Mountainfilm Blog

Mountainfilm's blog has evolved quickly and steadily to become the engine that drives This steady current of images, words and action carry global news about Mountainfilm themes, issues and personalities. Please join in the conversation, and let us know what you think about the cultural, environmental and socio-political issues and  heroes of adventure and activism that we highlight.

#mfilm14 Primer

Whether you’re new to Mountainfilm in Telluride this year or a veteran with decades of festival stories, listen up. The following tips and new additions might just make the difference between a good weekend and the best weekend…ever.

Tip 1 (for everyone): We suggest you make a general plan by first reading all the film synopses and presentations. Take note of what interests you, and then check out the schedule to see when those films and presentations happen. While you’re looking at the schedule, also note the events (parties, art exhibitions, book signings, Coffee Talks, etc.) that you want to attend.

Tip 2 (for everyone): Telluride’s theaters, as with most venues, offer a wide range of seating capacity. If you want to get into one of the smaller theaters, be sure to show up extra early to get a queue. Theater seats: Palm 600, High Camp 500, Sheridan 230, Nugget 186, Masons 120 and Library 65.

Climate Change through the Eyes of a Climate Artist

 the late 1990s, while my brother, Cameron, was assistant director of 
Mountainfilm, I was a regular. So I’m excited to return after 
more than a decade’s hiatus, and it’s fortuitous that the word in the 
air this year is “wilderness.” Cameron wrote his senior college paper 
on the Wilderness Act, perhaps inspired by a class we both took with the legendary philosopher-turned-environmental-historian Bill Cronon. Cronon taught us how our mental concept of 
wilderness and nature affected how we manifest ourselves on the 
landscape, whether we were conscious of it or not.

 year was 1988, and climate change wasn’t yet on my radar. In fact, it 
was just stepping onto the public stage. The IPCC was formed that year, 
and Jim Hansen gave his now-historical first testimony on climate change
 before the U.S. Senate. A year later, Bill McKibben published the first 
book on the subject for the general public, The End of Nature,
 in which he pointed out the surreal realization that an 
untouched nature wasn’t possible anymore, now that we’ve changed the 

The Beauty of Creating

In this world there are creators and consumers. I have always had mentors who told me that it is better to create than to consume, no matter what the creation. Whether it’s words or images, creating something is to give, to provide inspiration, even lessons, to others and to share with the global community. In creating, you are more closely connected with those around you, your work influencing and shaping the thoughts of others.

But sometimes I have to remind myself that I am a creator. Many of my friends work in the film industry, creating tangible things, and I have been known to doubt my own abilities. This probably happens to any creative, no matter what their field.

Protecting Wilderness: The Highest Act of Self-Respect

Something within us yearns to know the unbroken portions of a map, those areas not crisscrossed by roads or even foot trails. Similarly, we yearn to know which bird sings so sweetly from high in the forest, which plants feed the mule deer, or where the bear by the lake sleeps in winter. This world of mystery anchors the lives of all species, ours included.

I never thought about wilderness as a child. We grew beefsteak tomatoes and crookneck squash in our Tennessee garden, caught crawdads and turtles in the creek and spent hours climbing our respective branches of the sprawling mimosa tree, counting its seeds like money. My Brooklyn-raised father thought wilderness was an empty lot down the street from his brownstone where he played stick ball with his friends.

Show Everyone Your Heart: An Interview with Animator Jilli Rose

Who, or what, inspires you and how does that translate into your work?

Two Fathers of Fame

Growing up as the son of two of the world’s most renowned alpine and high-altitude mountaineers has been no ordinary childhood. My father, Alex Lowe, was off in the mountains more of than he was around me. On October 4, 1990, seven days before my second birthday, he became the fortieth American to reach the summit of Mount Everest successfully. I flew to Thailand with my mother to meet him, making my first intercontinental travel as a two year old.

I’ve gotten used to meeting people and them asking, “Lowe, like Alex Lowe, the climber?” As I move through life, I’m continually amazed by the people who knew my father and looked up to him, not only for his prowess as a climber, but for his integrity, compassion and life-loving nature as a person. I was first exposed to the magnetic effect he had on people after he died in 1999 in an avalanche on Shishapangma, a peak high in the Tibetan Himalaya. Over the next few months, my family received hundreds of consoling letters from friends, coworkers and even people who had never met Alex, sharing how he had influenced or impacted their life.

The Art of Storytelling: A Filmmaker's Tip

As a mountain person I am familiar, all too well, with the stories that present themselves in the mountains — the quest to go higher, the drive to push farther and the epically stunning imagery waiting to be captured at the top. There is the ever-present danger of death, methods of survival and related tales to tell about each adventure. I know. I was caught in an avalanche…once upon a time.

But here's the catch: We don't want our friends or family to encounter danger and hardship. So how do we plan to find compelling stories in the mountains without putting lives on the line?

This is the contradiction I face every time I make a film about mountain adventure.  To document something "risky,” we’re counting on real life danger for dramatic effect.  I generally choose the alternative: Find a story in another piece of the human experience.