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.

Mountainfilm: More than the Sum of its Parts*

I stumbled across Mountainfilm in the spring of 1998, a few weeks after I moved to Telluride.

A door opened. For a few magical days, I felt like an initiate to whom secrets and magic were being revealed. It became my favorite event of the year. Fifteen years later, it still is.

I have often tried to explain Mountainfilm to Those Who Do Not Know. I tell them about the mechanics: the ice cream social, the growing number of screens, the fact that you’ll have a conversation with Aaron Huey or Chris Jordan and it may change your life. But I am unable to convey the ineffable aspects, those things that are both the most evanescent and the most essential to Mountainfilm. They are the qualities that make the festival more than the sum of its parts. Trying to describe them is like trying to explain sex.

Colorado River Named Most Endangered River in the Nation

For more than two decades, American Rivers has released its annual list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers, and this week, the river at the top of the 2013 list— the most endangered river in the nation — is the mighty Colorado.

The Colorado River is a lifeline in the desert, its water sustaining tens of millions of people in seven states, as well as endangered fish and wildlife. Thirty million people in the Southwest depend upon the Colorado River for drinking water and irrigation for food — not to mention the millions more who flock to it to boat and those who stand atop the Grand Canyon to view the breathtaking formations created by this magnificent and powerful river.

Mountainfilm’s Distinctly Un-Businesslike Feel*

I can’t think of a place I would rather be on Memorial Day weekend than at Mountainfilm in Telluride. What could compare? The beauty of the place is unmatched. On the long-lit first evening, you arrive at a delicious barbecue in a meadow surrounded by snowy peaks where a great bluegrass band is playing, and everyone is dancing, eating, talking, catching up. So many of my comrades are there — the environmentalists and activists of all stripes, the filmmakers whose dedication to storytelling and to making the world a better place through film is matched only by their sense of joy. And the films are terrific! I love the breadth of films that are invited every year and have seen some of my all-time favorites there for the first time. Among the truly memorable, films by Kesang Tseten and the dramatic film The Cup come to mind, but there are many others.

Mountainfilm was Different. It Was in My Face.*

Mountainfilm came into my life at a pivotal moment, changing my trajectory forever. My dad made films; they were on shows like “60 Minutes,” “20/20” and “FRONTLINE.” His films were powerful, award winning and had impact. I grew up understanding that you can tell stories that make a difference, but there was always a distance that came with watching a piece on TV that I could never quite get beyond.

Mountainfilm was different. It was in my face. It momentarily swallowed me, and the emotion I felt was real. It wasn’t just the films that reached me, it was the community — the cliché of the gathering of tribe rang true, and I wanted in.

I met Ben Knight at the Telluride Daily Planet. He hired me into the photo department (even though I was shooting with a Nikon at the time). Over the course of a year, we talked about the beauty and emotion of films that we took in at Mountainfilm. We were both in awe of the power of film to create change when paired with passionate people and a cause worth fighting for.  

A Peculiar Week at Mountainfilm in Telluride

Mountainfilm in Telluride Festival Director David Holbrooke took a few minutes from his crazy schedule to share what’s happening this week as he prepares for May 24-27.

This is a peculiar week because program director Emily Long and I are starting to notify filmmakers about whether their films have been accepted into this year’s festival or not. We receive hundreds of submissions and can only play 60 to 70 films, so we make tough decisions. Making it even harder, Emily and I feel that the submissions are particularly strong this year. Certain films that are still on our Maybe list might have been accepted another year. (We keep three lists: In, Out and Maybe.)

Come One, Come All

People sometimes tell us that Mountainfilm in Telluride, which takes place every Memorial Day weekend (May 24 to 27, 2013), often conflicts with graduations and weddings. In the past, we’ve held our tongue because the laws of physics prevent you from being in two places at once. But this year is different. Climate solutions is the theme of the 2013 Moving Mountains Symposium, and it’s a topic too important for anyone to miss, so we want to urge you to make the right decision.

Here’s the thing: Graduations and weddings fill many calendar days all over the planet. Mountainfilm happens only once a year. And each time, it’s mind-blowingly different, memorable and often even life changing. How many weddings or graduations (aside from your own) can you say that about?

Mountain Films Reach New Heights at Telluride Festival

As we prepare to celebrate Mountainfilm’s thirty-fifth birthday this year, we’ve been nostalgically leafing through old scrapbooks. This article, written by Peter Shelton, was a special to the Sunday Denver Post on June 7, 1981, highlighting an early festival.

“Small town, big show,” was the way T.I.M. Lewis, climber and editor of Britain’s prestigious Mountain magazine, described the third Mountainfilm in Telluride. Lewis had come from England specifically to join Telluride’s annual gathering of mountaineers, adventurers, filmmakers and films about mountain life.