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  In this issue:
MF Commitment Grant
Plastic, Plastic Everywhere
For Discussion
From Our Guests
Outside TV
Mark Your Calendar
12-26 in Telluride

Call For Entries
Natural Gas Update
MF Staffers
Help Wanted
For Filmmakers
Fun Stuff We Like

 
     
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Welcome to the eleventh issue of PITCH.

Fall used to be a reasonably quiet time at Mountainfilm but not this year as we’ve had a lot going on.

We are particularly excited about being the centerpiece of a television show just launched by the new national network, Outside TV (formerly RSN). It’s called Outside Film Festival, and is hosted by Lynsey Dyer and David LaHuta who offer up a great mix of films from the festival and interviews with special guests like Greg Mortenson, Tim DeChristopher and Ed Viesturs. We also helped Outside Magazine put together a list of the best documentaries, followed by a homegrown photo spread by photographer Jeff Lipsky, who is a former Telluride resident and snowboard instructor.

We just completed our first multi-day show in New York City hosted by the first-rate Film Society of Lincoln Center. Audience turnout at the Walter Reade Theater was outstanding for a weekend of all-star Mountainfilm programming that included Tom Shadyac’s I Am, 180 South with Timmy O’Neill and Rick Ridgeway, the Bag It crew and Tim DeChristopher.

Mountainfilm & Bag It Crew at Lincoln Center

Mountainfilm at Lincoln Center

This follows successful multi-day shows in Aspen at the lovely Wheeler Opera House (our biggest-ever road show), Seattle, Claremont, California, and Watercolor, Florida. Further big shows are being planned in San Francisco, Houston and Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, our terrific tour director, Justin Clifton, is rarely in the office as he coordinates and presents tour shows all across the country. You can see our schedule of future shows here.

We were also thrilled to award our inaugural round of Mountainfilm Commitment Grants with five winners each receiving $5000 and a MacBook Pro. You can read more about the grantees below and we very much hope to showcase their work at upcoming festivals.

Even though the pace at Mountainfilm has been more intense this year, no one is complaining because we know there’s so damn much to do. This is in contrast to Bjorn Lomborg, the controversial Danish economist who is the subject of the new documentary, Cool It. Lomborg, a famous climate change denier, now accepts that human-powered global warming is happening but, when it comes to fixing it, “the current approach is broken.” He is right there however his contention that it’s not that serious an issue is a thesis that is Panglossian at best, but deadly at worst, as it gives us more reason to do nothing.

And doing nothing is simply unacceptable. Former Mountainfilm guest Terry Tempest Williams makes this especially clear in her essential and unforgettable piece in Orion about this past summer’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Her journey through the Mississippi Delta begins with the words, “I am angry. I am outraged. And I am in love with this beautiful, blue planet we call home.”

It’s a sentiment we share here at Mountainfilm and, like Terry, the only way we know how to deal with that anger, that outrage and, most of all, that love, is to roll up our sleeves and go to work. We know so many of you are doing the same – after all, look at the long list of News from Our Guests below. And if you’re not, read this very long story in the NY Times about global warming or watch this very short video by Moms Against Climate Change and tell me you’re not moved to make a difference.

Have a happy Thanksgiving.
David Holbrooke, Festival Director

Soul of the Sea
Each year we struggle to decide which films to play at Mountainfilm but that wrenching process is easy compared to choosing the first-ever round of Mountainfilm Commitment grantees. Seven judges read more than 75 letters of interest that were winnowed down to 16 final applications before we selected: Issac Brown, one of the filmmakers behind the terrific film Gimme Green (MF 2007), who is making a new film called Terra Blight about the environmental effect of our eminently replaceable computers; Paul Colangelo, a photographer whose work on the Sacred Headwaters is a beautiful call to action to save this pristine area; Richard Linnett, who is making a film about nearby Paradox, Colorado, which could be the site of the first Uranium mill in the U.S. in more than 40 years; Natasa and Lucien Muntean, the filmmakers who made Journey of a Red Fridge (MF 2009) and have now done a film about a hopeful young Ugandan girl who wants to be the first member of her family to finish secondary school; and, Katie Mustard, who is working on a doc about Haley Shephard, a woman who is trying to solo kayak some of the coldest and most treacherous waters in the world while calling attention to the near-extinction of the Giant Albatross.

Plastic, Plastic Everywhere
Bag MonsterWe don’t know about you but we think about the 2010 Mountainfilm Audience Award winner, Bag It, everyday as it’s bloody impossible to get away from plastic and all the crap that is in it. One of the toxic chemicals is BPA, which has been banned in Canada but not in the U.S. even though a government study confirms it may negatively impact human development and reproduction. In this vein, the Environmental Working Group pores over a vast amount of private and public research to figure out what is and isn’t healthy for you.

