Mountainfilm is an annual international film festival that focuses on adventure, culture and the environment. It has taken place annually since 1979 over Memorial Day weekend in Telluride, Colorado.
In addition to screening films (mostly non-fiction), the festival offers a full-day symposium on a large issue (such as energy, food, or climate), and includes art exhibits, author talks and book signings, student workshops, and serves as a meeting place for other nonprofit organizations that are aligned with Mountainfilm’s programming and mission (“dedicated to educating and inspiring audiences about issues that matter, cultures worth exploring, environments worth preserving and conversations worth sustaining.”)
In 2000, Mountainfilm started a traveling program, screening films in locations other than Telluride. This program now reaches 125 international locations including last weekend’s visit to the community of Mill Valley, CA for the 3rd annual Adventure Documentary Festival. Co-presented with the Throckmorton Theatre, the Festival featured 3 days’ of films along with filmmaker Q & A led by Mountainfilm Executive Director, David Holbrooke.
It was an outstanding event – I spent much of the weekend in Mill Valley, attending 7 of the 8 film programs with over 40 films. Following are comments on several of the films:
14.C (9 mins). A warm portrait of a skilled teenage rock climber, Kai Lightner, who happens to be black and lives where challenging rocks are rare. His mother’s comments illuminate the choices they’re facing.
64 MPH (4 mins). Just outside of Telluride, a local “ripper” is challenged by a backcountry couloir.
A Life Well Lived (4 mins). Jim Whittaker, the first American to summit Mt. Everest (in 1963), reflects on what makes a life well lived. A personal favorite.
Catch It (10 mins). Surfing in northern Norway? Yes, made attractive in this modest yet compelling film featuring nomad surfer, Lea Brassy.
Emptying the Skies (78 mins. Q&A with a protagonist in Milan was Skyped in). Chronicles attempts to slow the rampant poaching of migratory songbirds in Europe, where millions are taken (illegally) annually. The film follows an intrepid squad of bird-sympathizers who are waging a semi-secret war against poachers. By turns, disheartening, educational, and encouraging. For more, see CABS – Committee Against Bird Slaughter and/or The New Yorker.
High Tension (36 mins, Q & A with co-director Nick Rosen). Balanced presentation of the unfortunate and ugly 2013 incident in which Sherpas who were fixing a line became infuriated with an independent climber. Rocks and punches were thrown and an ambitious climb was truncated. The incident also spawned New Yorker articles and took on a new dimension the following year when an avalanche killed 16 Sherpas.
Spice Girl (25 mins, Co-director Nick Rosen in attendance). Portrait of Hazel Findlay, a youthful, lady climber, as she strives to summit a vertical seaside cliff in the U.K.
The Fortune Wild (22 mins). Three surfing buddies interact joyfully with the coast of Haida Gwaii, a chain of beautiful islands off the north coast of British Columbia.
The Grand Rescue (53 mins, Q & A with co-director Meredith Lavitt). Story of a 1967 rescue of two climbers on the Grand Teton. Archival images and credible re-created scenes lend authenticity. Contemporary footage of the participants, featuring the now very accomplished rescuers, conveys the 3 day effort with unabashed candor.
Toy Train in Space (3 mins). Dad & son send a personable toy train 18 miles into space and then recover it. Cute train, boy, & story line have led to over 4.7 million YouTube views!
Valley Uprising (98 minutes, Co-director Nick Rosen in attendance for Q&A). This film presents a history of climbing in Yosemite Valley – it combines archival photos and moving images with contemporary interviews to illuminate the legendary climbers who found irresistible challenges in Yosemite’s granite.
Wedge (4 mins). A visually arresting film narrowly focused on Newport Beach, CA’s famous coastal configuration, The Wedge. Footage of irrepressible surfers, bodyboarders, and bodysurfers finding challenges in the big and fast breaking surf.
I can safely say Mountainfilm patrons are already looking forward to its next iteration.