Shorts

For both Telluride festival and Mountainfilm on Tour, short films and videos are essential. Here is a treasury of favorite Mountainfilm shorts from our festival archives.

After the Fall

After the Fall

“Slumping” is a frightening geological phenomenon that’s happening to the town of Santiago Mitlatongo, Mexico, and After the Fall uses photographs from Orion magazine photojournalist Matt Black to tell the story of what happens when soil erosion causes homes, streets and livelihoods to slip, at the rate of one meter a day, into the valley.

Albee Layer

This introspective piece provides a glimpse into a rider’s desire for an unlikely duo: pyromania and big, hollow waves.

All.I.Can JP Auclair Street Segment

JP Auclair teams up with Sherpas Cinema in this short, mind-blowing segment from the 2011 Powder Magazine Movie of the Year All.I.Can to tame the mean streets of British Columbia on skis. You might have seen this footage on your computer, but check it out on the big screen.

Berber Turns

Telluride local Kim Havell teamed up with Kris Erickson and Chris Rubens to explore the far reaches of Morocco’s skiing, including some turns on the second highest peak in Northern Africa.

Coming Up For Air

He makes it look easy, but what climber Will Atkinson does in Coming Up For Air is extremely hard. This short film by Jen Randall points the lens on Atkinson as he sends a new 8a boulder problem at The Plantation in Stanage in England. The problem is a direct start to big air that requires an acrobatic move and massive strength.

Dark Side of the Lens

Surf photographer Mickey Smith artfully crafts and narrates an immensely powerful and brooding glimpse at some of Ireland’s heaviest, and coldest, waves.

Desert River

Sweetgrass Productions (Mountainfilm 2010, Signatures) offers a poetic ski film set to the haunting Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes song, “Desert Song.” The film provides a glimpse into the beauty of late season skiing in Haines, Alaska, as well as the extreme turns that still can be had as evenings deepen with long spring shadows.

Dock Ellis and the LSD No-No

Doc Ellis & The LSD No-No

This animated short tells the story of Dock Ellis, a major league pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1970. One day, he thought he wasn’t on the pitching schedule, so he decided to take acid. It turned out, however, that he was in the starting lineup, so he went into the ballpark, fully tripping, and managed to throw a no-hitter.

Eco Ninja

From the maker of the award-winning short film The Job (Mountainfilm 2007) comes this satirical brief comedy about a corporation that enforces a go-green policy in its offices by hiring an Eco Ninja who takes his duties all too seriously. As usual, Jonathan Browning and Screaming Frog Productions think outside the box — and then recycle the box.

Fresh Guacamole

Western Spaghetti was at Kidz Kino in 2009. PES returns to serve up another tasty meal with Fresh Guacamole. No one but PES could make grenades, dice, pincushions or chess pieces look so appetizing.

Hammer and Flame

Ship breaking, or scrapping, is a dangerous business with severe health and environmental hazards. As a result, the industry now resides almost exclusively in developing countries, notably in India and Pakistan where risks of personal injury lawsuits and workers’ health claims are virtually absent. Like water wearing away rock, a sea of men and boys, armed only with rudimentary tools, swarms the derelict hulls and decks and engine rooms and slowly they break down beached leviathan tankers and cargo chips.

Heliotropes

Carefully crafted by director Michael Langan, this short piece is a lovely filmic rendition of a poem by Brian Christian that speaks of sunflowers seeds, flight patterns and Fibonacci sequences. Yes, it’s odd—but appealing.

Here & There

Filmed in Hawaii and Nicaragua, Here & There is about great surf and big air and reminds us that surfing is no longer just about riding the wave — it’s about what can be done above it.

Human Rights Are for Everyone

What are human rights? This short documentary created by youth producers in Baltimore, Maryland, tells us why they are important for everyone.

I Am a Paleontologist

This delightful song by They Might Be Giants talks all about paleontology, which is a fancy word for the study of prehistoric life-like dinosaur bones, evolution and mass extinction.

