“The worst thing a man can do is live for nothing.” So says James Armstrong, a barber in Birmingham who was one of thousands of unknown and unsung heroes of the civil rights struggle of the '60s. Living by his own creed, Armstrong willingly risked his own life in the often-brutal fight for basic rights—to vote, hold a job, use a public facility or go to school without the oppression of racial segregation or fear of violence. In the decades since, he has kept the faith that enduring what he and his fellow foot soldiers called the “terrible days” would be worth it. Indeed, this short, carefully crafted and compelling film tells his and his compatriots worthwhile story. Armstrong passed away just after this film was shot—but not before witnessing the swearing in of our first African-American president.
In early 2003, I was sitting on Chair 9 with then Mountainfilm Festival Director Rick Silverman. He asked what I was working on and I responded that I’d produced an odd, but interesting, short that featured a tour guide from New York City named Speed Levitch. Shiva—directed by indie filmmaker Richard Linklater—follows Levitch around downtown New York on a walking monologue as he offers a very different vision of Ground Zero, one that does not involve another glass and steel tower. Silverman asked to see Shiva, but I responded that it takes place entirely in the city and didn’t seem right for this festival. He asked to see it anyway, so I sent it. He liked it and said it was just right for Telluride. I proudly became an official Mountainfilm filmmaker for the first time and am thrilled to screen it again ten years after 9-11.
You have probably always wanted to be a Yes Man. Here’s your chance. Andy Bichlbaum who was at Mountainfilm 2009 with his film, The Yes Men Fix the World, returns and brings us a Yes Lab, which we will let him explain:
“I'll start by letting the audience know that they're going to be asked to think of some action to do by the end. Then I will frame the overall idea of laughtivism: creating an action with humor to hook journalists and hook everyone else as well.
“Then I'll show a wide variety of different things that we've done as part of the Yes Lab: Coalcares.org; Hydrofracking “safe to drink” campaign; Copenhagen15 action and a couple of things other people have done.
“I'll also bring a bunch of relics of actions (stickers, etc.) to give away to any active participants as well as a special certificate, or maybe it's actually a draft card. Yes, I'll give them a draft card.”In Person: