Activist, author and singer Katie Lee has been a mainstay at Mountainfilm for years, celebrated for her fierce environmentalism. Her hallmark issue was fighting Glen Canyon Dam, a battle she hasn’t given up decades after the dam was built and even after she passed the 90-year mark. The inimitable Lee has been in many films at the festival, but the short doc Kickass Katie Lee, made by Beth and George Gage (the creators of Bidder 70), takes a different, more personal look at this indomitable spirit.
British artist Simon Beck walks with purpose through the snow, counting his paces and humming a tune. But Beck isn’t en route to a typical winter adventure: Using snowshoes and a ski pole, he’s meticulously stomping elaborate geometric patterns in the pristine white of Norway’s mountain meadows. Best admired from above, Beck’s unique works of art are inspired by ice crystals, spiderwebs, ferns and other patterns found in nature.
When he was 16, Thomas Weller drove his car into a snowbank and was rescued by a passerby who refused payment, only asking that Weller pay it forward by helping others. He took that message to heart and has spent a half century patrolling the highways and byways of Southern California to help stranded motorists. He’s been dubbed “The Highwayman” for his selfless Good Samaritan deeds. Over the decades, he’s also handed out thousands of cards with simple instructions to continue the kindness. Like a one-man pebble, he sends out ripples of goodness into the universe.
She survived being thrown through her windshield in a car crash at the age of 80 and then a major stroke at the age of 85. And still, at the age of 90 years young, Yvonne Dowlen continues to ice skate almost every day. Dowlen insists it’s easier to skate than walk at her age. Her elegance on ice reflects the decades she spent traveling the world as a performer in the Ice Capades and sharing her love of dancing on ice as a teacher. Indeed, skating has helped her recover and rehabilitate from the most challenging times in her life. She spends every day pursuing what makes her happy — and that is the true wisdom in her story.
Jeffrey, age 6, loves wigs and purses, princess gowns, making up dances, wearing high heels and the color pink. He always has. His great aunt, who adopted Jeffrey as a baby after he was taken from his birth mother, has had to learn to balance his tastes with the harshness of a world that can be intolerant. Pink Boy, a short film by Eric Rockey, is a story of the unconditional love of family and parents who recognize the importance of creating a safe space for their son to live out his truth.
For Daniel Norris, baseball has been a passion, career, patient teacher and cruel master. But becoming a professional athlete means life in a high-stakes world of intense pressure where players are constantly under the microscope.
That’s why, during the offseason, Norris lives in his VW van, Shaggy. It’s a simple life. He travels alone, taking pictures, surfing, exploring the West and hoping that Shaggy will make it to the next destination.
It’s not life in the fast lane; it’s life in the right lane, chugging along at 55 with other cars speeding past. But that view is exactly what he needs.
Growing up in East Baltimore surrounded by poverty and violence is hard enough, and Coffin Nachtmahr had the added challenge of being different. He stutters. He never quite fit in, and he was picked on. Then he discovered a lifeline in the unlikeliest of pursuits: yo-yoing. In the subculture of “throwers,” he found purpose, acceptance and community. Today, Coffin is the city’s best, transforming the simple activity of yo-yoing into a transfixing dance of creativity, innovation and connection.
Long before Telluride made its famous transition from mining hub to ski town, William “Senior” Mahoney skied here. As a boy growing up in the box canyon, he flew down snow-covered streets on two planks and took laps on the Town Park hill. As he grew older, he ventured far into the mountains to make turns in the high basins of the San Juans.
And as a miner himself, he recognized that the town was dying and needed a new economic foundation. That’s why he was one of the early proponents of building a ski resort in Telluride, working with John Zoline to plot the runs and later becoming the area’s first mountain manager.
This short portrait by Felt Soul Media offers a look into a bygone era in Telluride — when streets were unpaved and homes were cheap — and pays homage to a seminal skier and straight-talking man whose influence on the town is beyond compare.