'Seeing is Believing' - Nature Now Hosts 4th Annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival

written by Charlotte Gallagher


Ice climbing in Kentucky. The first African American to complete the Triple Crown of Hiking. Pacific Climate Warriors. The first community owned elephant sanctuary in Africa. The world’s most trafficked mammal. Disappearing Penguins. The plastic crisis. A blink kayaker. The ghost orchid.


Fasten your seat belts for the 4th annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival right here in amazing Columbus, Ga. Prepare for three days of award-winning short films about adventure and the environment, live panel discussions with the stars from and directors of the films, after-parties with live music, art, food, yoga, beer, and more. This a festival designed to be engaging, inclusive, diverse, and suitable for all ages.


“This isn’t an event. It’s an EXPERIENCE. You can FEEL it. And seeing is believing,” says Paige Swift, Executive Director of Nature Now - the host of Wild and Scenic Film Festival ON TOUR in Columbus, GA.


Every Nine Minutes

Hub Strategy & Communications, Oliver Hamilton | 2018 | 4 min.


If you get the pleasure of meeting Swift, you will immediately get sucked into her strong excitement and passion for environmental films. If you’ve been to this festival in years past, you’ve surely walked out of the theater with a new perspective about the world and a desire to make a difference.


“This festival motivates people to do something, whether it’s riding a bike more often, or trying slack lining for the first time, or becoming more involved in learning about the environment,” Swift says. “I love watching audience reactions and how they’re moved by the films.”


Swift has been in the TV and film industry since college. She received her degree from the University of Georgia at the Grady College of Journalism. She mentions that movies such as Do the Right Thing and Pulp Fiction (she saw it 5 times when it first came out) changed her life. After a series of freelance corporate positions in Atlanta, she fell in love with the documentary film industry.


In 2017 she was encouraged by a friend to go to the main Wild and Scenic Film Festival in Nevada City, Ca. which started 20 years ago. Wild and Scenic is billed as “a film festival by activists for activists. It inspires environmental activism and a love for nature through film. Wild & Scenic shares an urgent call to action, encouraging festival-goers to learn more about what they can do to save our threatened planet.” Source



Where The Wild Things Keep Playing

Krystle Wright | 2019 | 4 min.


When Swift found out that the festival offered touring contracts to other non-profits who were interested in sharing the films in their city, she quickly brought the idea to Columbus, GA. In 2018, the Wild and Scenic Festival debuted in Columbus, and in 2019, it was the largest event out of all the other 250 non-profit hosts in the United States.


Last year due to COVID-19, the festival went virtual, but still brought in many ticket sales.

Swift explained that she respects how documentary filmmakers are less interested in the money – that their films are often passion projects and they are in it to educate and connect to their audience.


“What’s really more important? What has more value? Films where you’re checking out or checking in?” she asked. “With documentaries, people learn new things they never knew about, like what a 'pangolin' is. Is everything a happy message? No, but to quote Bob Marley – ‘to disturb my neighbor is sometimes necessary to inspire change.’ We are mindful about the films we choose in this festival and the messages they present.”


Herd Impact

Peter Byck, Paula and Jim Crown, Carbon Nation | 2018 | 23 min.


She went on to explain that real change can occur at the policy and manufacturing levels. For example, on Saturday there will be a live discussion with Terrapin Beer Company about how businesses do not need to be intimidated by sustainability. Their message is it's a choice that can actually save money and create a positive impact on the environment. The conversation will be followed by a “Climate Conversation” film block for guests to further learn about this topic.


Other films in the adventure block include Feel of Vision about a blind kayaker, Love Trails and Dinosaurs about the first person with Autism to hike every trail in the Great Smoky Mountains, Born from Junk about the origins of mountain biking in Crested Butte, CO, and Pedal Through which follows three young African American women on a backpacking adventure in the Oregon backcountry.


“Go see the films. They’re all shorts with the exception of one feature-length film about William Bartram’s legacy as America’s first naturalist. These films could change someone’s life. One moment in one scene could change someone’s life - just like me watching Do the Right Thing changed mine.


In the future we hope to grow the festival to a full week as Columbus is an ideal urban footprint for it. As of now, there’s nothing else like it in the Southeast. Our ability to host the event wouldn’t have happened without the Columbus community, our sponsors, Columbus State University, and our presenting sponsor Georgia Power.”



Wild Toddler Chronicles: Legacy

Brian Lewis | 2019 | 11 min.


Columbus' festival is also a bargain compared to attending the main festival, as Swift illustrated.


“At the main Wild and Scenic Film Festival in California, a VIP ticket would cost $450, and you’ll surely pay for extra events on top of that,” says Swift. “But our VIP pass is only $150. And as we grow ticket sales, a portion of those will go back to partnering with local non-profits like Trees Columbus and the Chattahoochee River Conservancy – so we want to encourage people to buy some tickets!”

You can also choose a la carte from one day passes ($100) or single block passes ($25).


If You Go:


What: Wild and Scenic Film Festival When: August 19-21

Where: Riverside Theater Complex and Woodruff Park.

More to know: Dress is river casual.


To view the full schedule and to purchase your tickets, click here.

For a sneak peek at all the documentaries in the festival, click here.

Follow @watchnaturenow for posts and updates.