Professional photographers inhabit a rarefied space where the chances of success are negligible, at best. Narrow the niche to adventure/nature photography and — f-stopping the focus down even further — to life as a biking photographer, and you’re in Dan Milner’s world. It stretches from cloud-hung valleys in the Alps to baking hot Ethiopian villages. And to anywhere and everywhere in between that a passion for the perfect shot and two wheels can get him.
The physical challenges and risks associated with certain jobs have, historically, skewed them almost exclusively toward men. Example A: firefighting. As this short film ably shows, however, there is nothing about the job that women can’t handle. And no reason to keep it off little girls’ “when-I-grow-up” wish lists.
Mountainfilm Commitment Grant
Honeybees lead the charge in Tim Paule and Nicole Lindsey’s fight against urban blight in Detroit. Their fast-growing Detroit Hives has resurrected seven of the city’s approximately 90,000 abandoned lots by setting up flourishing beehives. With Detroit’s more than 2,000 registered hives, the couple are part of a growing community movement. They built their first apiary on a lot purchased for $340 in partnership with Detroit Land Banks. As Nicole says, “you don’t have to have a million dollars in your bank account to start an idea.”
At age 9, Dawa Yangzum Sherpa told her teacher she wanted to climb Mount Everest. It may have seemed improbable then, but she’s long smashed notions of what’s probable. The first woman from Nepal’s Rolwaling Valley (home to 70 notable male climbers) certified by the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations, Dawa is one of only about 100 women among IFMGA’s nearly 7,000 guides. “Who I am now is just because I climb,” Dawa says modestly, as images of peaks she has summited flash on screen — K2, Yala Peak, Lobuche, Chekigo, Kanchenjunga, Cho-Oyu, Ama Dablam — and, of course, Everest.
During his time as a Green Beret medic in the Vietnam War, eco-warrior and author Doug Peacock looked at a map of the Montana and Wyoming wilderness for comfort. He vowed that if he got out alive, he would go see those wild places for himself. Peacock not only visited, but spent years in solitude there, filming his only companions — grizzly bears. The man who inspired The Monkey Wrench Gang’s iconic character George Washington Hayduke has made it his life’s work to save the habitat of these majestic animals, who remind us that humans’ place is not at the top of the food chain.
“I like to run out the door and see where my legs take me,” Hazel Findlay says. This film follows the professional climber as she lets those legs venture into the Welsh mountains of Snowdownia, where she scales cliffs and retreats into the landscape of her mind.
French freerider Kilian Bron takes his mountain bike on a via ferrata in the Dolomites, where he faces impossibly tight turns, hair-raising exposure and massive consequences for the smallest error in line choice. No you didn’t, Kilian Bron. Yes, he did.
“Am I a crazy person?” downhill mountain biker Casey Brown asks in this short film. Decide for yourself as you watch her negotiate the massive drops, huge gaps and puckering lines of southern Utah.
The Brotherhood of Skiers has been bringing camaraderie and dance parties to the slopes since 1973. The annual summits, which unite African-American ski clubs across the country, are fundraisers for youth programs to pass the love of skiing down to the next generation. First born of necessity — safety in numbers in the aftermath of the civil rights movement — four decades later, the Brotherhood of Skiers is still creating a safe space and upending stereotypes.
Sverri Steinholm grew up chasing sheep up and down the rugged, breathtaking slopes of the Faroe Islands. Today he is a pastor of the Lutheran Church, the dominant religion on the island. He is also a compulsive runner, finding solace and spiritual refuge from personal conflicts and the burdens of priesthood on the trails and roads of his homeland. He may inhabit a very different world, but his words will ring true to anyone who has found peace in nature. “Somehow I am driven to it,” he says. “The body needs it, or my soul, my mind.”
The San Carlos Reservation in southeast Arizona is known by the dubious nickname of “Hell’s Forty Acres.” Today, though, pride, creativity and expression are vibrant among its young people. And much of that is thanks to the unifying force of Apache Skateboards, founded by Douglas Miles Sr. — an artist and community leader whose stony countenance belies a font of wisdom. This gritty, mystical profile of Miles shines a light on a community where art, agency, faith, skateboarding and tradition have planted the seeds of resurrection.
So long coloring books and cartoons. Goodbye stuffed animals and nap time. Danny MacAskill is your new favorite babysitter ever.