A free monthly newspaper
serving the local community

Contact us
Archived Stories
By Karen Newell Young
Filmmaker zooms in on Nevada City
Seattle filmmaker John de Graaf has made some 40 documentaries for a variety of outlets, including Wild & Scenic Film Festival and public television stations.

In about a year, he and producer Jennifer Ekstrom, a Nevada City resident, plan to complete “Town Between Two Worlds,” a movie on Nevada City they hope to enter in the 2018 Wild & Scenic festival.

“I have been so personally inspired by the folks here,” said de Graaf, a frequent visitor to Nevada City. “In this small town, folks are doing so many things in moving toward sustainability and stewardship”.

“I’ve met so many amazing people here. It’s an inspiration to so many towns, particularly regarding quality of life,” he said.

De Graaf said Nevada City began 165 years ago as a town for people who wanted to get rich quick during the Gold Rush. But as its history unfolded, “people came to the town not to get rich but for quality of life,” he said.
Fifteen of de Graaf’s films, including “Affluenza,” “Buyer Be Fair” and “Silent Killer” have aired on public TV and six documentaries have screened at the Wild & Scenic festivals since 2006. The festival has also named an annual award after him: The John de Graaf Environmental Filmmaking Award.
“I first came to this town in 2006 and have come for all but two or three Wild & Scenic festivals ever since”.

Last spring de Graaf, Ekstrom and their company started interviewing well-known leaders and residents for “Town Between Two Worlds.”
This month they will return to talk to several more residents to capture the reason they call Nevada City home. They expect the film to wrap in about a year and be ready for screening in the 2018 festival.

“We’re not trying to present Nevada City as Utopia,” de Graaf said. “There are concerns about homelessness, fire dangers and political strife. But here is a place to build community and environmental stewardship. It’s a hopeful but honest look at a town that has a lot going for it.”

Among the many residents interviewed for the film are Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder, former mayor Reinette Senum, Sierra Harvest co-director Malaika Bishop, Jordan Fisher Smith, author of “Engineering Eden,” historian Hank Meals and artist Mike Snegg.

For more information on “Town Between Two Worlds” and how donate money to the documentary, visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/town-between-two-worlds-a-documentary-film-community.
Greg Davis, director of photography, local author Jordan Fisher Smith, and filmmaker John de Graaf discuss a shot for“Town Between Two Worlds.”
Photo by Jennifer Ekstrom