Festival News

What Me Worry?

This year’s Mountainfilmin Telluride festival is taking shape, but David Holbrooke, the festival’s director, is fighting a twinge of panic.

I got a panicky feeling the other day during our weekly Mountainfilm staff meeting. The reason: Our meetings are normally attended only by a core team of seven year-round festival employees, but this one was significantly bigger with seasonal staff in attendance. I knew that this could only mean that the festival is closer than I realize.

March is a crazy busy month here with all kinds of preparation going into different parts of the festival. Our executive director, Peter Kenworthy, is locking down sponsor agreements and managing any number of other endless, yet essential, details. Stash Wislocki, the festival’s producer, is getting his team together and his house (well, his theaters) in order while my team (program director Emily Long and new addition Naani Sheva) focus on this year’s films.

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.

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)

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.

Mending the Line

Produced by Uncage the Soul, Mending the Line is the story of a World War II veteran, conservationist and fly-fishing legend who returns to France to see the country during peaceful times and fish the rivers he had seen during the war.

Mountainfilm Announces “Wilderness” as Theme for Moving Mountains Symposium 2014

Telluride, Colorado (January 14, 2014) — In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Wilderness Act, establishing American wilderness as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

In honor of the 50th anniversary of this groundbreaking legislation, which was the first of its kind in the world, Mountainfilm in Telluride will explore a wide range of issues associated with wilderness during its Moving Mountains Symposium, May 23, 2014. The symposium kicks off the organization’s annual four-day festival.

A Symbol of Progress and Peace in Afghanistan

Last month, Mountainfilm Festival Director David Holbrooke visited Skateistan, a skate park in Afghanistan that represents much more than just a place to skate.

In December 2013, I traveled to Afghanistan to film part of a documentary about my father, the late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke who was President Obama's Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan. While I was there, I interviewed some of my father's former colleagues, past and future Afghan Presidential candidates and New Yorker writer Dexter Filkins (the brilliant book The Forever War.)

Mountainfilm’s New Smartphone App

Mountainfilm in Telluride 2014 will mark the inauguration of our festival smartphone app. The app will provide a number of handy (pun intended) features to help inform our audience and prevent people from heading to theaters that are already full:

General Festival Information: During the festival, use the app to view the schedule, film descriptions, TBAs and last-minute announcements.

Seat Availability in Real Time: The system will show a green, yellow or red light for each upcoming program. Green indicates that plenty of seats are still available; yellow means that queue cards are diminishing quickly; and red means we’ve stopped handing out queue numbers. (Learn about how queues work.)

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