There is nothing like summer and this well-made short offers a real sense of the season with Frisbees, guitars and, yes, skinny-dipping. When he heard Kodak was discontinuing Kodachrome film, director Ian McCluskey picked up a super-8 camera and “set out to make a short film about memory, with the look and feel of nostalgia–sun kissed and golden.” Lured by a cooler of tall boys and the promise of playing in the river, McCluskey and a group of friends piled into a wood-panel Wagoneer. The result is a sweet, yet sexy, narrative film that features an all-volunteer cast running around the river in various states of (un)dress. As one of the fictional characters says, “You know we still talk about it. We still talk about that day.”
Most people come to New York City to see the sights, and understandably they look up. Steve Duncan, a historian and self-described urban explorer, looks down–way down–into the maze of tunnels that run beneath the city. Directed by Andrew Wonder, Undercity, is a short documentary that follows Duncan as he shows us some of the city’s secrets and introduces us to some of the peculiar characters that that lurk below the streets. Not content to explore underground, Duncan sets his sights on some hard-to-reach landmarks above–way above–ground. Before long he is carefully climbing the Wiliamsburg Bridge. It’s a thrilling tour with a high degree of exposure and serious illegality, but Duncan, a confident climber, seems to know what he is doing as he shows us the city from angles rarely before seen.
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.