—Andre Gregory, actor, playwright
Mountainfilm uses the power of film, art and ideas to inspire audiences to create a better world.
Mountainfilm is a dynamic organization and festival of films, people, stories, and ideas that celebrates indomitable spirit, educates and inspires audiences, and motivates individuals and communities to advance solutions for a livable world.
Mountainfilm takes place on the traditional homelands of the Ute peoples.
Started in 1979, Mountainfilm is one of America’s longest-running film festivals. Through the years, in and out of trends and fads, the festival has always been best described by one unchanging word: inspiring. Far more than any other adjective, that’s how festival audiences describe their experience.
In addition to screening leading independent documentary films from around the world, the festival includes a full-day symposium on a contemporary issue, art and photography exhibits, early morning coffee talks, outdoor programs, a book-signing party, an ice cream social, student programs and a closing picnic/awards ceremony. Presentations and panels are scheduled throughout the Memorial Day weekend event with a wide diversity of special guests, ranging from artists to adventurers and academics to activists.
What's with the Prayer Flags?
Prayer flags have adorned the Town of Telluride during the annual Mountainfilm festival since the first-ever Moving Mountains Symposium was dedicated to the Tibetan people's struggle for freedom in 1994. We acknowledge that prayer flags are a long-standing and intrinsic part of Tibetan culture and continue today to be used to send prayers of peace and well-being to all beings. The meaning of this Tibetan custom aligns with Mountainfilm’s culture and values, and so, since 1994, prayer flags have become a respected and important part of the festival.
Prayer flags originate centuries ago from the Bön tradition in Tibet, where they are hung to remove obstacles and bring good fortune. Later with the advent of Buddhism, the practice of offering prayer flags was adapted with the printing of specific Buddhist prayers. The offering of prayer flags is now a common practice across Tibet and the Himalayas. This practice has proliferated around the world.
Prayer flags (Tibetan: དར་ལྕོག་) are printed in five colors – blue for the sky, white for air/wind, red for fire, green for water and yellow for earth – and are traditionally woodblock-printed with sacred images and texts. The center of the flag often depicts a lungta (Tibetan: རླུང་རྟ་) meaning wind horse, a symbol of speed and transformation of bad fortune to good, bearing three jewels on its back that represent the Buddha, Buddhist teachings and the Buddhist community. Images of four sacred animals – dragon, garuda, tiger and snow lion – can appear in the corners. Covering the rest of the flag are versions of many mantras (powerful ritual utterances) and prayers for peace and harmony.
Tibetan and Himalayan peoples believe that when the wind breezes the flags, it spreads the blessings, good will and compassion embodied in the images and writings across the land. Eventually, the prints fade and the prayers become part of the universe, and the prayer flags are renewed.
Just as the festival is made up of many moving parts, so is the organization overall. Here's a brief rundown on what else we do:
Mountainfilm on Tour
Each year Mountainfilm on Tour travels around the globe featuring a collection of culturally rich, adventure-packed and enlightening documentary short films selected from the best-loved films from the annual festival in Telluride. We're hosted by a wide array of organizations, including schools and colleges, nonprofits, corporations, community groups and theater operators. We offer enriching film screenings for each location, reaching audiences around the world.
The Mountainfilm Commitment Grant
In the interest of helping individuals tell important stories — and help those stories be heard — we award $30,000 in grants annually. The recipients are filmmakers, artists, photographers and adventurers whose projects are intended to inspire audiences to create a better world. This is our way of giving something to the amazing community of filmmakers and others who have supported Mountainfilm over the decades.
Mountainfilm for Students
We believe that school-age children are the most important audience we can reach, so it's up to us to share our inspiring mission with them because they may never otherwise experience it. Toward this end, we take a free student program on the road, collaborating with Mountainfilm on Tour hosts to find k-12 schools across the country where we can screen films for students. For the older grades, we also provide customized educational materials in support of the films that include interviews with the filmmakers, discussion topics and links to additional readings and viewings. Mountainfilm for Students also offers educational opportunities for students at the festival and year-round school programs in the region.