Mountainfilm Blog

Mountainfilm's blog has evolved quickly and steadily to become the engine that drives Mountainfilm.org. 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.

Where are the Women?

Mountainfilm on Tour is constantly growing, so we’re screening films for larger audiences in more locations around the world. Perhaps that’s why we’ve received a rash of criticism we’ve not seen before: Women are writing to describe “feeling upset…at the end of the presentation” because of “an utter lack of films portraying women.” They want female role models. We hear you and appreciate the input, and Emily Long, Mountainfilm’s program director, offers this response:

Thanks to everyone who has noticed and addressed the lack of adventureous and inspiring females in our programming. It's a problem for sure, but the problem goes much deeper than just Mountainfilm or one Mountainfilm on Tour show. The truth is, unfortunately, that not that many awesome, adventuresome women are making films. This is 2014, not 1954, and yet there's still a huge dearth of women in film that is endemic to the entire industry.

Mountainfilm on Tour Explores Alaska

Last month, we sent Ashley Boling, one of Mountainfilm on Tour’s presenters to Alaska for 20 days. He regaled us with the following adventures, musings and observations from The Last Frontier, which include glacier viewing, rain, a malfunctioning Chevy Blazer, more rain, an eagle sighting, skiing in the rain and nine Mountainfilm on Tour shows.  

Anchorage, Alaska: 01-10-14

The Tour stops consist of Anchorage, Juneau, Girdwood and Homer. I presented my first show last night, on the campus of the University of Alaska, Anchorage. The 460 people in the audience loved the show and demonstrated their appreciation with wild applause after each of the 10 films. I would have to say the favorite film of the evening, judging by the uproarious applause and laughter, was The Scared is Scared. This film has no skiing, climbing, extreme kayaking or outdoor adventure; it is an imaginary story told by a young child with an active and innocent mind.

The Last Season

To mushroom hunt is to discern the relationships in the forest, uncovering how tree roots connect to the minutiae of life coursing beneath the soil or how canopy cover relates to moisture in the climate, which produces pockets of decomposition throughout the forest floor. All of these pieces must come together to produce a mushroom—and a good mushroom hunter reads the landscape’s clues in order to find what’s hidden underground.

The process of documentary filmmaking is not unlike navigating the forest ecology to find mushrooms. Documentary is about a search for a story produced from unexpected configurations. Filmmakers survey the cluttered social, political and economic landscapes to find pathways into people’s lives. Documentarians look beneath the surface of the proverbial soil to discover complex interconnections. And, from the messiness of the worlds they examine, they cobble together a sense of meaning.

Long Year Begin

The idea of some gigantic vault, built deep inside a mountain in the Arctic Circle to safely store seeds from all over the world in case of cataclysmic events, was a natural lure for our filmmaking team. Our cinematographer and I spent two months on the island of Svalbard at 79 degrees latitude (where polar bears outnumber people) looking for stories. We filmed inside the Svalbard Seed Vault and all around the island, where we discovered abandoned Russian coalmines, the world’s largest satellite array and the northernmost permanently populated town on Earth, called Longyearbyen.

My Last Visit With Pete

Folk singer, song writer and activist Peter Yarrow (of the 1960s folk singing trio Peter, Paul and Mary) visited his friend Pete Seeger in the hospital the day before Seeger passed away. Below Yarrow recounts the singing and sentiments of his visit. (Photo: Peter Yarrow and Pete Seeger in the studio)

Rise

From the heart of the Rio de Janeiro’s beaches, eclectic culture and sprawling favelas, massive granite monoliths host world-class rock climbing. This natural adventure resource was the motivation for a unique climbing outreach program for at-risk youth in Rio's favelas, the Centro de Escalada Urbana, an ambitious climbing school started in 2010.

All Eyes on Rio. The buzz of the up and coming World Cup, then the Olympics, and all the political wrangling that accompanies it. Deals transacted to host events; hotels hoisting prices into orbit; cement poured for stadium foundations.

One could be forgiven for being swept away by the flare and excitement of planning two of the world's largest sporting events. Look a bit closer, however, at the day-to-day life in the heart of Rio's largest favela, Rocinha, and you'll find the beginnings of a movement emerging from the myriad of alleyways and protruding rebar. Smaller than the World Cup perhaps, but nevertheless significant.

Who Owns Water?

There’s a lot at stake on a few, big, slow, brown rivers in the deep South. The Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Basin is becoming the canary in the coal mine for a looming East Coast water crisis. The Hanson brothers grew up in Atlanta beside the Chattahoochee River. In March 2013, they returned and paddled, together and separately, the 542 miles of the basin from its source in the Appalachian Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico to tell the story of an endangered and essential water resource.

“Water Wars! Give me another drink of whiskey, and I’ll tell you something different.” Uncle Tony of Columbia, Georgia, told Michael this at Tony’s riverside cattle ranch in south Georgia. Michael and David Hanson met dozens of characters like Tony while paddling canoes through Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

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