"Stories of the Yuba" stands solidly as a travelogue. More than that, it flows clear and alive with respect and hope. It deserves to be seen outside Nevada County, but inside the county in Nevada City, on Sunday at 7:30 p.m., is a chance to say, "Hey, whaddya say we go to the Nevada Theatre and really listen to our heartbeat for an hour or so."
Local filmmaker Gregg Schiffner will be there to interact with the audience about his film. This homage to the Yuba River has been shown a few times before, but he's christening its appearance on DVD. He's showing it on the big screen to the people who live in Yuba territory, and maybe to a few folks visiting Nevada County, because they understand something about the Yuba.
There's some politics laced through "Stories of the Yuba," but it is not as heavy as millions of tons of hydraulic mine tailings or as constipating as millions of tons of concrete dam projects. No, the soulful calm of "Stories of the Yuba" ripples from the middle of the film to soften its more postured beginning and end. Mostly, this film is a heartfelt time to nod your head about 39 miles of crystal water and swimming holes, about time-smoothed rock and steep terrain, about floating and diving and kayaking and lolling, about fish and flakes of gold to reel in, about poetry and painting and music and mind. About the spirit of sustenance.
"We drink from the same well," the movie tells us in one of its captions. It's a watershed experience. Watershed is the term "Stories of the Yuba" explains, to connect little us to everything nearabouts and farther around.
Did you ever dip your hands into a river and try to hang on to the water? Watching "Stories of the Yuba," you are reminded that it's worth a try. 'Cause "if you can hang on to water, you can hang on to the world."