Welcome to the first edition of Pitch, the Mountainfilm Magazine, which will come to your inbox 8 to 10 times a year.

Why “Pitch”? Well, the word works— in different ways— with many program elements of Mountainfilm, from rock faces to ski slopes, tents to trees.

My favorite use of the word pitch, is “to pitch in.” One quick way for us to pitch in comes from Bill McKibben (author of End of Nature and Deep Economy, who will attend the festival for the first time in May). He asked if I would let our Mountainfilm friends know about www.350.org, which is working toward reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million.

Bill is quickly trying to accumulate 35,000 signatures on an invitation to President-elect Obama to attend the UN Climate meetings in December, which will indicate how seriously the new administration is taking this problem. Here’s my pitch: Please take maybe 12 seconds to fill out the invitation at www.350.org.

Thanks, and I and hope you enjoy this first issue of Pitch, the Mountainfilm Magazine.

David Holbrooke
Festival Director

Momentum on modern day slavery
We weren’t sure how our spotlight on Modern Day Slavery at this year’s festival would be received. It is a difficult subject because slavery in this day and age is so unexpected, yet so prevalent, so inhumane yet also so essentially human. It is such a hard issue to handle that a lot of people just shut down.

Not at Mountainfilm. Screenings and panel discussions were sold out, and Free the Slaves won the $5,000 Mountainfilm Prize (to be renamed the Moving Mountains Prize).

Author Ben Skinner (A Crime So Monstrous) said he believes that Mountainfilm “managed to kick the abolitionist ball farther down the field than it’s been in a while. Thanks for stacking the deck in favor of the slaves - something that rarely happens!”

Mountainfilm’s Emily Long caught up with Ben HERE.

The lighter side, new films by Jeff Scher

We try to balance our programming at Mountainfilm with a mix of open-eyed realism and wonder-inducing escapism. Quite honestly, there are a lot more films that are high-quality harbingers of a dark world than wondrous jaunts down the easy roads of life.

This is why I was so happy to come across Jeff Scher’s wonderful short films last winter, and pleased to find out that we are neighbors and fathers of third-grade classmates in Brooklyn.

We played a collection of his films at Mountainfilm 2008 (Whiteout, Sid, The Jacobsens, and L’eau Life - the latter also played at this year’s Telluride Film Festival) and also exhibited his paintings.

Luckily, Jeff is prolific and has released two new films since Mountainfilm: Dog Days and While You Were Sleeping. —DH

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Dog Days While You Were Sleeping

Provocative new Chris Jordan piece
Chris Jordan's next work will be about modern day slavery, which he learned about at Mountainfilm this past year. His latest work has garnered some unwanted new attention in the form of hate mail. A warning: its images are sadly familiar but graphic and disturbing.

Constitution, 2008 - 8 x 25 feet in five panels
Depicts 83,000 Abu Ghraib prisoner photographs, equal to the number of people who have been arrested and held at US-run detention facilities with no trial or other due process of law during America’s war on terror. Full view.

Partial zoom.

Zoomed in closer.

Detail at actual print size.

Education Initiative - Making Movies That Matter
Mountainfilm has hired Ellen Shelton, a certified secondary school teacher and former Education Liaison for the Telluride Film Festival, as its Education Director. She will work with students and teachers all around the country to re-edit films that have screened at MF into extremely short and compelling advocacy pieces. The best will screen at Mountainfilm in 2009.

Swimming upstream with
Red Gold

I felt the world premiere of Red Gold, by Ben Knight and Travis Rummel, was one of the highlights of Mountainfilm 2008. The film is beautifully made, thoughtfully done, and homegrown in Telluride.

In case you didn't see the film, Red Gold tells the story of Bristol Bay, Alaska, where proponents of a potentially enormous open-pit gold and copper mine are battling fiercely with an indigenous and sustainable culture built around salmon fishing.

To its credit, the film shows both sides of this complicated issue. It certainly left me rooting for the fish, but right now, it looks like mining is winning this fight because they won an important ballot initiative recently.

Call For Entries
Mountainfilm is now accepting film entries for the 2009 Festival. For more information or to submit your film please CLICK HERE.

What in the World is "Viral Sovereignty"?
“Here’s a concept you’ve probably never heard of: ‘viral sovereignty’” begins a recent Washington Post column by Mountainfilm guests Richard Holbrooke and Laurie Garrett. Holbrooke, former Ambassador to the UN, was on the Hard Choices and Human Rights foreign policy panel and is familiar to Mountainfilm audiences (and family). Garrett attended the festival for the first time this year and shared a presentation about turning her 80-year-old, 30-story Brooklyn building into a more sustainable community at the Village Green event. She also spoke at a breakfast about her real area of expertise, infectious diseases such as avian flu. Her writing on public health has earned her a Pulitzer, a Peabody and a Polk. She is the only person to ever receive these three prestigious journalism awards.

Mountainfilm News
In three short days we received more than 300 commitments from festival goers - some small, some large – but each with a unique, thoughtful and personal approach to change their habits for the better.

Mountainfilm made its own commitment to reduce our impact by eliminating bottled water, recycling 90% of all waste and neutralizing our carbon 100%.

The Mountainfilm Commitment program has continued through Mountainfilm on Tour and we are working toward thousands of commitments around the world.

Please make a Mountainfilm Commitment or update us on how your commitment is going.

Save The Date
Mark your calendars now for MF's annual fundraiser sneak-peek screening at The Sheridan Opera House the day after Christmas. Details to follow...


Cover photo by Tim Vierling