Welcome to the second issue of Pitch.

Last May, as part of our new Mountainfilm Commitment program, I pledged to “get urban agriculture going in our neighborhood in Brooklyn.” Looking back, I see I was vague enough for that commitment to mean most anything.

Well, here is what it has actually meant so far: We planted vegetables in our backyard last summer but without enough sun, nothing notable grew. I’ve been talking to some neighbors, who have great roofs and backyards for growing, and they are interested in picking up where we failed.

That leaves the Holbrookes with chickens. It was my wife's, Sarah’s idea, which I was mildly opposed to because our life is already a three-ring circus. But some things just gain a momentum of their own, and the result has been a lot of fresh eggs on our table.

Having these very locally grown eggs has been great, especially as we are putting together the Moving Mountains Symposium on Food for Mountainfilm 2009 (see more below).

Besides the food programming, we are excited about hosting the world premiere of the new film by Ken Burns: The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. As Ken has said, the idea of creating The National Parks “is as uniquely American as the Declaration of Independence and just as radical.”

We will also be screening Reporter, which just premiered at Sundance and features NY Times columnist Nick Kristof, who plans to attend Mountainfilm this year.

We have a lot more in store for Memorial Day Weekend in Telluride. So get an early bird pass now, and we will guarantee you a full plate of mind-blowing guests and compelling films (although we need to figure out the popcorn conundrum after reading former Telluride resident Lou Bendrick’s Grist column).

All best,

David Holbrooke
Festival Director

Moving Mountains Symposium
After symposiums on energy and water in the last two years, food was a natural choice for the next subject. We are excited about our lineup, which includes acclaimed environmental writer Bill McKibben, National Geographic editor Dennis Dimick and chef Dan Barber.

The Symposium will address the following question:

Of the 6.7 billion people currently living on this planet, one billion of them are overweight, while another 800 million starve. By the year 2050, demographers estimate there will be 9.2 billion people on the planet.

Present-day agriculture practices are clearly not sustainable much less adequate to be able to feed today’s population. With a planet clearly in crisis, what has to be done in the next 41 years if we are going to feed a populace with an additional 2.5 billion people?

Minds of Mountainfilm
So many great people come through Telluride each year for Mountainfilm that we have started sitting them down for interviews for a series called Minds of Mountainfilm. A version for television will air on Plum TV in Telluride and other Plum markets. We are also releasing these compelling pieces on our website with the first to feature Chris Jordan speaking with Aaron Huey, and check out Pico Iyer talking about the Dalai Lama. We will be filming more this year outside the Gondola station in Telluride during the festival.

The Modern Day Slavery Domino Effect
On January 7, NBC aired an episode of Law and Order about modern day slavery called Chattel. The show’s producers came to the subject, in part, because of Mountainfilm. A filmmaker friend of mine named Liz Manne graciously offered to help me put together the slavery programming for the festival last year. Unaware of the issue but moved to action by this Crime So Monstrous (to borrow author and abolitionist Ben Skinner’s book title), Liz gave Law and Order executive producer and head writer Rene Balcer a copy of Ben's shattering book, inspiring Balcer to write a show about modern day slavery. The Law and Order episode was watched by more than ten million people and is now available on iTunes.

Ben was also nominated to be the Adventurer of the Year for National Geographic, who first met him in Telluride last May. (Sadly, one of the winners of this prestigious award, British climber Rob Gauntlett was killed in a climbing accident on Mont Blanc in January.).

And the organization Free the Slaves convinced long-time Mountainfilm attendee Tom Shadyac to host their Freedom Awards, which featured Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

New Chris Jordan Piece with Paul Hawken
Chris is nothing if not prolific. He has finished a huge piece called “E Pluribus Unum” (the many become one). He collaborated with Paul Hawken, who was a highlight of Mountainfilm 2007. Paul’s “Blessed Unrest” project highlights the collective work of the more than “one million organizations around the world that are devoted to peace, environmental stewardship, social justice, and the preservation of diverse and indigenous culture.” Chris has taken all of these organizations, Mountainfilm being one of them, and created a remarkable piece of art.

Here is a close up:

Here it is in full view:

Jim Stiles and the Zephyr
The film, Brave New West (Mountainfilm 2008) is about Jim Stiles, the cantankerous, curmudgeonly, but forward-thinking editor of the Canyon County Zephyr. Unfortunately, Jim just published the last paper issue of his long-running Moab chronicle. He does have an online version of the publication, which is worth checking out.


Mountainfilm on Tour Shorts

Mountainfilm on Tour announces the launch of our new Shorts program, a perfect blend of the best Mountainfilm Shorts from our 2008 festival as well as some Mountainfilm Classics. This group of films provides an affordable, highly entertaining program and includes a selection of adventure, cultural and environmental short films complete with information on how to put together the perfect Mountainfilm Screening. To learn more about the tour please email Tour Director Justin Clifton, call (970) 728-4123 x13, or click here to get started.

Submission Deadline for films is February 28
So far, we have received submissions of more films than ever before. Send yours in and then we start making the hard decisions.

Peak Water? Water Bankruptcy?
Peter Gleick, who spoke at the 2008 Symposium, has released his World Water Report, which raises concerns that we may have reached peak water. Strikingly, the words of a scientist like Peter are echoed by industrial powers. "I am convinced that, under present conditions and considering the way water is being currently managed, we will run out of water long before we run out of fuel," said Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, chairman of Swiss food conglomerate Nestle. A report out of Davos said many areas on the planet are about to experience “water bankruptcy.”

New Mountainfilm Website

Our multimedia director, Justin Clifton, has put together a dynamic new website. Check it out regularly for festival updates and news, as well as fresh content from the Mountainfilm world.

And check out the new

Mountainfilm Trailer

Sylvia Earle Wins the TED Prize
Mountainfilm stalwart Sylvia Earle, who spoke at the 2008 festival about the rapid decline of the oceans, just won the very prestigious TED Prize. TED is an annual gathering of big minds and bold spirits, and has some wonderful intersections with Mountainfilm. Many of our guests have appeared on the TED stage, including Chris Jordan, The Planetwalker, John Francis and Wade Davis.

The TED Prize is designed to grant a "wish" to selected individuals by tapping into the very impressive TED community to assist with everything from financial support to office space and marketing expertise. Sylvia's wish speaks directly to our own very impressive Mountainfilm community:

"I wish you would use all means at your disposal - films! expeditions! the web! more! - to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas, hope spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet."

Keeping in Touch with Mountainfilm
You can connect to the Mountainfilm world by going to Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.


Cover photo by Tim Vierling