Environmental Film Fest

Schiff's 15th Annual Environmental Film Festival

Independent, Inspiring Films in our Woodland Theatre

Saturday, June 1, 2024

In the event of rain, the Film Festival will occur on Sunday, June 2
Wood Badge Lodge, 339 Pleasant Valley Road, Mendham, NJ
Use 339 Schiff Drive in Your GPS to Arrive at the Nature Center
Schiff Environmental Film Festival

Welcome to Schiff's 15th annual Environmental Film Festival! A true community event, the festival allows us to explore the preserve in a unique manner. Each year, we strive to show inspiring environmental films, offer a venue for community to gather, raise funds for Schiff, and promote learning and discussion of important environmental issues.

The night of the festival, the Wood Badge Lodge is transformed into a wonderful Woodland Theatre. With the fire pit lit, the picnic benches and seating strewn around the fire, we enjoy catching up with our film festival friends and visitors as we wait for dusk to arrive. Schiff provides the hayride, the alfresco movie experience, seating, popcorn, and water. You are welcome to bring a picnic dinner, beverages, and a friend or two for a special evening meant to broaden our reach, make new friends and members, and raise funds to support the mission of Schiff Natural Lands Trust. In the event of rain, the festival will be held the following day, Sunday, June 2 at the exact same time.

Environmental Film Festival New Jersey

  • 6:30 pm - Check in begins at the Nature Center/Self-Guided Hikes to the Woodland Theatre
  • 6:45 pm - Hayride to the Woodland Theatre
  • 7:00- 7:30 pm - BYOPicnic, Fire Pit, & (40th Anniversary) Trivia Time
  • 7:30 pm - Welcome & Intro of Guest Speaker, Director, Scott Morris
  • 7:45 pm - Feature Movie
  • 9:00 pm - Hayride tractor and hikers will depart to return to the Nature Center

"A fantastic voyage through America's past and present, from its breathtaking, unspoiled beginnings to its growth as a global industrial power - all along a frequently overlooked river." - Bill Westhoven, Reporter, USA Today

Member Ticket: $20
Membership and EFF Ticket Bundle: $65
Non-member Ticket: $25
Student/Senior (65+) Ticket: $15

This Year's Featured Film: AMERICAN RIVER

American River Film

Mary Bruno spent her childhood fearing the polluted stretch of the Passaic River near her home. Decades later, she returns to rediscover the river of her youth. AMERICAN RIVER is a cinematic adventure that follows Ms. Bruno and river guide Carl Alderson on a 4-day, 80-mile kayak journey from the Passaic's pristine headwaters to its toxic mouth in Newark Bay. Along the way, candid conversations with residents, experts and advocates reveal the Passaic's extraordinary history, geology, and ecology: How did this powerful and once-celebrated river become one of the most contaminated in America? Can it be saved?

Three years in the making, AMERICAN RIVER was directed by seasoned filmmaker Scott Morris and based on Ms. Bruno's 2012 book, An American River: From Paradise to Superfund. Like the book, the film is a unique blend of personal memoir, adventure, history, and science. Mary and Carl explore the Passaic's beauty, navigate its many twists and turns, pass through cities including Paterson and Great Falls and visit Mary's hometown as they head towards the industrial disaster that poisoned the Passaic for the past 60 years. The entire journey was captured in both grand and intimate scale from the water, land, and air by an experienced crew with ten 4K cameras. Mary and Carl's dynamic personalities bring insight, urgency, and humor to every scene. An original score, graphic animation and rare archival images enrich the story. S. Dillard Kirby is Executive Producer; AMERICAN RIVER is his second film project with Scott Morris.


American River Trailer

Special Guest and Discussion Facilitator

Scott MorrisScott Morris - Producer / Director / Editor
Scott is an accomplished independent filmmaker based in the New York/New Jersey area for 40 years. Recent work includes Saving The Great Swamp: Battle to Defeat The Jetport currently distributed by American Public Television, and From The Ashes: The Life and Times of Tick Hall, also distributed by APT and featuring talk-show host Dick Cavett. American River is his first feature-length documentary. For more info, visit www.scottmorrisproductions.com.

Many people in urban areas are disconnected from nature, and many films about the natural world are filmed in exotic faraway places. I was drawn to the idea of making a film about a subject that was literally in my own backyard. I live a few blocks from the Passaic River yet knew nothing about it. How could the obscure waterway I'd cross multiple times while driving with my family in different parts of the state be the same river? Depending on where I was, I'd catch glimpses of it flowing in different directions through the cluttered landscape of houses, towns, and cities. There must be several Passaic Rivers, I thought. And no one seemed to know anything about it... ...Until I read Mary Bruno's 2012 book, An American River: From Paradise to Superfund. My vision for AMERICAN RIVER would bring together the story of Mary's Bruno's highly personal journey with our mutual love of nature, concern about the environment, and themes of loss and healing I've explored in all my work. She loved the idea of working together on a film and our collaboration grew. I was thrilled to be out on the river during the months of scouting and filming the kayak trip and delighted when Mary and Carl's friendship and dynamic personalities bloomed as the cameras started rolling. Capturing their can-do attitude, sharp observations and humor adds a wonderful layer to the film's urgent story and gives voice to my optimistic point-of-view. Despite its darker aspects, the film is after all a story of joy, wonder and hope. I invite audiences to discover and celebrate the Passaic River along with me through my experience making this film.

In the event of rain, the Film Festival will occur on Sunday, June 2

Please note: The name used when purchasing tickets will be the name listed on the event roster. We do not issue physical tickets.

Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors, recognized below, the proceeds from this event help Schiff in its education, stewardship, and conservation mission. Please join us in thanking them by supporting their businesses!

If you're interested in becoming a sponsor for this event, please complete the sponsor form and return it to info@schiffnaturepreserve.org by May 15, 2024.

Summit Soundz
Backer Farm, Mendham NJ
Mikula Web Solutions
Breakaway Prep, Mendham NJ
Headquarters Financial Group
Bailey Funeral Home