwide.
McGinity says the "feel of the local festival is meant to be intimate. Relaxed."
He searched for venues with character and found what he wanted at Curtis Fundamental Elementary School, built in the 1920s. The auditorium seats around 375.
McGinity also was pleased at the positive response and support from James Olliver, St. Petersburg College Seminole provost.
Olliver offered a space that seats about 300 and has the latest video technology, for an affordable fee, McGinity said.
Olliver is also excited about the event coming to Seminole.
"Not only is this a first-rate festival, with beautiful films, which we've had the chance to preview," Olliver said, "but it dovetails nicely with the environmental thrust of this campus and its environmental theme and curriculum."
McGinity hopes everyone, from those simply curious to environmentalists, come out to see the films.
A gathering at local cafes at the close of each night is in the works so people can discuss the films or simply meet like-minded individuals.
"What we hope for is that people will see the films and get involved at the local level to effect change," McGinity said.
"We want that, and for people to have fun."