There is a new genre of films about plastic bags. Of course, Bag It is our favorite but we also like the Werner Herzog-narrated Plastic Bag (MF 2010) and now this new addition, The Majestic Plastic Bag, a Mockumentary.

And, if you want to have more fun with plastic, check out 5gyres.org, which shows effectively where all of it ends up.

For Discussion
Three Gorges Dam
We have posted the following stories on our blog. They are all fascinating and we would love to see what the Mountainfilm community thinks about:

This piece in The Nation by Johan Hari, entitled “Wrong Kind of Green,” attacking some environmental groups for having some questionable ties, stirs up a lot of mixed feelings.

The Cove (MF 2009) deservedly won an Oscar for best documentary. This piece focuses on the woman who first broke the story on the killing seas of Taiji.

As the film Last Train Home (MF 2010) portrayed, life in 21st century China is complicated. First a two week long traffic jam, then these astonishing photos drive that point home.

From Our Guests
Tim DeChristopherTim DeChristopher has been busy despite a federal trial awaiting him that has now been postponed nine times, taking the current court date well past two years after he was arrested. Frustrated at this endless pause button on his life, Tim and some friends organized a mock trial that includes some of the evidence that the judge won’t allow in his real trial – whenever that may happen.

Keeping up the theme of rolling up our sleeves, Bill McKibben writes in a recent issue of Orion Magazine that, “If Americans are supposed to be good at anything, it’s hard work. Which is why it’s depressing to work on climate change. Year after year, for more than two decades, the hard work essentially goes undone.” But Bill continues to fight the good fight, writing a companion piece about the climate movement in The Nation and appearing on Late Show with David Letterman. His climate change group, 350.org is sponsoring a big public art project.

James Balog Extreme Ice SurveyPhotographer and frequent Mountainfilm guest James Balog won the prestigious Heinz Prize for his work on Extreme Ice Survey.

Vik Muniz was profiled in the New York Times when Wasteland (MF 2010), the wonderful documentary about him, was released.

Scientist Stuart Pimm, who headlined our Aspen extinction symposium, was part of a NY Times piece about what scientists expect from the future.

Aaron HueyAaron Huey’s Ted Talk, about his work at Pine Ridge Reservation, is getting a lot of traction on Ted.com.

While he was in New York for MFNYC, Director Tom Shadyac (I Am, MF 2010) was the subject of a “Talk of the Town” piece in The New Yorker.

Dr. Rick Hodes was the subject of a very nice piece on NPR.

The plight of the Uyghur people, whose exiled leader is Rebiya Kadeer, the subject of Ten Conditions of Love (MF 2010), is updated here.

The Yes Men put a big hurt on Chevron’s multi-million dollar ad campaign, creating their own lacerating versions of the oil company’s “We Agree” slogan.

Sylvia EarleSylvia Earle, most recently at Mountainfilm in 2008 for our water symposium, is part of a massive National Geographic initiative on oceans and has written a strong piece on the oil spill in the Gulf.

Longtime Mountainfilm guest Chris Rainier recently jumped out of a plane near Everest. We’ll let him explain:  After five days of unusually late Monsoon rainy weather in the Himalayas, this morning at 8AM local Nepali time, October 19th, we took off from the highest runway in the world at over 13,000 ft. and climbed to 29,500+ ft. flying past many of the great peaks of these amazing snow-capped mountains.  After 50 minutes gaining altitude we circled Mount Everest coming within 1500 ft. of the summit of the highest mountain in the world.

Several minutes later, strapped in a tandem rig to my instructor, the door to the plane was opened and far, far below me, within the curvature of the earth, lay a series of valleys, glaciers and mountain peaks that stretched over the horizon into Tibet.  We jumped and the team set the world’s highest altitude record for a tandem skydive - over Everest…
Rainier Sky Dive
Without a doubt the most profound experience for me lay in those sublime moments - floating in the presence of these mighty mountains, rushing to the earth and, for a brief, humble time, in the company of the gods.

After 30 minutes we landed on Terra Firma. I am still breathless.

As we draw closer to the full moon on October 23rd , restless last night, I stayed awake photographing the  Himalayan Mountains bathed in moonlight and stars....

Rainier Mountains

Cover photo by Tim Vierling, Mountainfilm in New York group photo by Sarah Holbrooke, Mountainfilm in New York Lincoln Center photo by Emily Long, Mountainfilm Commitment Granting Program photo by Haley Shephard, Plastic, Plastic Everywhere photo courtesy of Bag It, For Discussion photo by AP Photo/Xinhua, Cheng Min, Awareness Into Action photo by Jenny Jacobi, Skydiving & Himalayan night photo courtesy Chris Rainier, For Filmmakers photo from the film Waiting for Superman

Outside TV
Outside TV
It’s hard to capture the energy and feel of Mountainfilm on television but the good people of Outside TV have done an awfully impressive job with the Outside Film Festival. The crew came to Telluride this past May and, for many of them, it was their first time at Mountainfilm. Given their enthusiastic response to the festival, we don’t think it will be their last.

