Nevada City Film Festival on Aug. 28-Sept. 4 features virtual screenings, outdoor drive-in

From the blog of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine:

Despite COVID-19’s best attempts, the show must go on for the Nevada City Film Festival which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

The nonprofit Nevada City Film Festival will adapt to the pandemic, moving film screenings online and to an outdoor drive-in which will allow for safe social distancing. Online festival passes will be sold for $35, an industry pass will go for $25, and there will be the option to pay as you watch for $8 per screening.

Since its meager and storied beginnings, the Nevada City Film Festival has championed for the odd, the unheard, and the brave. It was dubbed “The Sundance of the Sierra” by Sacramento News & Review and has been a leader in offering support to independent filmmakers and artists, and was recently voted the third best film festival in North America in USA Today’s Readers’ Choice poll.

Nevada City Film Festival Goes Global

This year’s fest will be largely online – with close to 100 award-winning independent short and feature films from around the globe – being offered. Just like watching your favorite film on Netflix, Hulu or Criterion, film lovers can stream films on their laptops, computers or smart televisions. In addition to the official selections, an online pre-party will take place August 26 @ 7pm, where attendees can ask questions about the festival and films, and learn about the first ever Nevada County Student Film Festival launching Spring of 2021.

Films at the Drive-In

Following a successful drive-in experience this summer which served as its annual Movies Under the Pines series, the theme will continue with nightly films being screened at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. Car-hop vendors will be available for dinner items and ice cream for attendees to enjoy in their vehicles.

The festival opens Friday, August 28 with the narrative feature Freeland directed by award-winning filmmakers Kate McLean and Mario Furloni. The film is about an aging pot farmer who suddenly finds her world shattered as she races to bring in what could be her final harvest, fighting against the threat of eviction as the impact of the legalization of the cannabis industry rapidly destroys her idyllic way of life. This naturalistic narrative was shot on real pot farms during the harvest season in the lush and isolated hills of Humboldt County, the mythical birthplace of American weed. Accompanying the film are shorts from the festival’s inspiring “Our Better Angels” program.

Saturday night’s feature Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets directed by Bill and Turner Ross had everyone talking at Sundance this year. It’s a fascinating portrayal of a group of barflies that tests the boundaries of documentary filmmaking. Opening that program are a handful of films from the Late-Night Shorts program, a collection of cinematic curios intended to amuse, confuse and illuminate.

On Sunday night audiences will enjoy Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 2001 classic Amelie, a lighthearted fantasy in which a winsome heroine overcomes a sad childhood and grows up to bring cheer to the needful and joy to herself. You see it, and later when you think about it, you smile. Also included are shorts from the Becoming the Change program which celebrates those who are challenging the status quo, in service toward a more human and just world.

Creativity takes flight in the Animated Shorts program on Monday, August 31st, and tend to favor not only those that charm and entertain, but also those that challenge expectations and have something relevant to say. Discretion advised: NOT intended for viewers under age 16.

Families and their children will be delighted Tuesday, September 1st with an array of shorts from around the world. Special pricing for this night only – $20/per car.

Wednesday, September 2nd’s program films from the festival’s Adventure Shorts and the highly anticipated documentary feature Public Trust, directed by David Garrett Byars. U.S. public lands are a uniquely American experiment that welcome everyone — hikers, campers, hunters, sightseers, anglers and ranchers — to its 640 million acres. But these national treasures and traditional homes of native people are under threat from the Trump administration. The powerful extractive industries, backed by regulation-slashing state legislators and federal agencies, see these lands as a gravy train whose stores of oil, gas, uranium and copper should be unlocked. Public Trust follows acclaimed outdoor journalist Hal Herring as he explores America at a threshold: Will we preserve our public land birthright or will we create a country where even a sunset has a dollar value?

Curating and presenting extraordinary short films have always been at the heart of the Nevada City Film Festival. Be it through drama, mystery, romance, comedy, or some alchemical blend of all these elements, a spellbinding story that begins, unfolds and ends in only a few minutes is a difficult thing to create and a rare pleasure to behold. Thursday night’s program features many of the Narrative shorts from this year.

