ANDERSON — In a celebration of waterway preservation and recreation, the Hoosier Environmental Council is hosting the White River Short Film Fest.
More than a dozen films featuring the White River and conservation efforts are planned for 6 p.m. Sunday at Anderson’s Mainstage Theater, 124 W. Ninth St. Tickets for adults are just $5; children will be admitted for free.
“This is a brand-new venture, and we thought we would give it a try, and Anderson seemed the perfect place to do it,” said Jeni Jenkins, senior special projects associate for the HEC. “So far, the community has been really receptive to it.”
Short films featured include Mark Dawson’s “The Wild President,” about former President Carter’s love for rivers, and “Creating Beauty on the White River,” produced by Indianapolis-based Reconnecting Our Waterways.
Cold Waters, an award-winning film about the impact of climate change on America’s rivers, will also be shown, along with “WHY,” a river adventure film. A documentary about the Mounds Greenway, a proposed linear park and trail system, will also be screened.
In all, the White River Short Film Fest will feature 15 films, ranging in length from a couple of minutes to 10 minutes, that “really empathize how important waterways and, specifically, rivers can be in people’s lives,” Jenkins said.
The HEC, founded 35 years ago, is the largest environmental policy organization in Indiana. The council strives to advance solutions that are both good for both the environment and the economy.
Tim Maloney, senior policy director for HEC, said the film festival is designed to call attention to the value of the White River.
“It’s importance from an environmental standpoint, from a recreation standpoint, and an economical standpoint,” he said. “That’s a common theme to virtually all of the rivers in Indiana and across the world. We wanted to take the opportunity to do this and help communicate that kind of message in Anderson itself.”
The Film Fest will also be used to highlight the Mounds Greenway, a proposed linear park and trail system along the White River from Muncie to Anderson and, eventually, Indianapolis.
“The central mission of that proposal is to protect a healthy, free-flowing White River that people can enjoy and is a true community asset,” Maloney said.
Three of Dawson’s films, all focused on the White River, will be shown.
Dawson, a former Boy Scout, said he has always cared about nature and the environment but was never directly involved in fighting for preservation until the Mounds Lake proposal a couple of years ago. The project would have dammed the river to create a reservoir stretching from Anderson to Yorktown Through his films, the Anderson man tells the stories of people who have a “unique connection to the beautiful treasures along the White River.”
“White River Stories reminds our community, and others, of the rich natural, cultural and recreational resources that we need to protect for our children and grandchildren,” he said.
Dawson said that anyone who appreciates the White River and the community should attend the Film Fest to learn more about the river and Mounds Greenway.
Maloney noted that, depending on how well it’s received, the Film Fest could become an annual event.
“We think these are great events to bring communities together and to help raise awareness about particular concerns or resources,” he said. “If the community thinks it’s a good idea, it very well could go forward into the future.”