I Know What You Spilled Last Summer

In this spot-on parody, “I Know What You Spilled Last Summer” features four young oil executives, including a Jennifer Love Hewitt lookalike(ish) trying to cover up a terrible disaster.

Industrial Revolutions

There seems to be no end to what Danny MacAskill can do on a trials bike, whether it be on the streets of Dunvegan, Scotland, or in an abandoned industrial train yard. Ben Howard’s song “The Wolves” artfully underscores MacAskill — whose bike seems almost an extension of his body — as he performs electrifying tricks in unexplored places.

KONY 2012

It was a social media sensation like no other. Invisible Children’s short film, KONY 2012, was released in March and spread like wildfire, lighting up Facebook and garnering approximately 100 million views around the world. The story is that of the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and the efforts of Jason Russell and Invisible Children to bring him to justice. Of course, the film’s success created its own backlash, and the nonprofit found itself in the middle of a media firestorm as KONY 2012 gathered more and more attention.

Last Light

Shot entirely during what’s called the “magic hour,” cinematographer and editor Ben Sturgulewski of Sweetgrass Productions takes us on a self-powered, all-you-can-shred spine buffett in Haines, Alaska, with skiers Stephan Drake, Forrest Shearer and Johan Jonsson.

Load Bearing

Since 1996, the Telluride Adaptive Sports Program has been teaching people with disabilities to ski. The organization has grown in scope and scale, and last June, they brought their athletes to Alaska for an immersive high-altitude adventure. This inspiring short features locals James and Summer Colt, along with guide Drew Ludwig.

Lundberg Loses It

Filmmaker Kenny Luby followed a day in the life of professional downhill skateboarder Eric Lundberg who has to transition from breakfast to trying not to lose it at 70 miles per hour. 

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Marcel hang glides onto a chip for adventure, drags around a piece of lint on a string named Alan, is afraid to drink soda, and is infectiously lovable. Join Marcel–who is really only half shell–for this exclusive day-in-the-life interview. 

Meet Mr. Toilet

For those without access to a simple toilet, poop can be poison. But it’s not just a problem for the poor. Mr. Toilet — a nickname for the businessman turned sanitation superhero, Jack Sim, whose mission is to make sure everyone on the planet has access to clean toilets — says “flies don’t know the difference between a rich man and a poor man, so the rich man is probably eating the shit of the poor man…. Think about it.”

Moonwalk

Dean Potter is nothing if not creative. In this short piece, he highlines across a desert landscape with a massive full moon as his backdrop.

Mr. Happy Man

Johnny Barnes is one of the happiest people in the world, and his main goal in life is to share that happiness. This humble and lovable Bermudan wakes up at 3 a.m. every morning and heads to one particularly busy intersection to stand, wave, blow kisses and shout, “I love you!” to passers-by. Crazy or not, Johnny has a lot to say about what it takes to be optimistic and happy. And he has brought smiles to the faces of thousands who would have an otherwise dreary morning commute.

My Toxic Reality

The Goldman Environmental Prize is perhaps the most important—and generous—environmental tribute of its kind with an annual financial award that goes to grassroots environmental heroes from each of the world’s six inhabited continents. My Toxic Reality is about one of the winners, Hilton Kelly, who saw a need for someone to take a stand in his community of Port Arthur, Texas, a place where eight petrochemical refining facilities lord over that town’s residential areas.

One Plastic Beach

For 12 years, Judith Selby and Richard Lang have collected plastic trash along a one-kilometer stretch of beach near their home in Northern California. At a rate of 35 pounds per hour, it isn’t surprising that they have accumulated tons of debris. What may be surprising is the art they produce with it—sculptures and abstract prints reminiscent of Paul Klee and Henri Matisse that feature 1949-vintage toys, Korean lighters, Astroturf (a common find), bubble blowers and hair curlers that may have last adorned a human head thirty or forty years ago.

