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Wilder than Wild: Fire, Forests, and the Future cover image

Wilder than Wild: Fire, Forests, and the Future 2018

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Filmmakers Collaborative Inc., 397 Moody St, Waltham, MA 02453; 781-647-1102
Produced by Kevin White and Stephen Most
Directed by Kevin White
Streaming, 57 mins

Middle School - General Adult
Documentaries; Environmentalism; Global Warming

Date Entered: 02/12/2020

Reviewed by Amanda McCormick, Sr. Asst. Librarian and Liaison Librarian to Chemistry and Physics, University at Buffalo, State University of New York

Wilder than Wildexplores the impact of the recent mega-fires that have destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of forest in California. After opening with a sobering scroll listing the names of those Californian wildfires, the film explains how these large-scale events are created by a combination of climate change and an overabundance of fuel build-up on the forest floor. The fire that ravaged the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Tuolumne and Mariposa counties in 2013 is profiled, with a focus on its effect on the surrounding community.

The film then transitions smoothly into an in-depth and well-done discussion of climate change and fire management policies. For instance, a member of a local Native American tribe shares how it was a common practice to set controlled burns to keep fuel build-up on the forest floor in check. The film presents thoughtful profiles of the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Park Service, groups that are often interchangeable in the public’s view, but which are charged with quite different missions. In recent years, the U.S. Forest Service has transitioned from viewing fire as a threat to commodities (i.e., trees) to adopting controlled burn policies in order to protect greater tracts of forested land. Yet the film describes how even controlled burning – with its potential to limit the size of future fires by decreasing fuel – releases carbon into the atmosphere and contributes to global warming. Just when you think your heart will break, the film highlights a community partnership between the local Yurok Tribe and Cal Fire, aimed at restoring and balancing the forest ecosystem. Solutions, the film hopes, will be found in these community partnerships.

The website provides screening information and action recommendations. The film is highly recommended with reservations. There is live footage of the Wine Country fires of 2017, which may be upsetting to some viewers.


Green Fire Award, SF Green Film Festival; Grand Festival Award - Environmental Documentary, Berkeley Film and Video Festival