Film festival highlights local artists Horton and Harp

MD-Film Fest_HarpandHorton_Snow

Photographer Dave Harp and writer Tom Horton, out looking for nature last winter. Below: One of Dave Harp’s photographs.

CAMBRIDGE — Last Friday night, the Dorchester Center for the Arts hosted the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, a first for Cambridge, with an added attraction of local superstars, photographer Dave Harp and writer Tom Horton. The films, which have been shown in Annapolis, Ocean City, Easton, and across the country, came to Cambridge at the initiative of the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy.

Says Sarah Boynton of the Conservancy said, “We wanted to bring the program to Dorchester County and needed to find receptive partners.” They found plenty, like Main Street Cambridge, R&R, and the High Spot, plus a few others to help with publicity and refreshments. Organizers were hoping for a crowd of 100 or so, but before the films were shown, Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta was scrounging around for more chairs. They had underestimated the response from the many Dorchester County citizens who arrived for this beautiful and motivating event.

The films at the festival ranged from a lovely interlude of Birdsong to a daredevil crag-climbing cyclist on a western ridge. Sweaty palms and clenched fists marked that experience. It wasn’t cyclist Danny Macaskill who was nervous; he had all the skill he needed for the incredible ride, filmed by a helmet camera and drones that followed him up and down a narrow ridge. It was the audience that was left gasping at Danny’s feat.

The films presented several extreme experiences with nature. Animal adaptation and survival when humans make right choices, how the mighty Colorado River, carver of canyons, trickles down to a wimpy stream, but can be restored with human intervention undoing what’s been done in the past.

One film dealt with a modest little town that set out to stop destructive fracking that would ruin their town and farms. They fought all the way through courts, becoming a model for many other towns that shook off helplessness and changed their legacies.

Closer to home, films about oysters and cleaning up our own backyard river suggest that there’s plenty we can do right here.

Writer Tom Horton read an excerpt from his forthcoming book, Choptank Odyssey: Celebrating a Great Chesapeake River, followed by a slide show of Dave Harp’s photographic gems. What a show! So, what the audience could take away from the event was that we all can do something, (big or small) to undo past damage and safeguard the incredible gifts of the Choptank. For more information, you can go to midshoreriverleeper.org

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