Ormie

Ormie is a Pig in every sense of the word. Pig see cookie. Pig want cookie. But they are out of reach...or are they? See Ormie's attempts to gain the warm, sweet taste that is his obsession. 

Prayers for Peace

Animation, as a medium and an art form, can be powerfully profound, especially when it delivers a universal message through an intensely personal story. Dustin Grella’s short film about September 11 achieves just such a synthesis. His sad story, sparely told, is perfectly complemented by the simple beauty of his drawings that are, at once, both ephemeral and unforgettable.

Racing the End

Bike racing in Los Angeles, California? No way. There are too many cars. This may be the illest road race on the planet. Legality is questionable and trying to hold the wheel of the fixie in front might mean a pre-dawn, clandestine and completely certifiable victory. There is no way those dog tags are leaving L.A.

Seasons: Winter

Winter. Brian Ward discovers an unexpected and new-found love for water in its frozen and expanded form.

Shattered

“Higher, harder, stronger, lighter. Need less, do more. Pull, kick, shatter.” This is the mantra of Steve House as he contemplates and then free solos a prodigious wall of ice in this incisive and lyrically filmed short. Hailed by mountaineering legend Reinhold Messner as “the best high-altitude climber in the world,” House is known for his minimalist approach, using as little gear as possible, a style that he says yields the richest results.

Silvia - Ian Killick

Mountain biker Ian Killick is featured in this flawless short by Karl Heldt and Matt Miles of Silvia Films.

Skateistan

Skateistan

“People keep looking at our shoes and boards in a weird way. They think that they are attached to the boards through some sort of magnetic field.” So says 17-year-old Afghani Murza, a young teenager from Kabul who has found his oasis in a place called Skateistan. Directed by former professional snowboarder Orlando von Einsiedel, the film Skateistan documents how a physical action as simple as skateboarding can help to dissolve barriers between boys and girls and empower children to believe in their ability to create positive change, even in a bomb-scarred country.

Song of the Spindle

“I think humans could really learn something from us whales,” says one of the two characters in this humorous, animated short that imagines a whimsical conversation between a sperm whale and a man. Guess which one has more wisdom?

Stone River

Deep in the Northeastern woods, working alone, one man is building a better world, one stone at a time. One very, very big stone. Placed very, very carefully. His tools are his hands, his back, a few metal implements. But his vision encompasses all of modern culture and its reformation. A film by Hal Clifford and Jason Houston for Orion magazine. (Original Source: Vimeo)

Stories of TRUST: Calling for Climate Recovery

Seventeen-year old activist Alec Loorz takes on the U.S. government.  In an unprecedented legal filing, Loorz and youth from across that country that are members of iMatter — the climate group he founded — sued the U.S. government, calling upon the courts to put in place "Climate Recovery Plans" that will protect the atmosphere for future generations. Produced by WITNESS, Montana State University's MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking, Our Children's Trust and Kids v.

The Denali Experiment

In 2011, The North Face assembled an eclectic team of athletes for a ski expedition up Denali, the hulking 20,320-foot mountain that rises from a snow-clad range in Alaska’s interior. The trip, captured in Camp 4 Collective’s film The Denali Experiment, brings together an unexpected mix of new-school talent and mountaineering veterans, matching the likes of Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, the spine-ripping star of ski films by Teton Gravity Research, with experts of the high mountains, such as Conrad Anker and Telluride’s Hilaree O’Neill. The result?

The Fall Line

Heath Calhoun would never wish his experience on anyone but somehow, he considers his experience a blessing—which is not what you would expect from someone who lost both legs from a rocket attack in Iraq. The lesson Calhoun has taken from his disability is that the human body can go a lot farther than we imagine. On a Wounded Warriors-sponsored trip to Aspen, Calhoun discovered mono-skiing. Within four years, he was competing for the U.S. in the Paralympics. Along the way he learned that his spirit had gained far more than his body had lost.