The final evening of the festival will feature The Best of the Fest as voted on by judges and audience members in the drive-in experience. Stay tuned for additional information and screening times.

No matter the format, Q & A sessions with the filmmakers will be held after each screening.

Sounds of the Nevada City Album & After Dark Parties

Given that the film festival is offering their online experience for a much-discounted cost, donations are being graciously accepted. A line of merchandise and special compilation record – “Sounds of the Nevada City Album, Volume One” featuring Aaron Ross, Brett Shady, Jessica Lynn & Broken Spoke, and 11 other local musicians – will be available for purchase as well and will aid in ensuring the fest can remain thriving now and in the future. In addition, the events will also serve as a fundraiser for the Nevada County Artist Relief fund. Artists on the album will also participate in a series of “After Dark” concerts that fans can tune in and watch online via Facebook Live or YouTube. Opening night of the Drive-In will feature a live performance by Brett Shady.

—Jesse Locks


WHAT: 20th Annual Nevada City Film Festival

WHERE: Online at Drive-in: Nevada County Fairgrounds, 11228 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley, CA

WHEN: August 28 through September 4, 2020. Drive-in: Gates 6:30 p.m., Film at 7:45 p.m.
TICKETS: Online Festival Pass $35, Industry Online Festival Pass $25, Pay As You Watch Online $8 each. Drive-in: $30 per vehicle with two people, $8 each additional person. Vehicle ticket includes Onyx Concessions Pack of jumbo popcorn with two drinks.


CEA joins Dorsey Marketplace lawsuit challenge

I received this press release this afternoon from Community Environmental Advocates, a “responsible land use and environmental protection group”:

Community Environmental Advocates (CEA) has joined with Protect Grass Valley to challenge the legal adequacy of Grass Valley’s EIR and approval of the Dorsey Marketplace project. The suit was filed on August 3.

Dorsey Marketplace is a proposed 104,000 square foot shopping center with 172 residential apartment units located at Dorsey Drive/Highway 49. It required a general plan amendment and a zone change for approval. It was approved by the Grass Valley City Council on April 28.

On May 26, the City Council removed the only minor condition of approval which would have achieved a partial reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG) and save energy costs for tenants. The requirement was to use electric space and water heating, which could be powered by the rooftop solar.

Flawed Project

♦ Provides no affordable housing. Dorsey Marketplace as approved will include 172 residential apartments, none specified for moderate, low, or very low-income housing. It marks the third major project approved by the City within the last year which includes no affordable housing. And there were no phasing requirements to assure that they would be built anytime soon.

♦ Will negatively impact the economy of our downtowns and existing businesses. The shopping center is a large drive-to project which will impact the success of our downtowns in an era when on-line shopping is taking a big share of the retail market. CEA recommended reducing the scale of the commercial businesses and providing restrictions on the mix of allowable businesses so that it does not compete with the successful entertainment/dining/specialty store focus of our downtowns. We do not need a third downtown.

♦ Does not address climate change. Creates significant traffic impacts. During the hearings, CEA asked that the project address the climate change crisis by including a project-based solar system with electric space and water heating to reduce GHG emissions. We also asked that the developers reduce the overall size of the commercial portion of the development and eliminate the 3 drive-up windows to reduce excessive traffic, a major source of GHG emissions.

♦ Will recast our image as a charming mountain community. Aesthetically, the project would eliminate a forested ridgeline, cutting off 20’ and the existing woodlands, and replace it with massive built up pads (45-60 feet of fill) and vertical structures 20-30 feet tall, plainly visible throughout the valley.

♦ The EIR and the City of Grass Valley, in its approval of the project, did not adequately address these concerns.

CEA advocates for responsible land use and environmental protection policies and actions in Nevada County. Our goal for Nevada County’s future is a thriving community, a strong economy, and a healthy environment. CEA’s parent groups, the Rural Quality Coalition and CLAIM have been working for Nevada County since as far back as 1999.

