From the maker of the award-winning short film The Job (Mountainfilm 2007) comes this satirical brief comedy about a corporation that enforces a go-green policy in its offices by hiring an Eco Ninja who takes his duties all too seriously. As usual, Jonathan Browning and Screaming Frog Productions think outside the box — and then recycle the box.
“You shouldn’t have to convince people to go to paradise,” says Yosemite National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson. As an African American, he is unsettled by the fact that only 1 percent of those who visit Yosemite share his race. The Way Home: Returning to the National Parks follows the brief journey of a group of African American seniors from Los Angeles, California, as they experience these sacred lands. Made by Amy Marquis, with the support of the National Park Conservation Association, the film shows not only what people of color are missing, it also imparts their historic relationship with the park. Affable ranger Johnson — who came to Mountainfilm in 2009 with the debut of Ken Burns’s national parks series — is looking to reverse the trend by reminding African Americans that they have a long-standing connection to Yosemite: After the Civil War, the U.S. Army’s Buffalo Soldiers were dispatched to the Western frontier and became the park’s first stewards.
The Grand Canyon, a barren labyrinth of light and shadows, was one of the last places in the American West to be surveyed. John Wesley Powell, before he made the first descent via the Colorado River in 1869, called it “The Great Unknown." Much of it still is today, and river runners, backpackers, lithic hunters and butte baggers seek prestigious “firsts” in the Grand Canyon’s innumerable technical slots. These canyons within canyons with their remarkable features that no human has seen before are what beckons Rich Rudow, Todd Martin, Dave Nally and a passel of other canyoneers to explore deep drainages. It’s no easy task, demanding knowledge of route finding, backpacking, climbing, technical rope work and pack rafting — so much so that Rudow was nominated for Outside magazine’s 2012 Adventurer of the Year.
There are few things more poignant than to see strong brave men and women — warriors, all — reduced by the ravages of combat to brokenness: brokenness not just of the body, but also of the soul. Yet there is a tremendous redemptive power in witnessing those same tragically weakened and humbled men overcoming such harsh adversity to regain their honor, confidence and self-esteem. When such a story plays out against the timeless backdrop of Montana riverscapes and the meditative focus of flyfishing, it becomes all the more moving.