Festival News

Telluride Mountainfilm Hires Sage Martin as Executive Director

Telluride Mountainfilm Hires Sage Martin as Executive Director

Telluride, Colorado (September 17, 2014) – Sage Martin, a ten-year Telluride local, was hired as Mountainfilm’s Executive Director by the organization’s board of directors today. Current Executive Director Peter Kenworthy announced his resignation in July and will assist Martin in transitioning into her new role before his departure on October 18th.

How to Watch Mountainfilm’s 2014 Shorts

In July, we posted an article about how to catch feature-length films that you missed during Telluride Mountainfilm 2014. Short and mid-length films are a different beast entirely.

Until recently, the market for short films was practically nonexistent. Filmmakers could find audiences with a festival run (which usually costs money instead of earning it), and if they were lucky, one of the few companies that buys and sells short films, such as Wholphin, would be interested. A television deal was an option for only an even luckier few. When the Internet came along, the market for original content for television crashed without creating an instant online market.

How We Increased Gross Festival Happiness

Behind the scenes, we’re always looking for ways to make the festival better. Like sausage and laws, however, we hope you never have to experience how a successful festival is truly made. But the process is less messy than a sausage factory or the floor of Congress — at least most of the time.

In 2013, we identified a happiness obstacle: getting turned away from theaters. Hundreds of passholders got shut out of the opening night screening of High & Hallowed at the Sheridan Opera House, and the buzz on the street at the start of Mountainfilm 2013 centered around how hard it was to get a seat in a theater. We keep theater turn-away numbers that go back nearly a decade, and while we hit a record high of 1,278 turn-aways in 2010, they were still unacceptable in 2013 at 723.

Finalists for the 2014 Mountainfilm Commitment Grant

In June, we wrote about the fifth anniversary of the Mountainfilm Commitment Grant, and now we’re proud to announce the finalists for 2014. These individuals have the opportunity to apply for one of the five $5,000 grants that also include a MacBook Pro computer.

The number of applicants increase annually, so the competition gets fiercer. We thank all of those who submitted letters. Many worthy projects did not make it to the final round, but here are the 16 that did qualify:

Alfredo Alcántara and Caitlin Machak
Shaki (film)
The filmmakers will take a journey into the Amazon to learn the real story behind the life of Napoleon Chagnon, one of the first anthropologists to research an uncontacted Yanamamo tribe in Venezuela, who was later discredited and disgraced. Alfredo Alcántara co-directed the film Duke and the Buffalo, which screened at Mountainfilm 2014.

2014 Festival Films—Now What?

Every year after the festival, we get a rash of phone calls and emails with the same general request: “How can I see that film?”

With new online distribution platforms popping up and the opportunity for self-distribution becoming more viable, it’s now easier to watch festival films, sans fest, than it was five years ago. Back in the day, the festival circuit was usually the first stop for many documentaries and filmmakers spent months, in some cases years, trying to find outlets to get their film seen. For feature-length films, the common strategy was to run on the festival circuit, find distribution, get a theatrical run or a television deal and then start selling DVDs — in that order. It took time for a film to trickle down to everyone.


“It’s going to work. It has to.” I can’t count the number of times I’ve repeated that to myself over the last year.

The Mountainfilm Commitment Grant Turns 5

The Mountains of the Moon in Uganda. The Sacred Headwaters of British Columbia. Rural Southwestern Colorado. Kathmandu and the Himalaya. The town of Marmato high in the Colombian Andes. Midway Island. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Basin in the southeastern United States. Favelas and towering rock above Rio de Janeiro. A deadbeat damn, slated for removal but still standing, near Ojai, California.

The Mountainfilm Commitment Grant reaches its first milestone year in 2014. With four seasons of grants behind us, we’re headed toward the fifth — just old enough for kindergarten, but the program has already been around the world several times. In the first four years, we’ve helped — with $5,000 grants and Apple computers — film and photography projects in all of the places listed above and more.

Thank You!

Now that the dust has settled (or, more accurately, the snow has melted), we’re starting to feel almost rested here at the Mountainfilm offices. We hope the films, guests and art exhibitions inspired all of you as much as they impressed us.

We’re feeling particularly grateful and want to extend thanks to everyone (guests, filmmakers, volunteers and festival staff) who helped make this year one of the smoothest on Mountainfilm record. And speaking of smooth, we turned fewer people away from full theaters, thanks to a new smartphone app and some strategic programming. This feat not only allowed 11 percent more people to attend the festival, but also resulted in more general happiness. (Look out, Bhutan.)

#mfilm14 Primer

Whether you’re new to Mountainfilm in Telluride this year or a veteran with decades of festival stories, listen up. The following tips and new additions might just make the difference between a good weekend and the best weekend…ever.

Tip 1 (for everyone): We suggest you make a general plan by first reading all the film synopses and presentations. Take note of what interests you, and then check out the schedule to see when those films and presentations happen. While you’re looking at the schedule, also note the events (parties, art exhibitions, book signings, Coffee Talks, etc.) that you want to attend.

Tip 2 (for everyone): Telluride’s theaters, as with most venues, offer a wide range of seating capacity. If you want to get into one of the smaller theaters, be sure to show up extra early to get a queue. Theater seats: Palm 600, High Camp 500, Sheridan 230, Nugget 186, Masons 120 and Library 65.

Climate Change through the Eyes of a Climate Artist

 the late 1990s, while my brother, Cameron, was assistant director of 
Mountainfilm, I was a regular. So I’m excited to return after 
more than a decade’s hiatus, and it’s fortuitous that the word in the 
air this year is “wilderness.” Cameron wrote his senior college paper 
on the Wilderness Act, perhaps inspired by a class we both took with the legendary philosopher-turned-environmental-historian Bill Cronon. Cronon taught us how our mental concept of 
wilderness and nature affected how we manifest ourselves on the 
landscape, whether we were conscious of it or not.

 year was 1988, and climate change wasn’t yet on my radar. In fact, it 
was just stepping onto the public stage. The IPCC was formed that year, 
and Jim Hansen gave his now-historical first testimony on climate change
 before the U.S. Senate. A year later, Bill McKibben published the first 
book on the subject for the general public, The End of Nature,
 in which he pointed out the surreal realization that an 
untouched nature wasn’t possible anymore, now that we’ve changed the