Mountainfilm Blogs: July 2012

Bill McKibben's Most Important Work: Climate Change Numbers That Can't Be Ignored

Frequent Mountainfilm in Telluride guest Bill McKibben recently wrote a piece for Rolling Stone Magazine that he considers the most important thing he has written in 20 years. The piece re-contextualizes the way we look at the carbon we put in the air and how it affects our climate.

Mongolian Resources: Extraction vs. Conservation

Sometimes it seems that the planet is being increasingly divided between forces that want to extract and exploit resources and those that want to conserve them. This conflict is only growing more pronounced as increased needs for energy, minerals and other resources, lead to extraction and development in places where it has never occurred before.

Mongolia, once a distant and exotic land, is now experiencing a land rush as multinational corporations descend on it, trying to get their shovels into its rich and virgin ground. This has created a local redistribution of wealth as some Mongolians get on the money train, while others are decidedly left standing. As this article in The New York Times suggests, Mongolia needs to manage this transition thoughtfully or else it will end up like Nigeria with severe societal schisms and dislocations.

'Lost Boys': The Second Generation

With an ongoing civil war and countless atrocities being committed on a daily basis, Sudan — more than almost any other country in the world — seems to be particularly steeped in tragedy. As The New York Times reports, this is creating a second generation of Lost Boys.

Mountainfilm 2009 guest Nick Kristof has also written extensively about this issue.

Another former Mountainfilm guest has dedicated his life to this issue. Tomo Kriznar was at the festival in 2001 with his film, Nuba: Pure People about the peaceful Nuban people, and he has continued to follow the story.

Prudence and The Domino Effect: How Mountainfilm Makes a Difference

Says Prudence Mabhena, “In Zimbabwe, when a disabled child is born, the family thinks, ‘Oh, here comes a burden.” From that unlikely start, rose a star, and the award-winning Music by Prudence tells that tale with a soundtrack that resonates on many levels. Beyond her musical story, however, runs a parallel tale, which Prudence shared at Mountainfilm in Telluride in 2011. Watch Prudence share this story, which we at Mountainfilm also call The Domino Effect.

If Mountainfilm has affected or impacted your life, please share your story with us.

Wrap with Care: Condoms to Stop Extinction

In 2009, the Center for Biological Diversity, an organization dedicated to stopping the extinction of rare plants and animals in the world, started handing out condoms with rhyming environmental slogans on the wrappers. Condoms to prevent extinction? Exactly.

At Mountainfilm’s 2012 Moving Mountains Symposium, keynote speaker Paul Ehrlich presented this overarching message: Population and consumption are inseparable. In 2011, the human population passed the 7 billion mark, and the consumption of humans drives the major environmental problems that plague the planet. From climate change to species extinction, humans with our endless appetite for resources, are at the heart of the problem.

Helium Stockpiles Sink: Mismanaged or Misued?

Will helium balloons soon be a relic of the past like typewriters or the eight-track? A shortage of helium has forced distributors to ration it, and balloons are at the bottom of the receiving list. Party balloon prices have risen, and some shops no longer sell them at all. 

As helium runs low, the impact is bigger than just party balloons. The inert gas has extreme melting and boiling points, which makes it important in science. The physicists who may have found the Higgs boson particle, the “God particle,” use helium in their research. Helium is also used in MRI machines, welding, ship building and in the making of microchips and fiber optic cable. Another important purpose is that, in its liquid form, helium can help prevent nuclear reactors from overheating.

How could the second most abundant element in the universe run out? Most helium bleeds out into space, where it’s abundant (unlike on earth), and the global demand for helium has exploded because of technology manufacturing.

Kayaking and Creativity: Still Evolving

It's not easy to make a compelling film about climbing or skiing, but of all the adventure pursuits producing high-quality films about kayaking may be the hardest. The sport itself is inherently challenging to film, and the shooting locations are often remote waterways with few stable platforms upon which to place a camera. Go-Pro helmet cameras have certainly helped give audiences a closer look at what is happening on the water, but kayak films are still evolving.

Success in Kakuma: Another Report from Kenya

Stash Wislocki, the producer of Mountainfilm in Telluride, is in Kenya right now with FilmAid. This is his second installment from his experience. (Read his first report from Kakuma Refugee Camp.)

We left Kakuma Refugee Camp this morning after an intense two weeks of helping the FilmAid students and staff produce the 2012 FilmAid Kakuma Film Festival. By all accounts, it was a success.

At night, we moved about, screening films in the different camps. The students worked hard, and it paid off with fantastic shows and great attendance. Everyone loved the student films. These screenings left me impressed by the powerful impact of FilmAid's work.