Mountainfilm Blogs: September 2012

Lineup Announced for Mountainfilm in New York

New York, NY (September, 2012) – The Film Society of Lincoln Center announced today the lineup for the 2012 Mountainfilm series, which runs from October 19-21. For the third year, Mountainfilm in Telluride comes to New York, bringing with it the energy of the outdoors and the power of movies that matter, plus live appearances, conversations and special performances. The series kicks off with award-winning Chasing Ice, where photographer James Balog documents the disappearance of glaciers in extraordinary time-lapse images, while battling faulty equipment, a bad knee and existential questions about our own uncertain future. Tickets are now on sale!

It’s All about the Bike: A Dispatch from Brazil

Sao Paulo, Brazil is a recent addition to Mountainfilm on Tour. Under Tour Director Henry Lystad, the world tour’s calendar and reach is expanding. He recently sent Mountainfilm in Telluride festival director David Holbrooke to Brazil for the second year of Mountainfilm in Sao Paulo. Here’s Holbrooke’s dispatch:

Stuff: The Solution is not for Sale

During the Stone Age, Homo habilis apparently created and used tools. It could be argued that this was the beginning of man’s affinity for stuff. Tools were, and are, valuable and worth carting around from place to place. Speaking of carting, it’s stuff that was the impetus behind the invention of the wheel in the late Neolithic era. Wheels were used to make pottery — ahem, more stuff — and to build horse-driven chariots to carry stuff.

While tools and wheels are pretty fundamental items, many of the things we purchase today are not as necessary. At Mountainfilm in Telluride 2012, we showed Living Tiny, a film about downsizing living spaces. In it, one character says, “ People like having lots of stuff, Americans in particular. Ultimately, you can only occupy 12 square feet of space at a time. Everything else is just a place to keep your stuff.”

Emancipation's Anniversary: More People are Enslaved Today

On September 22, 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. One hundred fifty years later — as attendees at Mountainfilm in Telluride know —there are actually more people enslaved than during the Civil War.

Author and abolitionist Ben Skinner first educated festival audiences on the issue of modern-day slavery when he spoke about his book, A Crime So Monstrous, at Mountainfilm 2008. The issue attracted mainstream media after a 2009 episode of “Law and Order”called Chattel (which was inspired by Mountainfilm) and an episode of “Larry King Live.”

What Motivates Companies to Make Environmental Choices? The Bottom Line

Without a federal cap-and-trade program or a national clean energy standard, why do some companies evaluate and reveal their environmental impact? Because it makes good business sense. The “triple bottom line” — which measures success with an eye toward finances, the environment and social impact — is beginning to merge with the plain old bottom line. Saving money means increasing efficiency, and increasing efficiency leads to better environmental decisions.

This trend is seen with such companies as FedEx, which has announced environmental targets to lower emissions. Similarly, UPS is trimming its jet fuel use. Lessening fuel consumption, for both companies, improves the bottom line. Businesses that take such steps are often lauded for their environmental awareness, but does the bottom line — even as it now blends with the triple bottom line — deserve kudos?

Elephant Poaching in Africa: The Underground Ivory Trade

Andrew Dobson, an ecologist at Princeton, asks a poignant question in a recent New York Times article on elephant poaching in Africa. The question is: “Do you want your children to grow up in a world without elephants?”

Whether it’s armed Congolese, Ugandan and Sudanese soldiers, or poor Tanzanian villagers who poison pumpkins to kill elephants, an unprecedented poaching epidemic is prevalent throughout Africa. The vicious killings are mostly driven by a growing Chinese middle class and their intense desire for ivory, which now sells for $1,000 per pound in Beijing.