Who is this group?

Community Environmental Advocates Foundation (CEA Foundation) was formed as a conceptual unification of three local advocacy groups: Rural Quality Coalition (RQC), Citizens Looking At Impacts of Mining (CLAIM-GV), and Citizens Advocating Responsible Development (CARD).

The RQC has often taken positions on development projects and planning issues, as well as promoting more progressive political candidates. Recent work has helped shape more positive outcomes on Loma Rica.

CLAIM was formed to address the impacts of the proposed Idaho-Maryland Mine / Ceramics factory, and ultimately worked to defeat the project due to its environmental impacts. CLAIM also addressed other local mining projects.

More recently, CARD was an ad-hoc group formed to address an expansive zoning text amendment in the Whispering Pines Special Development District. CARD challenged the amendment legally and was successful in getting the City of Grass Valley to reverse its action.

Holbrooke Hotel set to reopen in September

From the blog of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine:

The historic ​Holbrooke Hotel has stood as a landmark along Grass Valley’s Main Street since 1862, serving as a reminder of the city’s colorful origins as a gold mining boom town. Set to reopen in September following a painstaking renovation led by a team of local designers, craftsmen, and builders, the Holbrooke is being transformed into a true icon of California history and hospitality.

Upon reopening, the 28-room Holbrooke will bring an elevated and timeless guest experience to the Sierra Nevada region, which is famous for its charming small towns, beautiful scenery and abundant outdoor adventures.

Throughout its history, the Holbrooke has seen it all: gambling and gun fights, fortunes made and lost, five U.S. presidents, and maybe even a haunting or two. In keeping with its status as one of California’s oldest hotels, every effort has been made to honor the original spirit of the hotel, which has hosted the likes of Mark Twain, Ulysses S Grant, and Lola Montez.

“I am so proud of the passion and dedication our team has put into restoring the Holbrooke. I believe that the finished product will be a source of great pride for the local community while welcoming a new generation of visitors to experience the beauty of Nevada County.” said Sherry Villanueva, managing partner of ​Acme Hospitality​, which has spearheaded the renovation and will operate the hotel.

During the transformation of the Holbrooke — which has been more than two years in the making — the project team, helmed by lead designer Anne L’Esperance, uncovered and restored countless details that had been neglected during the hotel’s long history, including vintage lighting fixtures and underground tunnels used for transporting gold through town.

The rest of the article is here.

—By Andy Keown,

(Photo: Kat Alves)

S.F. Giants fan cutouts

“Be in the ballpark this season – sort of. While fans can’t attend games at Oracle Park in person, your image can still be in a seat! For $99, select a seat and upload a smiling photo of yourself wearing your Giants gear. Then look for yourself in the stands while watching Giants games on television.

“At the conclusion of the 2020 season, you can take your cutout home! Your MLB authenticated game-used cutout will be available for pick up at Oracle Park (cutouts cannot be mailed).”

More details here.

“You can’t stop us”

“You Can’t Stop Us” — Nike’s latest viral ad — features a collective of everyday and elite athletes, including Megan Rapinoe, LeBron James, Naomi Osaka, Eliud Kipchoge, Caster Semenya, Cristiano Ronaldo, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Serena Williams, Colin Kaepernick and Kylian Mbappé.

“Narrated by Megan Rapinoe, the spot celebrates sport as a source of inspiration. Its action shares a dynamic split screen series detailing 36 pairings of athletes and relating the kinetic movement of one sport to another. Developed through research of more than 4,000 pieces of footage, the resulting montage underscores commonalities shared by athletes around the world,” according to Nike. 

The cult of selfishness is killing America

“America’s response to the coronavirus has been a lose-lose proposition,” Paul Krugman writes this weekend in The New York Times.

“The Trump administration and governors like Florida’s Ron DeSantis insisted that there was no trade-off between economic growth and controlling the disease, and they were right — but not in the way they expected.

