Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center's resident red wolves will achieve celebrity status this month when they hit the big screen during RiverRocks' inaugural outdoor film festival, being hosted at the nature center Oct. 14.
The new event includes a host of short adventure and conservation films from around the country. Over the past several months, Martha Hunter, marketing and outreach manager for Reflection Riding, and her co-workers have been curating and reviewing the films submitted for the film festival — which will culminate in the marquee film, "Red Wolf Revival," in which some of the center's own red wolves make an appearance.
"We've got a silent presence in the film," Hunter says in regards to her and her co-workers' role. The red wolves and their harrowing tale of survival easily steal the spotlight.
"The film is about the Red Wolf Recovery Program. Part of our goal is to raise awareness and funds for the campaign. We want people to know the story of these wolves," Hunter says.
Specifically, Reflection Riding is aiming to improve its red wolf habitat, which hasn't been updated since 2011. Red wolves are nearly extinct, with only an estimated 30-60 remaining in the wild. A few hundred red wolves are kept in nature centers and arboretums around the country, with seven in residence at Reflection Riding.
The survival of the red wolf is grim — but not doomed, as festival-goers will learn watching the film.
Hopefully, "Red Wolf Revival" will not be the only film in the lineup that inspires hope and awe.
Hunter and her co-workers have selected over a dozen films to showcase at the festival, spanning a wide gamut of interests and topics. Hiking journeys to Patagonia, road trips with a longtime furry friend, brief documentaries on pygmy seahorses and the ecology of falconry are just a few of the synopses of the films Reflection Riding will be showing. Hunter says curating a balanced list of films to cater to many audiences was one of her top priorities.
"We're such an active city, focused on the community, and those themes are important to us. We wanted to make sure our core values were represented," Hunter says. "We wanted to make sure we had really energizing films."
The films will be broken into three categories: destination/travel, conservation/environmentalism and films for animal-lovers. The film about red wolves covers all three categories.
What Hunter hopes guests take away from the evening is an appreciation for the environmental work that the center and other organizations like it do to preserve local species and natural habitats.
"We really just want a chance to tell our story and the story of our pups," she says.
"Red Wolf Revival"
Duration: 24 minutes
Other films in the series include:
Category: Films for animal-lovers
Duration: 7 minutes
"Think Like a Scientist: Boundaries"
Duration: 7 minutes
A conservation photographer and biologist have teamed up to catalog the environmental impact of the nearly 700-mile border wall separating the United States and Mexico, which President Donald Trump has said will be extended to cover the full 2,000-mile border. This film documents how local animal and plant life have been affected by one of the longest walls on Earth, and what can be done to minimize the environmental damage already done.
Duration: 13 minutes
In addition to film screenings, the event includes guest appearances by Reflection Riding’s animal ambassadors: hawks, snakes, foxes and more. Chattanooga Presents!, which helped Reflection Riding plan the event, has also organized live music and food trucks throughout the afternoon. Tethered hot air balloon rides and a canoe trip with one of the center’s naturalists will also be available. Following the films, a Q&A about red wolves and restoration efforts for the species will be lead by staff.
The fee to enter covers all activities that take place during the festival.
Non-member adults: $15
Non-member children and seniors: $12
Member adults: $10
Member children and seniors: $7