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.

Are you Getting Enough Turns?

It seems like, for one reason or another, some of us aren’t getting enough turns in this winter. It doesn’t matter whether it’s injuries, low snowfall, misaligned priorities or the simple fact that there’s no such thing as “enough turns.” We just need a fix.

So if you’ve got 6.5 minutes to spare, here are a few vicarious powder shots, courtesy of Ben Sturgulewski of Sweetgrass Productions. This film, Last Light, was shot entirely during what’s called “the magic hour” while touring the backcountry in Haines, Alaska, with three rippers.

To find more shorts like this, visit Mountainfilm in Telluride’s Shorts page, where we’ve aggregated more ski films and other great favorites from past festivals that you can stream to your computer.

No Fracking Way: A Report from New York's Rally

Natural Gas has become a flash point in the nation because enormous swaths of the country hold huge underground deposits of the fossil fuel. Mountainfilm in Telluride Festival Director David Holbrooke recently attended a rally in Albany, New York, to encourage New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to maintain a moratorium on fracking in the state. This is David Holbrooke’s report from the event.

“I’m an environmentalist — that’s why I am for natural gas,” said my stepfather as I picked up my mother to go to Albany for a demonstration opposing drilling in New York state. I replied, “I don’t have time to talk about it now, but I look forward to the conversation.”

It seems like lots of people are talking about natural gas these days, including my stepfather who I love and respect. A loud and boisterous contingent met in Albany last Wednesday outside the hall where Governor Cuomo was giving his State of the State address. Mostly, it was a coalition of farmers, young people and families who were trying to get Cuomo to keep the current fracking moratorium in place.

Life Lessons from a Slackliner

Slackliner Andy Lewis, who was featured at Mountainfilm in Telluride 2012 in the film Sketchy Andy, found global fame when he danced on a slackline during Madonna’s Super Bowl Halftime show in February of 2012. This led Lewis, who lives—and plays—in the desert town of Moab, Utah, to being invited by Madonna to join her latest world tour.

In spite of the life-changing opportunities presented by the Material Girl’s offer, he turned her down. Why? For a man who regularly balances on a piece of webbing hundreds, if not a thousand, feet off the ground, maybe it’s no surprise that he wants to avoid the imbalance to his life that would come with such a tour. As he puts it, “Real life was pulling me in a direction away from me."

Mountainfilm on Tour: Inspiration on Wheels

In 2000, we launched Mountainfilm on Tour, thinking that the magic of the festival might travel well. Much like a circus or carnival, the original concept was to reach a broader audience by visiting communities around the world. We started with shows mostly in the American West, but the tour has expanded in its dozen years. Just last year, Mountainfilm on Tour visited China, Sierra Leone, Scotland, Brazil, Norway, Chile and Canada.

How does it work? Each traveling program is a customized, tailored in collaboration with the hosting organization. Our partners include first-rate theaters, such as the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen, Colorado, or The Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York City, but we also play at universities, secondary schools, civic and nonprofit organizations. Sometimes our host is simply an individual whose mind was blown by what he or she saw at the festival in Telluride and who believes that the inspiring stories of Mountainfilm would work well in his or her neighborhood.

Oscar Documentary Shortlist 2012: A Liberal Conspiracy?

Most people enjoy the Oscars’ glamour and glitz and eagerly await the opening of the envelope for Best Picture, but at Mountainfilm in Telluride, our attention is focused on the decidedly less sexy Best Documentary Feature (and the short doc category, as well). Lots of our festival favorites have been nominated for Oscars, and many have won that gold statue, including Louie Psihoyos for The Cove, Alex Gibney for Taxi to the Dark Side and Roger Ross Williams for his short Music by Prudence.

The Power of the Image

“Perhaps the only other place one sees such public jubilation by Afghan men is at weddings," writes photojournalist Jonathan Saruk about movie theaters in Afghanistan. A place as stark as Afghanistan needs all the buoyancy it can get, especially when you hear stories like that of Skateistan.

Skateistanis the name of a skate park for kids in Kabul and also the title of a lovely short doc that screened at Mountainfilm in Telluride in 2011. As happens all too often in Afghanistan, triumph can turn to tragedy in the time it takes a psychopath to detonate a bomb, and that is what happened at the skate park.

Mountainfilm Reading List: Who Are Your Favorites?

As attendees of Mountainfilm in Telluride know, the festival is not just about film. It also celebrates artists and authors, and we usually hand over the main stage to someone with a knack for words on paper. Some recent literary luminaries from that stage include Terry Tempest Williams, John Valliant and Pico Iyer.

With the holidays on tap, we put a call out to list of some of the best Mountainfilm books. We were inspired by our friends at Banff, who presented a panel called The Best Mountain Book Ever Written at their 2012 festival. Banff’s programming mission hews more closely to alpinism, so their choices reflect that focus, while Mountainfilm in Telluride’s interests are broader.

Of course,that only makes this assignment that much more foolhardy. As it was, one judge in Banff said that their task was “a utopian and elusive project,” while another — Bernadette MacDonald, an author herself (and a guest/judge at our 2012 festival) argued that “it is irresponsible for us to do this.”