“Premature reopening led to a surge in infections: Adjusted for population, Americans are currently dying from Covid-19 at around 15 times the rate in the European Union or Canada. Yet the “rocket ship” recovery Donald Trump promised has crashed and burned: Job growth appears to have stalled or reversed, especially in states that were most aggressive about lifting social distancing mandates, and early indications are that the U.S. economy is lagging behindthe economies of major European nations.

“So we’re failing dismally on both the epidemiological and the economic fronts. But why?”

The rest of the column is here.

The Union gets suckered into touting the “lone no vote” on Page One

“The lone member of the Nevada Joint Union High School District board who opposed distance learning for the school year’s start lambasted the decision Thursday, saying some families won’t have the ability to fully participate,” The Union is reporting breathlessly.

One. Lone. Vote. Yet this is the leading, front-page article. It was a simple assignment: Just show up a a press conference (the oldest trick in the p.r. book).

You have to hand it to Eric Christian: He’s been playing The Union like a violin.

The Union would better serve its readers by getting out of the office and interviewing parents, teachers and administrators — instead of showing up at press conferences attended by 30 people (AKA “dog and pony” shows).

It is lazy reporting, and worse, misleading.

Tahoe: State of the Lake Report

“Today, the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center released its annual Tahoe: State of the Lake Report. The report informs the public about important factors affecting the health of Lake Tahoe. It also intends to provide the scientific underpinnings for ecosystem restoration and management decisions within the Lake Tahoe Basin,” as UC Davis is reporting.

“The report summarizes data collected in 2019 as part of the center’s ongoing, decades-long measurement programs, while also presenting current research on emerging issues.

“Highlights of the report include:

weather and climate change

“Climate change at Lake Tahoe is evident in long-term trends, which show rising air temperatures and less precipitation falling as snow. But weather-wise, 2019 was a cold year. The average air temperature in February was 4.4 degrees F lower than the long-term average, making it the coldest February since 1956. In July, the average surface water temperature of 68 degrees F was about 4 degrees cooler in 2019 than in 2017. 

“In 2019, precipitation was a foot higher than the average for the past 110 years, with February also being the wettest month of the year. 

“Despite the cooler year, the long-term climate trends are increasing the length of the warmer months and impacting clarity.


“Clarity at Lake Tahoe, as reported earlier this summer, was mixed in 2019. Lake clarity decreased nearly 8 feet from the previous year’s dramatic 10-foot improvement. The average annual value in 2019 was 62.7 feet. The lowest value was recorded in 2017, when clarity was 60 feet.

Nutrients and algae

“Along with above average precipitation, nitrogen and phosphorus loads from the Upper Truckee River were above average, yet well below the record loads from 2017.  

“Attached algae (periphyton) on rocks around the lake were heavy in 2019, especially on the California side of the lake. Notably, Nevada’s Zephyr Cove showed its second highest value on record. 

“TERC and its partners are exploring remote sensing techniques to track both periphyton and free-floating metaphyton algae, an effort the public can help with through the Citizen Science Tahoe App.

Mysis shrimp

“A clearer picture of the impact of invasive Mysis shrimp on lake health and clarity is emerging, the report says. While research is underway, the available data suggest that tiny shrimp introduced to the lake in the 1960s were responsible for the removal of Daphnia, native zooplankton that helped clean the lake. Without Daphnia, tiny algae called Cyclotellagrew unchecked, and fine sediments accumulated. Climate change exacerbates the problem, as a warmer lake surface encourages tiny particles to stay afloat and reduce Tahoe’s famed clarity. 

Lake physics and safe paddleboarding 

“This year’s report also has tips for paddleboarders based on physics: Be wary of the day after strong wind events, as there may be strong currents and icy water on the side of the lake where the wind came from. Computer simulations show how warm surface waters are pushed downwind during upwelling events while cold water rises from the depths, posing a risky situation for paddleboarders suddenly caught in what can be 42-degree F water. ” 

The rest of the article is here.