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Environment & Energy

Wild and Scenic Film Festival Comes to Pittsburgh

A film festival that explores the beauty of nature but also potential negative impacts from oil and gas drilling has its Pittsburgh premiere this month.

The Allegheny Defense Project will host the Wild and Scenic Film Festival to provide a forum to discuss the growing climate crisis Americans face and inspire action.

According to Matt Peters, the events and outreach coordinator at the Allegheny Defense Project, the goal of the festival is to highlight nature both locally in Pittsburgh as well as around the world and raise awareness about potential threats to it.

“Our parks, our wild places, our national forests, these are places that we love and that we enjoy and that we go to for spiritual refreshment and spiritual renewal,” he said. “And these places are threatened by the same industrial systems that we depend on for survival. That raises some really hard questions that we need to (answer) as a society.”

He said the ADP is expecting 250 to 300 people for the Oct. 16 event at Phipps Conservatory, where guests will see 15 to 20 films that “inspire just the sheer enjoyment and adventure of wild outdoors.”

“It’s not gonna be like watching Gasland. This isn’t an evening of scary Al Gore, end of the world kind of movie,” he said. “As our climate changes and weather patterns shift around, there’s very real and very direct impacts on the people that live closest to the earth — the poorest of the poor. And this is true around the world.”

The festival, currently touring nationwide, will visit Pittsburgh to spark a discussion regarding climate change issues. The ADP wants to bring attention to the Allegheny National Forest, which spans half a million acres directly on top of the Marcellus Formation.  

“We’re seeing a rise in timbering again on the Allegheny National Forest – it’s one of the most heavily logged forests in the national forest system. And of course with the rise in natural gas drilling activity, the Allegheny is heavily impacted,” Peters said. “The road densities in the national forest just for the oil and gas roads exceed road densities of an urban area – this is in our national forest.”

Peters said the festival seeks to create an enjoyable atmosphere but a message of strategic activism to protect natural beauty.

“The number one thing I want people to take away is an affinity for our parks and our wild places," Peters said. "We already love these places, and when you love something it’s so easy to take it for granted. And the very real threats that are facing them suggest that the time for action is definitely now.”