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.
We 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.
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.
Tim 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.
Photographer 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 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 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…
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....
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