02/23/2011 05:34 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Northern California Film Fest Opens the Floodgates on Water Issues (VIDEO)

If the Sundance Film Festival crawled under the covers with Northern California's Mill Valley Film Festival and decided to go ecosexual, the result might look like The Geography of Hope Film Festival (GOHFF). Breathtaking in its attempts to raise not just environmental awareness but an inner knowing that it's up to human beings to take swift social responsibility, GOHFF is a refreshing surprise.

That it's daring, too, well, that's another goodie--it's a savvy albeit wet mix of poli-enviro-evangelical tittilations. The fest unfolds the weekend of Feb. 25-27 in lush Marin, California, at The Dance Palace in Point Reyes Station, but I suspect its ripple effects will be felt long after. And quite frankly, this soiree could be used as a stellar example of how impactful smaller, locally-bred film fests can be.

Here's why: This is all part of the third Geography of Hope Conference (March 18-20), which, in and of itself, is a gutsy endeavor--it's now one of Northern Cal's more renowned literary and art events, thanks, in part, to masterminds like former Poet Laureate Robert Hass, poet Brenda Hillman, whose creative energy helped infused the outing. Hello--get on board people. Read up. This is such juicy, mentally stimulating work.

I discovered, too, that Point Reyes Books and film fest illuminattis Jane Sullivan and Paul Mueller were a few of the titans behind the actual launching of this movie round-up, and what may stand out the most, of course, is the theme of this year's conference, overall: "Reflections on Water."

Water, water, water.

To that end, all GOHFF films boast water-related issues, all in an effort to accentuate significant issues--from the environmental to political advocacy. Many of the screenings boast thought-provoking discussions by filmmakers and panels scientists, environmentalists, entertainers, artists and adventurers.

The opening night film, The River Why, stars William Devane, Zach Gilford and Kathleen Quinlan. Think of it as a curious, artful outing that reveals through water metaphors a young man's search for self-discovery in the Oregon wilderness.

Actually, opening night looks downright festive all around.

The Reverend Billy, whose marvelous blend of theater and spiritual hoopla has made his "Church of Living After Shopping" a prominent force in today's alt-hungry culture, is expected to deliver a fiery "water sermon"--always a hoot, that Rev. B.

Other notable films at this fest--those you should keep on your radar throughout the rest of year and/or ask your local film fest directors to consider including them in your town's fest: Running Dry--Beyond The Brink, Greenlit (a doc which follows the production of The River Why), a series of films about "Women and Water," a provocative outing about Antartica (Encounters at the End of the World) and the world premiere of the Mexican film A River Runs Through Us.

Check out the entire roster--quite impressive--here.

The outing's panel discussions are groovy, too. One in particular, "To Change the World: Art, Ecosexuality and Environmental Evangelism," hosts quite a wild collection of minds--from Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens to artists Judith Shelby Lang and Richard Lang. Rev. Billy and others partake.

For a peek at The River Why, dive into the video below.

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