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 minutesHow can an endangered species be saved when the natural population falls to as little as 30 members? Conservationists set out to do the impossible and rescue the red wolf from the brink of extinction by breeding them in facilities throughout the U.S. and reintroducing them to their native habitats in eastern North Carolina. The film centers on the comprehensive recovery effort to preserve and start to grow the numbers of one of the rarest animals on Earth, and how the species might succeed despite the odds.
Other films in the series include:
Category: Films for animal-lovers
Duration: 7 minutesThe first wolverine to be seen in Utah in over 40 years was captured on a trail camera in 2014. Naturalists and outdoorsmen had long considered the species extirpated from the region. What followed that photograph was a monumental grassroots effort led by citizen scientists to see if wolverines were back for good — a perfect model of how citizen science can impact the world.
"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 minutesThis film chronicles a Bangladeshi woman trying to be the first person from her country to climb the highest mountain on each of the seven continents, collectively called the seven summits: Everest, Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Puncak Jaya and Vinson. The film is shot on her phone, and details how she climbs not for personal glory, but to bring awareness to the plight of women and human rights back in her home country.
Movies and More
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