American OutrageWhat we particularly like is that they are giving many very worthy films from the festival an opportunity to be seen by a larger audience. The Outside TV team, led by head of programming Rob Faris, loves our great adventure films but was also drawn to edgier programming like the award-winning American Outrage by Beth and George Gage (MF 2007, then called Our Land, Our Lives). Given the state of television these days, not many TV execs would be willing to take a chance on less flashy films like Journey of the Red Fridge, Alagados or Woodsy and we thank them for that.

Outside Film Festival airs every night at Prime Time with Mountainfilm films shown four nights – Thursdays through Sundays. If your cable or satellite provider does not carry Outside TV, you can request – no demand – it here.

 

Mark Your Calendar
Dr. Rick Hodes
On January 13 in Denver, there will be a fundraiser for the work Dr. Rick Hodes (Making the Crooked Straight) is doing in Zimbabwe.
Telluride AIDS Benefit
Tickets for the super-cool Telluride Aids Benefit go on sale December 1. The dates for the fashion show are March 3-5, 2011.


12-26 In Telluride
Sheridan Opera HouseEvery year, the day after Christmas at the Sheridan Opera House, we have a holiday celebration to help raise money for Mountainfilm. As many of you know, we are doing much more than the core festival, with an extensive tour, educational programs and the new Mountainfilm Commitment Grant initiative, which will be the focus of the programming on 12-26. We’ll be showcasing some of the great works in progress by the recently announced grant winners with sneak peeks of films and special guests. If you’re in town, please join us – full details will be sent out closer to the event.

Call for Entries


Natural Gas Update

GaslandGasland (MF 2010), Josh Fox’s fine film, opened our eyes to the danger that natural gas drilling represents not only to our landscape but also our water and health. Sandra Steingraber writes in Orion that, “I have come to believe that extracting natural gas from shale using the newish technique called hydrofracking is the environmental issue of our time. And I think you should, too.” The EPA is paying attention as well, sending subpoenas to Halliburton so we can better understand fracking.

 

Mountainfilm Staffers Live Awareness Into Action
Ghana
Two of our part-time staff – Jenny Jacobi and David Byars – are in Ghana now working with the Social Support Foundation which is dedicated to, among other causes, fighting child slavery. Inspired by what they saw at Mountainfilm, they are working there for the fall and winter, chronicling their adventures on the Mountainfilm blog. Nick Kristof (MF 2009) recently wrote an article about DIY volunteering that is a little different from what Jenny and David are doing.

 

Help Wanted
You may have received a note recently from our executive director, Peter Kenworthy, asking for your support as a donor. We are working hard to broaden Mountainfilm’s impact while keeping the energy and intimacy of our core festival intact. More than ever, we need your help so, please, consider us as you make your year-end charitable contributions. You can donate online, here.

Also, while we are thrilled to have all our terrific sponsors, we have room for more especially in the automotive, electronics and airline industries. If you have helpful connections that you are able to share, please let Peter know.


For Filmmakers
Waiting for Superman
- As documentaries find bigger audiences, the definition of what’s a documentary gets looser. As A.O. Scott recently wrote in the NY Times, the real truth can be a little uncertain in many films that are out there.
- This article is about the very complicated relationship between filmmaker and subject.
- If you are looking for funding for a film, here is a possible grant program.


social media links
Fun Stuff That We Like
Senegalese bike_dancer
We actually love this Senegalese bike-dancer. Yes, you read that right. Shot in one take, this video is awesome.
Parkour
Parkour sweeps into the Middle East as some Palestinians make the most of being in a war zone while dreaming of a life outside of it in this NY Times video.

Another big dreamer is this father who started the Brooklyn Space Program.
Arcade Fire
The band Arcade Fire has a great new album with a very cool video.
       
Are you obscene?
The film Howl, about Allen Ginsberg’s epic poem, has made its way through the theaters by now but it’s still worth checking out the film’s website to see what you think is obscene.
10secondspitch
10secondspitch.com is a website, still in beta-testing, that calls itself “an experiment in discovering initiative, projects and products.” It’s like Kickstarter meets Chat Roulette.
Carrotmob
Carrotmob is a social network of sorts that is trying to make deals with local merchants by assembling a network of folks who will shop in a certain store if the owners will make a green improvement. Very clever. Could it work in Telluride? Or your hometown?
Blu
We would love to find a way to get the artist Blu to Mountainfilm.
 
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