We will play some of our strongest films from the May 2009 festival including Big River Man, The Yes Men Fix the World, Samsara, and Rock Prophecies with filmmakers and characters present as well. We will also show The Cove (which was off-the-schedule in May) as well as Horse Boy, which is a classic Mountainfilm story about a family dealing with autism who heads to the mountains of Mongolia to solve their struggle.
We are excited to have Ed Viesturs involved with Mountainfilm for the first time. He told me he’s always wanted to attend the festival but it conflicted with the Himalayan climbing season in May. Jim Whittaker will be in Aspen as will other top-notch Mountainfilm guests such as Tim DeChristopher and Chris Jordan who told me that “I am going to do something I have never done before. I can’t tell what it is but people will need some breathing room afterward.”
Clearly the real food movement is gaining traction with a wide variety of people who are thinking about growing and eating food in new and creative ways. I have found interesting articles about: yardsharing (“an arrangement between people to share skills and gardening resources; space, time, strength, tools or skills, in order to grow food as locally as possible”); Veggietrader.com (an article said it was a “Craigslist for herbs and vegetables”); a floating farm (“The Science Barge is a prototype, sustainable urban farm and environmental education center.”); and yes, a truck farm (created by two of the filmmakers who made King Corn).
Wiley Holbrooke with Sasquatch (Photo by Wiley Holbrooke)
Spending much of my year in Brooklyn with chickens (backyward chickens is on the upswing according to this article), I am a sucker for urban agriculture stories, like this photo essay. That is why Dan Barber’s Op-ed piece in the NY Times about the late tomato blight that is dramatically affecting the East Coast tomato crops made my head itch. Barber writes: “Here’s the unhappy twist: the explosion of home gardeners — the very people most conscious of buying local food and opting out of the conventional food chain — has paradoxically set the stage for the worst local tomato harvest in memory.”
I was also disturbed but transfixed by this photo series by Mark Menjivar who photographs what is inside people’s refrigerators. I particularly liked the photo from inside of the documentary filmmaker’s fridge, which was stocked with three kinds of beer (including Fat Tire from our sponsor, New Belgium).
The author of Three Cups of Tea, the indefatigable Greg Mortenson, will attend Mountainfilm in 2010 to update us on his work in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He was the focus of a recent column by Tom Friedman who writes, “Mortenson’s efforts remind us what the essence of the ‘war on terrorism’ is about. It’s about the war of ideas within Islam – a war between religious zealots who glorify martyrdom and want to keep Islam untouched by modernity and isolated from other faiths, with its women disempowered, and those who want to embrace modernity, open Islam to new ideas and empower Muslim woman as much as men.”
With extinction as our theme for 2010, we are discovering interesting work on this subject. Time Magazine did a very thorough piece as did the New York Times. While much of the news is grim – which is no surprise given the nature of the subject – there is the recent good news that hundreds of species have recently been discovered in the eastern Himalayas.
MF's educational outreach program, Making Movies that Matter, takes festival films into middle and high school classes to complement core curricula. In addition to learning about critical global issues through the films, the students learn to edit and, with permission from the filmmakers, they de-construct the films and rebuild their own shortened versions. The program recently received extremely high marks from the Colorado Council on the Arts - read more here.
Cover photo by Tim Vierling, McKibben & Burns photo by Jennifer Koskinen, Mountain Summit photo by Cole Rise, Nicholas Kristof photo by Jennifer Koskinen, Wiley & Sasquatch photo by Wiley Holbrooke