A film festival next month in Mancos will benefit former employees of Western Excelsior Corp. who have been impacted by the fire that destroyed the mill on May 8.
Mancos-based Alpacka Raft is working with the nonprofit Mancos Valley Resources to present the Mancos Valley River Film Festival, which will take place July 15 at 6 p.m. at the Mancos Opera House, 136 W. Grand Ave.
The event will showcase films about river adventures and conservation, said event organizer Lizzy Scully, of Alpacka Raft.
“We just want to make it a fun film festival,” Scully said. “It’s out of our desire to give back to the local community.”
Alpacka Raft staffers had planned to start an annual film festival to benefit local nonprofit organizations in 2018, Scully said. After the Western Excelsior fire destroyed the mill and put dozens of people out of work, Alpacka decided the festival needed to start this year, Scully said.
Tickets for the festival are $20 in advance or $25 at the Opera House, which can seat 350 people. Scully said organizers hope raise about $10,000.
All the proceeds for the event will be donated to the Mancos FoodShare and Mancos Pay It Forward Fund, and the donated funds will be earmarked for people affected by the Western Excelsior fire, Mancos Valley Resources President Tami Graham said.
Mancos FoodShare provides food and commodities to people in need in the Mancos Valley. The Pay It Forward Fund provides financial support for those in need. Mancos Valley Resources is an umbrella group that oversees several smaller non-profits in the Mancos area, including the FoodShare and Pay It Forward.
Graham said she is glad Mancos had the two aid groups set up before the fire, because people affected by the fire were able to get aid quickly. Since the fire, though, the FoodShare and Pay It Forward Fund have been depleted financially, so the film festival will help the groups continue to help people, Graham said.
“This has the potential to be a great annual event to highlight this great company in Alpacka Rafts, but also to be an ongoing support to our community,” Graham said.
Scully said the films featured will mostly be short, from three to 20 minutes in length. Organizers are still trying to find one feature-length film to show, she said. There will be two hours of film viewing with a break in between, according to the festival’s website. Several films will be making their American debut at the Mancos Valley River Film Festival, Scully said. One of those debutantes will be a bikepacking film from New Zealand called “Waiau-Tau Odyssey.”
A silent auction also will be held during the festival, and organizers are seeking donations for auction items, Scully said.
Alpacka Raft CEO Thor Tingey said in an email that the company wanted to get into high gear this summer to help the dozens of people who were put out of work at the fire.
“That magnitude of loss for Montezuma County is significant, and we felt we should act immediately to support the people who lost their jobs,” Tingey said.