The small town of Marmato perches precariously on the slope of a mountain in Columbia riddled with primitive gold mines. For 500 years, the community has sustained its economy by drilling and dynamiting the mountain’s rich veins, barely denting the estimated $20 billion of reserves. Over the past several years, a Canadian corporation has bought out nearly all of the local mining interests and promoted a plan to level the mountain — and town of Marmato — with an enormous open-pit mine.

Love in the Tetons

Juan Martinez grew up in urban Los Angeles, but when he stepped off a bus in Grand Teton National Park in 1999 and saw the stars for the first time, he knew his life would be in the outdoors. He became an emerging explorer for National Geographic and in 2012, met Vanessa Torres, a Grand Teton park ranger whose background from a family of Mexican-American migrant workers was similar to his. This short film tells the story of their love for the park and growing romance with each other.

Living Wild

Lynx Vilden’s goal before she turns 50 is unusual: She wants to take a community of individuals into the wilderness for one year to live as our ancestors did thousands of years ago — metal, plastic and glass to be replaced by leather, wood and stone. Forget Paleo. The challenges of that diet pale in comparison to Vilden’s vision. Living Wild tells the story of one season of her project, documenting a small group of students learning how to live together in the wilderness.

The Lion’s Mouth Opens

In 2010, filmmaker Lucy Walker brought to Mountainfilm the unforgettable story of Vik Muniz, the Brazilian artist in Waste Land. In 2011, she captured the personal impact of the tsunami in Japan (The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom).

A Life Well Lived | Jim Whittaker & 50 Years of Everest

For Jim Whittaker, the first American to stand atop Mt. Everest, a life well lived means stepping outside of his comfort zone regularly. “Trials, tribulations and a few scars,” he says, are all parts of learning the real meaning of life. And what taking risks didn’t teach, he learned from the natural world — from the awe and humility it inspired. This short film is long on wise words from a great American hero who has participated in Mountainfilm twice (2009 and 2013).

The Last Season

Mushrooms are a strange and mysterious species, whose infinitesimal filament roots can go dormant for many seasons until growing conditions become just right. No less odd and unfathomable are humans, whose emotional lives can revive after unimaginable affliction when a nourishing environment presents itself. This film, awarded a 2013 Mountainfilm Commitment Grant, explores the touching relationship between two mushroom hunters: one a Vietnam vet approaching his final days, the other a Cambodian exile conscripted as a child into slave labor for the Khmer Rouge.

The Karsts of China

Sprinkled across the vast country of China are pockets of geologic wonder: surreal forests of limestone fins, monumental arches and slender towers that reach into the sky. In The Karsts of China, climbers Cedar Wright, Emily Harrington and Matt Segal and National Geographic photographer Carsten Peter spend a month roaming the country, seeking otherworldly formations and unclimbed routes in an exploration of wild and incredible landscapes.

Isle de Jean Charles

In the next two years, the Isle de Jean Charles is expected to flood and be lost to sea, but the resilient inhabitants on this tiny southern Louisiana island would tell you otherwise. In this short film, the last dauntless residents of this community contemplate their heritage and permanence as their kingdom quietly slips away.

An Honest Liar

James "The Amazing" Randi became a world-famous magician and escape artist by studying the art of illusion employed by Harry Houdini and other master magicians. When Randi saw these techniques used by spoon benders, faith healers and mentalists to extract money from innocent people, he was outraged and appeared regularly on television programs to debunk what he considered phonies of the lowest kind. Truth and deception — hallmarks of Randi's life — take on a new meaning, however, when he has to fight a different battle, one that involves the law and his partner. 

High Tension

In the spring of 2013, "The Swiss Machine” Ueli Steck set out to climb Mount Everest and then neighboring Lhotse without oxygen. But he and climbing partner Simone Moro ended up in an ugly confrontation with some Sherpas who were fixing lines on the route. The fight spilled into Camp 2, culminating in a group of Sherpas attacking the two European climbers with rocks.