The Love Competition

This delightful short documents the Stanford University MRI lab’s first-ever love competition. Each contestant has 5 minutes in an fMRI machine to love someone as much as they can. The winner’s brain generates the greatest activity for the neurochemical experience of love.

The Man Who Lived on His Bike

What can you do on a bicycle? For Guillaume Blanchet, the question is what can’t you do? In this two-minute homage to bikes and the bike obsessed, Blanchet eats, sleeps, showers, shaves, works, cooks and even dates — all from atop his man-powered machine.

The Nature of Battle

In an empty and dystopian war-torn world a new hope arrives in the form of a seed.

The Nomad

Erik Boomer, featured as a presenter in the 2012 festival for his circumnavigation of Ellesmere Island with Jon Turk, is the star of this short film by Forge Motion Pictures. Why does he wander? What is he seeking? Traveling by foot, skis and kayak, Boomer moves through the world and his life in a way few others do.

The Roper

The only problem with this film is that it’s short. The brief glimpse we get of calf roper Kendrick Dominingue’s life, and the introduction to his dream of being the best roper in the land, is like catching the scent of a rich feast and having to settle for just a lick of the gravy.

Watch now.

The Snake Show

A warning to all ophidiophobes: close your eyes now! This short film–made from over 70,000 still images taken by Joel Sartore–has the slimy scary creatures in nearly every single frame.

The Way Home: Returning to the National Parks

“You shouldn’t have to convince people to go to paradise,” says Yosemite National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson. As an African American, he is unsettled by the fact that only 1 percent of those who visit Yosemite share his race. The Way Home: Returning to the National Parks follows the brief journey of a group of African American seniors from Los Angeles, California, as they experience these sacred lands.

Towers of the Ennedi

Renan Ozturk (Mountainfilm 2009, Samsara, which won the Charlie Fowler Award) now heads to the remote and sun-flattened landscape of the Ennedi Desert in northeastern Chad. It’s a hot, sand-scoured and unfriendly place, but from its vast belly rise clusters of spires, towers and rock formations that are breathtakingly lovely.

Unicorn Sashimi

Telluride’s own Felt Soul Media teamed up with Nick Waggoner and Yuki Mayazaki of Sweetgrass Productions to track a wild unicorn in Hokkaido, Japan. But all they found was delicious ramen — and deep, sweet snow.

Way Back Home

With trial bike in hand, Danny MacAskill returns to the old country to try a few new school tricks. Filmmaker Dave Sowerby captured MacAskill at play in his hometown of Dunvegan, Scotland. 

We Come From Jambiani

When a Chapman College film professor challenged his students to submit their work to Mountainfilm, there were no guarantees. The student work was judged alongside all others submitted. One student film, however, rose to the top.

Wild Love: Jake Norton and Wende Valentine

Wild Love is a series about the romantic relationships of outdoor athletes and adventurers. This episode features the marriage of Jake Norton, a renowned alpinist for First Ascent and his wife, Wende Valentine, who works with Water For People. As this synopsis was being written, Norton was on Everest, attempting to summit the mountain via the West Ridge, first climbed by Tom Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld on the famous 1953 American expedition.

Yelp: With Apologies to Allen Ginsberg's "Howl"

Yelp: With Apologies to Allen Ginsberg's "Howl"

This short film’s full title is Yelp (With Apologies to Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”). Directed by Tiffany Shlain and narrated by Peter Coyote, it is a brief essay (really a rant) about technology and how we need to–as Peter Coyote shouts to the world–“unplug, unplug, unplug and revisit the present tense.”
 

Yosemite Falls High-Line

Filmmaker Renan Ozturk (Towers of Ennedi and On Assignment) shows us a new angle on slack lining as Dean Potter attempts a perilous crossing at Upper Yosemite Falls.